Las Vegas, June 6, 2019. After a week in Las Vegas working North America’s most significant jewelry shows, I’m rejuvenated from seeing myriad friends and insanely gorgeous new styles, but I’m also thrilled to return to the humidity of summer in the Northeast where my skin will no longer crack from the bone-dry desert heat. Along with a renewed affinity for heavy moisture in the air, I bring back a thorough summary on new looks and trends spied at the booths of some of the brightest design talents in jewelry. Many are what I expected to see—bold gold and cool chain links, among others—while there are a few emerging aesthetics on the horizon. Read on to check out my designer jewelry report on JCK LUXURY, JCK Las Vegas, Couture, and Premier.
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Oversize earrings. These were abundant across the shows. From Paraiba slices in gold at Trésor in the Design Center at JCK Las Vegas to massive diamond beauties at VTse at JCK Luxury, there was no shortage of statement earrings to shop.
Oversize earrings from VTse are in gold with black and colorless diamonds
Rose gold. Incredibly, rose gold is making a splash outside of the commitment ring category! Certain lines—Arik Kastan and Carla Amorim, among others—are known for their love of it, but now more designers are committing to a bigger investment in pink. Rahaminov, Julez Bryant, and Lika Behar (with her Peach Glow gold) are among them.
Ring in rose gold with praisiolite and green quartz from Carla Amorim
Hearts. This was, hands down, the most widely featured motif of the shows! I think hearts developed a bad rap from serving as fixtures in weekly newspaper circulars à la $99 diamond hearts, but the hearts on display in this year’s shows were off-the-charts exciting. Think lollipop-size rainbow-imbued numbers with fancy-shape gemstone halos and countless carved gem specimens ready to steal the viewer’s affections. TBT, my own heart fetish was born last summer when I purchased a natural heart-shape golden pearl from the Philippines and had little h. jewelry carve a few recycled rubies into it. And at this show, I purchased a pair of puffed heart drop earrings with pearls from Rachel Quinn. Once my friend and jewelry designer guru Liz Kanter learned of the move, she purchased a similar pair—#twinning.
Chain links. I talked about these before the shows, and new chain link styles were readily available at many booths. From Buddha Mama’s new high-karat gold bracelets to elegant crown-work-inspired oxidized sterling and gold-kissed necklaces from Ray Griffiths to chunky sterling-and-diamond-accented pieces from TAP by Todd Pownell, many a cool link could be found on the show floors.
Gorgeous new link bracelets in gold with enamel and diamonds from Buddha Mama
Bypass hoop earrings. So many artists had these styles! Think Nak Armstrong, Kavant & Sharat, Trésor, and more. The look is a good one for many women, and it’s also easy to execute in high-end and more attainable materials. Hoops are being interpreted in many variations nowadays, and the bypass style—like a bypass ring, the hoop doesn’t completely meet its opposing end but passes it—is a modern way to wear a timeless look.
Bypass hoops in gold with precious gems from Sorellina
Cool pearls. Pearls are underappreciated and have untapped potential for merchants and fashion enthusiasts! Full disclosure: I am the part-time executive director for the Cultured Pearl Association of America (CPAA), but I am seeing a lot of designers work with pearls who never before did. The reason? Same as collectors who love them—variety and beauty. (Check out the 2019 Pearls supplement I helped to create for CPAA at this link.)
New earrings from Assael feature Tahitian pearls and kunzite
Good stories. I can’t remember another year when the artists and their new works had so many great stories to tell! Sure, Lydia Courteille is known for fabricating a good tale—and a remarkable jewel—but many other artists, particularly emerging ones, got the good story memo and went to town with it. State Property had literary stories to tell, Anna Maccieri Rossi had super-clever time-inspired ones, Marcia Budet had museum-worthy narratives, Soulbound had video game yarns, and Rachel Quinn had heartbreak accounts. For sure, this jewelry storyteller has plenty of content for months to come.
Necklace from Anna Maccieri Rossi depicts a wolf howling at a moonstone moon.
Fringe. Chic fringe-like chain accents were noticeable in the collections of many, including Nak Armstrong, Fern Freeman (fringe is practically her signature), and Andrea Blais. Fringe speaks to the 80s-inspired fashion that’s happening now and has obvious affinities to flirty effects. Assael, too, got in on the sassiness with fringe- or tassel-like earrings with gemstones and pearls.
I’m completely obsessed with these new Fringe earrings from Andrea Blais!
Neutral colors. Industry is loving its gray spinels, blue Montana sapphires, matte finishes of metals, icy jade and diamonds, and other materials that offer an understated color palette. Neutrals go with everything and offer a tone-on-tone effect (more on that later) for lovers of black, tan, gray, and white in fashion. Syna had a number of new jewels in neutral colors as did Federica Rettore.
New horn mismatched earrings with gold and diamonds from Federica Rettore
Whimsical motifs. Happy skulls, origami, butterflies, hearts, animals, and bright colors of enamel are among the many playful aesthetics unveiled at the shows. Jewelry today is largely lighthearted, expressive, colorful (retailer resistance to colored stone collections has lifted!) and growing more approachable by the day. This is what’s needed to make collectors feel more at home in the category. BTW, Aisha Baker’s enamel lips—complete with rainbow teeth—were giving me life at Couture!
Super fun lips from Aisha Baker
Happy skull in enamel, gold, and diamonds from Buddha Mama
On the horizon: Bicolor (or multicolor) gems. Designers are loving a pronounced bicolor gem or one that features more than a single hue in one stone! The tourmaline and ametrine from Amáli are top of mind, but with an astute enough eye you’ll notice bicolor pearls, agates, and quartzes at Christina Alexiou and Guita M, among others.
Watermelon tourmaline heart necklace with a gemstone halo from Christina Alexiou
Photo courtesy Christina Alexiou
On the horizon: Tone-on-tone aesthetics. Think white pearls with white opal at Nadine Aysoy and Elie Top, and icy moonstone with white pearls at Mastoloni. These are companion pieces to all the neutral colors of commitment rings that have been trending.
Earrings with white opal, white pearls, and colorless diamonds from Nadine Aysoy
On the horizon: Volume. Pieces with mass were impressively executed. Mattia Cielo specializes in big and bold, but a slinky-like bracelet was both OTT and an engineering feat. Meanwhile, Rachel Quinn’s puffed silver and vermeil hearts were like playful pin cushions—some set with freshwater pearls—while Guita M’s oversize beads offered maximum stylish capacity in muted colors.
New bracelets with volume from Mattia Cielo in gold and diamonds
Necklace with volume in gold with diamonds and pearls from Mike Joseph
Photo courtesy Couture
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