New York City, May 15, 2019. Skulls were an “it” motif in jewelry upwards of 15 years ago when the design community applied a jaunty and gem-encrusted take to this typically haunting symbol of death. The late Alan Friedman unveiled a masterful skull pendant necklace emblazoned “F You” on the back, while Julez Bryant—a newbie designer at the time—offered sweeter, happier-looking skulls in rose gold. Today, Bryant and other tony artists are exploring skulls again in bold and lighthearted ways (think smiling sugar skulls, alienesque versions, and less literal skull silhouettes carved out of gems). Why skulls now? They’re popular in tattoos, are culturally significant, and periodically appear on the runways—the late Alexander McQueen was renowned for his love of them. Skull jewelry is the next logical step. After all, everything old eventually becomes new again.
Editor’s Note: We are counting down the days to the most important jewelry trade shows in North America (happening in late May and early June in Las Vegas) with 12 days of jewelry trends! These trends are based on what’s been appearing in the market lately, what was on display at other recent fairs, and what designers say they’re making for the next shows.
Skull necklace in 18k gold and oxidized sterling silver with diamond accents on an adjustable 16-inch chain, $470; Susan Elnora
Carpe Diem Crowned Skull drop earrings in 18k satin-finished yellow gold with 9.54 cts. t.w. fancy-cut black diamonds, 0.72 ct. t.w. colorless diamonds, and 0.07 ct. t.w. tsavorite, $16,000; Wendy Brandes
Ghostrider pendant necklace in 14k and 18k pink, white, and yellow gold with 13.16 cts. t.w. mixed gemstones including pink topaz, orange sapphires, yellow diamonds, aquamarines, pink sapphires, colorless diamonds, and rubies $39,998; email email@example.com at Julez Bryant for purchase.
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