When it comes to red carpet bling, there are plenty of go-to brands — Harry Winston, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, among them.
But as celebrities increasingly strive to stand out in the well-dressed crowd, many of their stylists have turned to smaller, less obvious jewelry brands to find that perfect cocktail ring, bib necklace or bejeweled hair comb.
Gray Gallery, an elegantly appointed shop tucked back from the main street on Melrose Avenue, is one of the newest spots celebrity stylists have been mining for distinctive pieces.
Half jewelry store, half high-end housewares outpost, Gray is co-owned by local jewelry designer Vram Minassian and his cousin, Paris-based interior designer and furniture and art dealer Chahan Minassian.
Both the baubles and objets d&minute;art feel decidedly decadent. This is where to find a kiln-fired skull the size of a coffee table. And the Vram for Gray jewelry line — which showcases rare, often oversized gemstones without a lot of metal to obscure the dazzle — is a natural choice for paparazzi moments.
The sparkle factor is major. Rare stones set into cocktail rings include a tsavorite garnet (which is bright green, not red), a purple sapphire, a champagne-hued zircon (which Eva Mendes recently wore) the size of a robin's egg and a cloudy fuchsia tourmaline, recently seen on Katy Perry's manicured finger.
"My passion is chasing really unusual gemstones," explained Vram, who also designs stunning diamond pieces including intricate dream-catcher earrings and bracelets, one of which Annette Bening wore to last week's Oscars. Prices for the line range from $1,500 to $150,000.
And if you think the designer's baubles are stunning from the top, turn them over — he does his most detailed metal work on the underside of his pieces, a habit he picked up from his jeweler father.
"I always turn jewelry over," he said. "I want to see if the [creator] loves what they do."
The shop also carries a line of vintage jewelry and watches, smartly curated by veteran vintage dealer Ineke Peskin. The antique gold pocket watch Johnny Depp wore to this year's Golden Globes hailed from the collection, as did the vintage pearl cufflinks worn by Jeremy Renner to last week's Oscars.
8751 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood. (310) 854-0091. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
L.A. Rose Boutique: Vintage boutique L.A. Rose has outgrown its quaint digs at the Farmer's Market and decamped to a space twice its old size on Melrose Avenue, bringing its trend-right resale and designer vintage looks with it.
8064 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 938-9909. 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
DTLA Pop-Up: Curated by Hope Kristen, buyer for Fred Segal Fun; Marty Westmoore, a model turned fashion consultant; and Gregg Jacobson, brand integration manager for the OWN network, the DTLA pop-up shop (named for downtown L.A.) will feature men's and women's apparel, shoes and accessories from local designers who will be showcasing their wares free, courtesy of the Orchid Club, a group of young entrepreneurs from downtown Los Angeles dedicated to forming a community of active and involved neighbors.
Thursday through April 3. 408 S. Spring St., Los Angeles. Tuesday through Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Ed Hardy General Store: Sibling "bro" brands Ed Hardy, Christian Audigier and the Same Guy can now all be found under the same roof at the Ed Hardy General Store — an all-in-one flagship.
8335 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 944-0662. 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.
Amsale bridal trunk show Thursday through Saturday: See bridal brand Amsale's feminine, tulle-accented gowns up close and personal at this weekend trunk show at Saks Fifth Avenue's bridal salon.
9600 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. Call (310) 275-4211 to make an appointment.
Stuart House benefit March 13: Fashion designer John Varvatos closes down the street and opens the doors of his Melrose Avenue boutique for the 8th annual event to benefit Stuart House, an organization that helps the child victims of sexual abuse. The fundraiser runs noon to 5 p.m. and includes luxury shopping, a silent auction and a concert by Grammy winner k.d. lang at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $200 per adult (kids under 16 get in free) and can be purchased at johnvarvatos.com/stuart_house.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times