There’s a wonderfully funny greeting card. It shows a young woman exercising, reaching unsuccessfully for the floor. It reads, “If the Lord wanted me to touch my toes, He would have put diamonds on the floor.” The scattering these days would be most colourful. Once diamonds were thought of as white only. Today, this agile damsel would probably be picking up pink, red, yellow and blue diamonds. Along side would be vibrant colored gemstones like emeralds, sapphires and rubies. For those who are fashion-forward, the scattering would also include peridot, topaz, tourmalines in every colour, trumpeting an entirely new palette for the updated styles with which the jewelry industry is tempting their customers.
There are few true luxury items left and jewelry has all the earmarks of replacing peoples’ obsession with clothes and cars. The $4,000 ring might easily replace the $4,000 outfit as a wardrobe update. But the bijoux are not for the meek of heart. These days, jewelry makes a bold statement. reflecting the glamour and colour that is showing up in fashion magazines and on catwalks of the fashion capitals of the world.
Tiffany & Company’s Melvyn Kirtley (New York’s VP, Group), still sees strength in the classic diamond designs set in platinum. However, he does add that unusual stones, like colored diamonds, the vivid blue paraiba, tanzanite and sapphires are creating lot of attention from clients. “Also, bold gold without gemstones is definitely an important item in rings, bracelets and necklaces. Gold is popular because you can wear it day or night. Although we don’t have statistics, in general, women are shopping alone and making their own decisions. But fancy colored diamonds from dark yellow to light fancy fine are certainly gaining in popularity.”
Coloured stones teamed with precious metal and good design have definitely seen a surge in interest. And opening new territory are the lattice-work designs seen more and more in bracelets, necklaces and rings. Still hanging on, are the popular mesh styled designs. Tiffany’s, never one to sit on their laurels, has a wonderful new gold design collection from designer Frank Gehry. The architectural look of the links, stress that this is a transitional time for jewelry. Kirtley cites that unusual gemstones and intense colored semi-precious ones are stirring the interest of consumers. Along with the cutting edge designs, Tiffany takes a look to the past. There’s a fresh approach from their archives. Inspired by the legendary Louis Comfort Tiffany, starbursts and crochet-worked gold have evolved to incorporate many of the elements of colored stones even though they are a throw-back to the Victorian era. But to the end, Kirtley, emphasizes the necessity of durability in their jewelry “We want our clients to enjoy wearing the pieces often and to pass them down through the generations.”
For over 27 years, Royal de Versailles in Toronto Canada, has been attracting the international social set which frequently come to this city just to purchase their large and very serious gem stones. Irit Shay, one of the company’s directors, has seen clients’ interest changing, not so much in their choice of jewelley but their knowledge. “Our globe trotting clients come in knowing exactly what they want and are giving more thought to the high end merchandise. They’d rather buy one seriously important piece than several smaller articles”. This landmark store, with the press-the buzzer- to-get- in, a la Milan, complete with a large security guard at the inside doorway, is an anomaly in this ‘city of the good’. Shay says “the need for security has become a necessity but that hasn’t stopped the conscious buyer who now concentrates on looks that are bigger, better, but simple.” Simplicity is selling. “We’re selling dragon flies, butterflies, birds, star fish, lizards, more than ever before. Brooches, which were never a big seller, are now extremely important since more and more businesswomen are wearing suits and want something on their lapels”.
Like fashion, there are always a few ‘stories’ for jewelry. One of London’s renowned designers hits a different button.
“Designs replicating animals are a bit retro and reminiscent of granny jewelry,” says Solange Patridge Azagury. “ However, flowers remain a symbol of beauty. The jewelry buyer of today, especially my clients, are women in their thirties and forties. They have a strong interest in fashion and design and want their jewelry to reflect this”.
For example her last collection was based on kinetic jewelry, which spin, tremble, shake, rattle and roll. However, jewelry with symbolism is of interest to Azagury. “My current collection draws its inspiration from the Bible and uses complicated technique of inlaying hard stones and precious gems.”
There’s more elegance to be seen then in previous years and the animal world, contrary to Azagury, seems to be attracting attention . It’s an important influence also seen in the fashion world as animal prints are spread on items from handbags to evening gowns. Recently, on the American shopping channel, designer/comedienne/ jewelry maven, Joan Rivers, exclaimed that one of her company’s best sellers was the animal print on gold ring.
At Bulgari, there are two big trends. “Yellow is the colour of the season as well as large carved stones. The high end is very strong,” says one of the sales staff. Another direction that jewelry is taking at this Italian firm, is designs that are more architectural, echoing Tiffany’s statement. “We can’t keep the B.01 rings, earrings and bracelets in stock,” I’m told, referring to the metal, spring-effect. “Our clients want bold and sleek designs. In the past there was more emphasis on pave. Instead of a series of small stones set in a pendent, clients want a full-cut diamond heart. “It’s much costlier than pave but women now have their own money and buying what they want.”
There’s always a warm and comfortable feeling at Cartier’s. They’re the barometer of what’s hot and what’s not. Diamonds are selling well and there’s a new line of colored stones with a theme. The shapes are whimsical which reflects the casual yet pricey edge luxury goods are heading towards..
One of the oldest jewellers and a landmark in Canada, Henry Birks & Sons Inc., has been providing gemstones to the public for over 120 years. Seeing strong directional changes in the eighties, the Italian owned company went with the flow and among their designers are Angela Cummings, Robert Lee Morris and Roberto Coin. Interestingly, they mention the technological advances with gold and the emergence of textile looking items. But they are on side with the fact that yellow gold has returned with a vengeance. Although their best sellers are still white diamond engagement rings set in classic mounts, the demand for the coloured stones are rising as are the requests for Kasumiga pearls which comes in a variety of pastel colours.
It may seem that jewelry designs are all over the place. It’s a zoo out there but the direction is clear- colored stones especially blue and yellow, bold and yellow gold. And size counts.