Close

Rare & Beautiful: Enchanting Metals

By Manon Crespi

I’ve been intrigued lately by the unique way jewelry designers are using metal colorations in their fine jewelry collections. Some are forsaking traditional 18K gold altogether for stronger and lighter titanium, while others opt for ceramic and rhodium-plating to enhance 18K gold. The wonderfully creative and exquisite jewelry below showcases varying applications of all three materials.

Neha Dani titanium and rainbow rhodium Tangle earrings

Neha Dani titanium and rainbow rhodium Tangle earrings with 1.21 carats diamonds, $14,350, saksfifthavenue.com

Neha Dani’s titanium Tangle earrings with white diamonds, shown above, are a beautiful example of titanium’s ability to achieve a gorgeous meld of colors, ultimately aiding the designer in realizing the vision of her collection. Dani explains, “Titanium is a mystic metal to work with as it allows you to play with your imagination. Being a light metal, one can go larger with the size of the pieces and not be worried about the weight of the metal and comfort upon wearing. It’s a unique metal as it can be shaded and finished in different hues. The end effect is almost like painting on a canvas as the colors blend into one another. The saturation of color can also be controlled with different temperatures during the coloring process.” The Tangle earrings are plated in rainbow-colored rhodium. The Picchiotti 18K white gold and titanium Rose ring with diamonds and rubies, shown below, was made with a combination of white gold and anodized purple titanium. Picchiotti’s marketing director, Maria Picchiotti, described to me the process of anodization, which is how the heated titanium turns colors. She says, “The metal is coated with extremely thin layers of titanium oxide and, by using electrolytic techniques, these layers are thickened to produce a vast range of colors. Once the desired color is achieved, it will not change.” The frame of the Picchiotti Rose ring is made with white gold and anodized purple titanium, with the diamonds set in white gold and the rubies set in titanium. The Chantecler 18K yellow gold and titanium necklace with diamonds and sapphires, also shown below, is another beautiful combination of 18K gold and titanium.

Picchiotti 18K white gold and titanium Rose ringPicchiotti 18K white gold and titanium Rose ring with 4.20 carats round diamonds and 5.62 carats oval rubies, $37,000, picchiotti.com

Chantecler 18K yellow gold and titanium necklace

Chantecler 18K yellow gold and titanium necklace with .10 carats diamond and 1.40 carats sapphires, $18,090; 18K yellow gold and titanium pendant with 2.20 carats sapphires and .27 carats diamond, $10,600, chantecler.com

Fernando Jorge 18K white gold and purple rhodium Arara earrings

Fernando Jorge 18K white gold and purple rhodium Arara earrings with 18.0 carats Australian Boulder opal, 12.6 carats tanzanite and 1.7 carats white diamonds, $61,000, fernandojorge.com

Fernando Jorge wanted to enhance the vibrancy of the Boulder opals and tanzanite stones he featured in his Arara earrings, shown above, so he chose to use a blue nanoceramic coating over 18K gold. This nanoceramic electrocoating process is similar to plating. It involves a rectifier that provides the voltage, a current conductor that’s plugged into the rectifier on one end and is clamped to a handling wire on the other end. The jewelry piece, which hangs from the handling wire, is dipped into the nanoceramic coating. Once the piece is submerged, the rectifier is turned on for a set time, then turned off. The piece is then removed from the nanoceramic coating and dipped into a distilled water bath. The intensity of the color depends upon the rectifier setting and the number of times the process is done. Once the piece is dried, it is cured in an oven to set the coating.  

Graziela 18K white gold and dark rhodium Something Blue earrings

Graziela 18K white gold and dark rhodium Something Blue earrings with 1.88 carats Paraiba tourmaline, 2.18 carats black diamonds and 1.0 carats diamonds, $16,450, grazielagems.com

Graziella Kaufman also wanted to emphasize the dynamic color of the paraiba tourmaline stones in her stunning Something Blue earrings, shown above, so she chose dark rhodium, which is classified as a member of the platinum group of metals. Kaufman explained to me, “Rhodium is extremely tough, resists corrosion and scratches and has a highly reflective nature.” Similar to the nanoceramic coating process for jewelry, rhodium is plated onto the 18K gold. HRH Jewels, a wonderful collection I discovered while visiting Monaco a couple of months ago, created a luxurious smoky gold tone with rhodium that I’d never seen before, shown below in its 18K smoky gold Rose of Honor ring with blue sapphires.

HRH Jewels 18K smoky gold Rose of Hope ring

HRH Jewels 18K smoky gold Rose of Hope ring with 1.74 carats blue sapphires, approximately $22,550, hrhjewels.com