Inspirations

Andrea Blais’ Fringe Jewelry Collection Is Serving Up Pat Mcgrath-Lash-Like Luxury

New York City. May 19, 2020. Inspiration for Andrea Blais’ Fringe jewelry collection comes from an interesting source: the thick, feathery-light yet luxurious eyelash looks created by celebrity makeup artist Pat Mcgrath (@patmcgrathreal on Instagram).

“She is incredibly technical,” says the Calgary, Canada–based jewelry designer. “Her blending and use of color is insane, unreal. Her images are so strong; I identify with and love that level of perfection.”

So Blais visually breathed in those long and lovely lash extensions and reinterpreted them into Fringe jewelry, made in sterling and oxidized silver and 14k yellow gold. (Rose is now en route.) More than two-dozen pieces are available for purchase at select retailers—Roseark in West Hollywood and Talisman Collection in El Dorado Hills, Calif., are among them—and in her own e-shop.

“Simple curves and beautiful movement, that was the jewelry concept,” she explains. “I obsessed over the dense texture of really fine chain that interlocked almost like a fabric. The finished pieces move beautifully and catch the light; they look really luxe.”

Two-tone pieces strike a dramatic picture while a pair of sterling silver Fringe earrings remains her best seller. Overall, the collection is easy to identify with and wear. And while Fringe jewels are certainly layerable, pieces alone create powerful statements. “Longer pendants and bigger necklaces have a nice presence,” adds Blais.

Her online sales have picked up of late because of bored homebound shoppers (and retail price points hovering at $200), but guilty minds should know that their purchase funds a donation to a food bank. Shop online with the coupon code HOME15.

Best-selling Fringe earrings in sterling silver, $211.43; available online at Andrea Blais

Best-selling Fringe earrings in sterling silver, $211.43; available online at Andrea Blais

Fringe ring in 14k yellow gold, $691.61; available online at Andrea Blais

Fringe ring in 14k yellow gold, $691.61; available online at Andrea Blais

Large two-tone Fringe necklace in oxidized silver and 14k yellow gold, $1,250.64; available online at Andrea Blais

Large two-tone Fringe necklace in oxidized silver and 14k yellow gold, $1,250.64; available online at Andrea Blais

Drop earrings in 14k yellow gold with purple garnets and diamonds, $1,300 at K.Jon’s

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Inspirations

Nak Armstrong’s Nakard Collection Is the Lit Silver Jewelry the Market Has Been Missing

New York City. May 5, 2020. Nak Armstrong of the eponymous firm is both returning to his roots and offering up an atypical diffusion line with the debut of his Nakard sterling silver jewelry with black and blue rhodium plating.

When he unveiled the Nak Armstrong brand in 2011, his jewels were a mix of sterling silver and 18k gold, though it didn’t take long for the line to go all gold. He would still make the occasional silver necklace on request.

When he decided to open his own brand boutique in Austin, Texas, where he is based—the opening is tentatively scheduled for mid-June—Armstrong felt the timing and market landscape were ideal to dive deeper into an all silver collection that didn’t scream your typical silver look. Sterling silver enables jewels to be made in bigger profiles at lower price points while retaining a greater inherent value than costume; colored rhodium plating presents a cooler and more memorable aesthetic than plain silver.

As is the case with all Nak Armstrong designs, the “stones are the stars,” says the artist. Featured gems include labradorite, rainbow moonstone, Ethiopian opal, turquoise, chrysoprase, black spinel, white zircon, and a “green onyx looks like emerald,” Armstrong notes.

“I felt like there was this whole area left behind, that silver used to be more important,” he explains in a phone interview. “Everyone was either into gold or costume jewelry; there was a hole in the market. My clients who wanted to make a statement in gold had to spend up to $10,000, so I found another way to offer a bigger look without dumbing down the product.”

Armstrong expanded his silver line by adding more styles and versions of the existing iconic geometry—think half-moons, cushions, and more—that is his design DNA. The result is a lower-price collection (suggested retails start at $250 versus $2,000 in gold) that is contemporary and recognizable. Pieces also layer well with his gold.

“The underpinning was my mosaic look, with an emphasis on repetitive shapes and variety of sizes to create the overall silhouette,” he says. “Nakard is easy for clients to wear all time, and my clients who religiously buy gold are buying this and mixing it together.”

“Nakard is sort of like me taking Nak Armstrong and blowing it up; Nak Armstrong jewelry is a ton of intricate small cuts arranged in a single piece to look like ruffling, flora, or fauna—organic objects. In Nakard, there are bigger stone cuts and bigger gestures of repetitive shapes in a variety of sizes—from small to large—to create pieces that are unusual yet simple in execution. All gems are bezel set, and the stones are cut small and light so finished pieces aren’t too heavy. We got the bezels really fine so we weren’t using a lot of metal.”

Some of Armstrong’s retailers had pieces in the fall of 2019, with sell-through “faster than I could make it,” he says. During the pandemic, the designer built up his own shoppable website and is seeing healthy sales between $1,000 and $1,500. More than 200 SKUs, or individual pieces, are available.

And that Nakard name? It’s Nak’s own middle name. The designer whom most call Nak is actually named David Nakard Armstrong. “My grandfather was from Lebanon and his last name was Nakkad,” says Armstrong. “When he moved to Australia, he changed the spelling of it because people were pronouncing it as ‘naked’. That, and Nakard sounded French to him.”

Worm band in sterling silver with a blue rhodium finish and half-moon-shape black spinel, $250; available online at Nak Armstrong

Worm band in sterling silver with a blue rhodium finish and half-moon-shape black spinel, $250; available online at Nak Armstrong

Riviere Tile necklace in sterling silver with a black rhodium finish and square black labradorite, $1,375; available online at Nak Armstrong

Triple Line earrings in sterling silver with a black rhodium finish and rose-cut, cushion- and half-moon-shape black spinel and Ethiopian opal, $1,875; available online at Nak Armstrong

Triple Line earrings in sterling silver with a black rhodium finish and rose-cut, cushion- and half-moon-shape black spinel and Ethiopian opal, $1,875; available online at Nak Armstrong

Drop earrings in 14k yellow gold with purple garnets and diamonds, $1,300 at K.Jon’s

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Inspirations

The Kitty Hawk Jewelry Collection by Emily P. Wheeler Will Transport You to the Outer Banks

New York City. April 13, 2020. Onetime model and present-day jewelry designer Emily P. Wheeler revisits one of her favorite childhood destinations in the Kitty Hawk jewelry collection.

The Los Angeles–based designer recalls her family’s love of windsurfing and her own affinity for the town’s kite peddlers in the North Carolina town of Kitty Hawk. In the collection, opals, turquoise, petrified palm wood, ebony, morganite, tagua nut, aquamarine, diamonds, and more cut in geometric shapes and some freeform silhouettes call to mind happy memories from the recesses of Wheeler’s mind. Think neon-hued boat sails, pastel-colored bathing suits, wooden decks, and black rubber boat booms—all delightful takeaways from myriad trips to the beach town located on the barrier islands off the state’s Atlantic coast.

“Opals have always made me think of the 1980s with their neon pastel palettes,” explains Wheeler. “The Mermaid Ring with its electric blue opal mixed with hot pink and magenta spinel is a perfect ’80s color combo to me.”

Kitty Hawk debuted in January of this year and is available at shops like ETC in Aspen, Colo., and Birmingham, Ala., as well as Bergdorf Goodman in New York City, though many of these outlets are now closed due to the Coronavirus. Even so, half of the collection’s 15 one-of-a-kinds have already sold. All styles are made in 18k yellow, white, and rose gold. Retail prices for Kitty Hawk start at $4,200.

“I hope to evoke a sense of nostalgia in my collections, as I’m a very nostalgic person,” adds Wheeler. “This time and place have a distinct palette and feel in my memory, and the inspiration came naturally through memories and photographs.”

Swell necklace in 18k rose gold with petrified palm wood, ombre pink sapphire baguettes, and pavé colorless diamonds, $4,800; available online at Emily P. Wheeler

Swell necklace in 18k rose gold with petrified palm wood, ombre pink sapphire baguettes, and pavé colorless diamonds, $4,800; available online at Emily P. Wheeler

Horizon hoop earrings in 18k yellow gold with Arizona turquoise, peridot, and colorless baguette-cut diamonds, $8,400; available online at Emily P. Wheeler

Mermaid ring in 18k yellow gold with opal, pink spinel, and colorless diamonds, $9,800; available online at Emily P. Wheeler

Drop earrings in 14k yellow gold with purple garnets and diamonds, $1,300 at K.Jon’s

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Inspirations

Elena Kriegner’s Together Necklace Is a Help in Feeding America

New York City. March 31, 2020. Austrian-born designer transplant to Manhattan Elena Kriegner and her sister Herta are sheltering in place from their Midtown home, but that doesn’t mean they are sitting idle. Knowing many artists are already donating to the No Kid Hungry cause, the two decided to create a semi-custom piece with a third of proceeds benefiting a different charity that stomps out hunger—Feeding America.

“We want to do something relevant in response to the COVID-19 virus,” explain the duo. “We are not qualified to help in a hospital, we don’t have large amounts of money to donate, and we cannot drive supplies to people in need. However, we can continue doing what we do best while finding a way to help others.”

The result of this mission is the Together necklace, a sterling silver triangle and intersecting circle featuring a trio of laser-engraved words selected by the purchaser. Since casters are closed, Elena is hand-fabricating each piece from wire and sheet metal from her home studio, where she also has a laser engraver. A Together charm is also available.

“The Together necklace stands for love, appreciation, friendship, compassion, and that we care for others in unusually trying times,” Elena adds. “This is an example of jewelers doing what they do best to support people in need and the economy.”

Though the pair just debuted the piece yesterday, they have already gotten a dozen orders. Necklaces and charms retail for $150.

Reach Elena at elena@elenakriegner.com or 646-752-9300. Also check out the making of the pieces on social media, where you can virtually visit the studio on Instagram at @elenakriegner.

Engravable Together charm in sterling silver, $150; available online at Elena Kriegner

Engravable Together charm in sterling silver, $150; available online at Elena Kriegner

Engravable Together necklace in sterling silver, $150; available online at Elena Kriegner

Engravable Together necklace in sterling silver, $150; available online at Elena Kriegner

Drop earrings in 14k yellow gold with purple garnets and diamonds, $1,300 at K.Jon’s

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