Charmed I’m Sure
As retro-inspired gems continue to hold sway this season, the classic charm bracelet is getting a luxe makeover.
Harry Winston launched its first-ever charm bracelet just in time for holiday 2012, offering chain-link versions in platinum and 18K gold with an array of delicate charms to match. And they’re as sweet as they are chic: Designers Monica Rich Kosann and Heather B. Moore both specialize in creating timeless trinkets that can be fully personalized with the wearer’s own images and engravings. Asprey, Tiffany & Co. and de Grisogono are just a few of the other houses charming jewelry fans this year.
Should florals prove too sweet for your taste, tap into your animal instincts with the wild, whimsical creations of Aaron Basha, Stephen Webster, Chopard, Boucheron and Jacob & Co.—just a few of the many houses crafting pieces featuring lions, tigers and bears (oh my), among other critters.
From Cartier’s iconic panther motif (prevalent on everything from collar necklaces to cufflinks), to Roberto Coin’s sexy scorpion pieces, you’re sure to find a species that speaks to you.
Elements of the Exotic
With Asia having firmly established itself as a major player on the world stage of luxury fashion, it was only a matter of time before designers took note.
Jewelers are paying homage to the Orient with traditional materials— think jade (seen in Erica Courtney’s new Imperial collection and Katy Briscoe’s Asia collection), as well as turquoise and onyx—and motifs, from delicate tassels on earrings and necklaces to intricately carved elephants, lions, lotus flowers and more (Hong Kong native Wendy Yue’s one-of-a-kind designs come to mind). Many houses (including Whiting & Davis and Carrera y Carrera) are celebrating the Chinese New Year with pieces adorned with dragons (for 2012) and slithering snakes (just in time for 2013).
Jaipur-based jewelers like Amrapali and The Gem Palace draw their inspiration from the extravagant baubles of Indian royalty, employing many of the same stone cutting and manufacturing techniques developed centuries ago—yet their pieces still feel utterly relevant today.
Oversized cocktail rings, bold cuffs, collar necklaces, door-knocker earrings: Designers aren’t shying away from statement-making pieces. With many fine jewelers taking their cues from 1950s and 1960s-era costume jewelry— including Dior Joaillerie’s Victoire de Castellane, who was inspired by jewels from the house archives for the new Dear Dior collection— vintage pieces are in high demand. The use of vibrantly colored gems (like the fire opals favored by designer Irene Neuwirth) mean these pieces aren’t for wallflowers, though you don’t have to reserve them for a special occasion—they look equally at home paired with jeans. Even pieces that once seemed matronly, like an elaborate brooch or clip, feel fresh when worn in an unexpected way (on a necklace or as a hair accessory).
Whether you raid the archives of a purveyor of estate jewelry like Siegelson or Fred Leighton, or opt for a new piece with a decidedly vintage vibe from a storied house like Verdura, Van Cleef & Arpels or Oscar Heyman, you’re sure to see a return on this investment.
Everything Old is New Again
Baubles for the Boys
Men’s jewelry used to conjure images of the kind of over-the-top baubles better suited to the big screen than the boardroom.
But in recent years, the men’s market has taken a turn for the chic—emerging as one of the fastest growing trends in fine jewelry—with labels like David Yurman, John Hardy, Armenta and Shamballa Jewels offering decidedly wearable options. Subdued hues, minimal bling, matte or distressed metal finishes and pared-down designs keep the best of these pieces undoubtedly masculine. From the edgy (Stephen Webster’s rocker-approved wares) to the elegant (see Todd Reed’s understated, earthy offerings), there’s a modern option for every man.
Say it with Silver
While money may be no object for their top customers, an increasing number of high-end jewelers—including Pomellato, who recently debuted their Pomellato 67 line, and Judith Ripka—are rolling out sterling silver collections to complement their big-ticket gold baubles.
The lower price point, designers argue, makes these jewels perfect for travel—wearers can rest easy knowing their more precious pieces are in the safe back home. Which is not to say the newest sterling silver lines are anything less than luxe: The addition of diamonds and precious gems, as well as a commitment to the same intricate craftsmanship you’d expect from a top house, means these pieces pair equally well with your favorite fine jewelry. Other brands that are serving up stylish sterling options include Charles Krypell and Coomi.
Proving that diamonds and pearls don’t have to be prissy, jewelers are adding edge to even precious gems.
At the forefront of the trend is Loree Rodkin, whose rhodium gold, goth-inflected pieces have adorned rockers like Keith Richards and Steven Tyler (not to mention First Lady Michelle Obama, underscoring the trend’s surprising wearability). Designer Emily Armenta draws inspiration from historic Spanish art and architecture to create darkly romantic pieces accented with crosses, swords and scrolls, many done in oxidized gold or silver. JudeFrances offers covetable pendants and cuffs emblazoned with Maltese crosses and lattice motifs for a look that’s equal parts medieval and modern.
Up-and-coming names like Anita Ko, Mizuki and Lauren Craft are embellishing their designs with crosses, studs, spikes and even skulls. Scaled-down silhouettes and the addition of pavé diamonds and precious stones make these pieces feel sophisticated, not scary.
Many of the world’s most influential fashion houses are complementing their ready-towear with new or expanded collections of fine and high jewelry.
Utilizing 18K gold, diamonds and precious gems, while subtly paying tribute to each house’s unique heritage through thoughtful design details, these haute baubles offer fashion fans another way to show off their favorite labels. Dior Joaillerie celebrated the launch of its new My Dior collection during Paris Fashion Week in March 2012. The feminine designs reinterpreted Dior’s iconic “Cannage” motif in 18K gold wrought to look like woven straw.
Fellow Parisian power player Louis Vuitton opened the doors of its first freestanding jewelry-dedicated boutique in Paris in July, an appropriately spectacular 1,600-square-foot space that boasts a new high jewelry atelier to display the designs of Lorenz Bäumer, the label’s artistic director for fine jewelry.
Italian label Bottega Veneta has steadily stepped up the wow factor of its fine jewelry: Last fall’s collection boasted vivid gems like morganite and fire opal. Gucci also played with new hues for its fine jewelry offerings, incorporating pretty pastel gems like morganite and beryl.
New on the scene this year: Versace unveiled its first collection for Atelier Versace Jewelry, a new line of ultra-luxe, by-request-only gems, during the label’s showing at Couture Fashion Week.
Though silver may be having a moment, top jewelers are proving that classic gold never goes out of style.
The precious metal lends itself well to intricate designs and careful craftsmanship, two of the hallmarks of Spanish jeweler Carrera y Carrera’s designs (just how they achieve their gold’s uniquely satiny finish is a closely guarded secret). Another master of goldsmithing, Marco Bicego crafts hand-etched matte gold beads that have become the house’s signature.
While rose gold has experienced a resurgence in recent years (thanks to the warm, flattering glow it casts on virtually any skin tone), by experimenting with textures and finishes, designers are also making yellow gold feel fresh again. And mixing different shades of gold—once considered a faux-pas—is now fair game, even within the same piece (case in point: Georg Jensen’s stunning, and substantial, Fusion Showpiece cuff in 18K rose, white and yellow gold). Playing with shades is another way for designers to make their pieces pop: Jeweler Yossi Harari recently debuted a new “brown gold” hue, while Le Vian and de Grisogono have both trademarked their own unique colors of gold.
With busy lives and nonstop social calendars, women are demanding jewelry that does double duty: Versatile pieces that can be dressed up or down, layered or worn alone.
New York-based jeweler Gumuchian—designed and manufactured by two generations of women, naturally—specializes in these kinds of ultra-wearable jewels. Their diamond Carousel necklace can be worn a total of seven different ways, while their Gallop rings are perfectly sized and shaped for stacking.
Designer Yael Sonia creates whimsical pendants that double as bangles, while her playful rings can also be strung on a gold chain or leather cord to make a necklace. With collection names like Gelato and Rock Candy, Ippolita’s stackable bangles and rings are equally sweet whether piled on or worn solo.
Much like the little black dress, classic diamonds will never go out of style—but that hasn’t stopped some enterprising jewelers from going beyond precious gems to use innovative materials (think fossilized woolly mammoth, found in designer Monique Péan’s CFDA Fashion Award-winning collection) in creative new ways.
The resulting pieces are made for the woman seeking something different: Handcrafted, environmentally conscious and usually one of a kind. Californiabased designer Melissa Joy Manning falls squarely in this camp, frequently traveling around the world to source less commonly used stones like stalactite, while more and more jewelers (including celeb favorites J/Hadley and Kimberly McDonald) are employing glittering geodes and drusy quartz to impart an earthy-meets-edgy feel to their designs.
Earthy blue and green stones made waves at this year’s jewelry shows. Appearing alongside mainstays like sapphire and emerald, gems once less commonly used in fine jewelry like lapis lazuli, tsavorite, opal, tanzanite and jade provided a refreshing burst of color. Roberto Coin showed off soothing blue and green shades in the label’s Shanghai line, while Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry added emeralds to the collection—marking the brand’s first time incorporating colored stones.
As one of the world’s top producers of colored gems, Gemfields works with leading houses like Fabergé and Shaun Leane, providing ethically sourced and sustainable stones. Their Fall 2012 designer collaborations featured stunning Zambian emeralds in an array of innovative settings.