Mabry Hall created Annalee Wyatt, 18 Karat Cold Mysteries' bling-bedecked sleuth, out of her love of antique jewelry. She gets a vicarious pleasure when Annalee buys, sells, and sometimes wears the beautiful pieces of jewelry she would love to have for herself. However, she's quite happy to leave the murders to her fictional creation and lives a quiet life in Louisiana, not far from the imaginary town of Berryville and Annalee's Goat Hill Farm. Learn more about Mabry and her series at her Facebook page.
I have a love for antique jewelry that far outstrips my ability to purchase it, but I get a ridiculous amount of entertainment from shopping and wishing.
When confronted with a display case, I’ll admit that my initial reaction is usually, “Pretty sparkly things!” As I scan the items, something special inevitably catches my eye and prompts me to ask for a closer view. Sometimes I feel an inexplicable rush of sentiment that my imagination chalks up to a touch of happiness left by the original recipient. There’s an added thrill if the piece is engraved with the initials of its long-forgotten owner.
I might ask to see an engagement ring, or maybe a beautiful brooch or necklace. Was the diamond starburst worn on the shoulder of a fringed Flapper dress? Did it cast a rainbow of sparkles when the owner did a wild Charleston? If I had a spare $20,000 to purchase it, would it look as good on a T-shirt for my weekly Target run? Probably not. Back in the case it goes.
As long as no one is behind me waving a credit card, the salesperson is usually happy to let me browse to my heart’s content. I always ask questions. “How old is this piece? Is it rare? Is it signed? Do you know who owned it?” I’ve picked up a lot of my knowledge through these conversations. You cannot do a one-to-one comparison of an old piece to a new one. The workmanship is different, and the older stones have not had the tricks done to them that are common now. The gem color will be natural, not heat-treated to intensify it. Be prepared to see gold in unusual karat values, or paired with other metals, such as intricately worked silver. You might even find something made of steel, or the latex substance called gutta percha.
If I see something I really, really love, I ask for a card with the item’s description. That card may stay in my purse for weeks, where it will jog my memory and either produce relief or regret that I didn’t buy the item. Once in a great while, I bite the bullet and buy the bling. I’ll even allow my husband to purchase it for a gift if I can wait that long.
Since my actual purchase to desperately want ratio is so lopsided, I’ve had great fun inventing an antique jewelry dealer who can buy whatever she wants, wear it a few times, then sell it for a profit. If Annalee Wyatt gets involved in a few murders along the way, it only emphasizes how seriously some of us take our accessories.
An Engaging End, An 18 Karat Cold Mystery
18 Karat Sold? Or 18 Karat Cold? Antique jewelry dealer Annalee Wyatt recently moved from Houston to Goat Hill, her family’s ancestral farm in Louisiana. Okay, admittedly she knows jack about farming and makes her living selling expensive baubles, but she’s returned to her roots and wants everyone, including the citizens of nearby Berryville, to be as enthusiastic about it as she is. Her goal of acceptance gets a boost when the scion of an old family pays her big bucks for an engagement ring. When his intimidating mother invites her to attend the ceremony, she really feels like she's made it. Unfortunately, "Happily ever after" turns into "Happy never again" when the young bride shockingly dies at the wedding reception.
Soon Annalee is dealing with a grieving, hostile groom and unpleasant accusations regarding her honesty. Though there seems to be no way to prove her integrity, Annalee can’t afford to give up. With the help of her hunky cattle-rancher neighbor and the town book club, she sets out to solve the mystery that threatens her reputation. It comes as a nasty surprise to find that her life is in jeopardy, too!