2020 has been a challenging year to say the least. But with resilience and hope, we continue to look toward positive change in the future. Looking back on the past year of jewelry, we saw creativity soar in design and how jewelers market collections, sell and show collections. It was also a year in which we invested in more classic everyday pieces with a modern vibe—think of the new pearls, diamond jewelry and gold chains. We also saw bright stars emerge in contemporary collections and rare antique jewelry come out of generational jewelry boxes and make their way into the market. Jewelry designers worked on films, wrote books, showed us how they create from sketch to final pieces and even gave us a glimpse into how they organize their collections, providing tips for the rest of us. One of the most prevalent trends was towards customized engagement rings. And everyone from designers to their customers were wearing talisman—that evoked different symbolism and meanings but provided feelings of protection, love, luck, guidance and direction.
Here are the most popular themes that I covered for 2020:
Throughout the pandemic, jewelry designers wore their favorite talisman in Instagram posts and talked to me here about how they feel protective by them. Many of the same designers worked on translating ancient and antique symbolic offered a unique spin on motifs and gemstones that have been popular throughout history. Different variations on protection, strength, empowerment, hope, guidance, luck and love all were explored during this period and continue to evolve to wear on charm necklaces and bracelets or as single medallions.
Beth Bugdaycay at Foundrae continues to expand her tenets and collections with deep meaning that each client can interpret in a way that relates to their lives and during the 2020 she has been turning out some of the most beautiful and inspired designers. Pictured here: a rose and star pendant which is influenced by the poem “The Rose of the World” by W.B. Yeats published in 1893. Bugdaycay explains, “The permanence of love lies in the fusion of both the heart and the soul. The sensuality of the rose is temporal; time is symbolized by the three stages of bloom. It’s beauty can only be immortal once our souls are bound to each other. The star represents energy & divine guidance and when surrounding the rose, it symbolizes the spiritual quality of enduring love.” The shield pendant carries another strong meaning, “in the face of adversity, we pursue a life filled with blossoms which continue to bloom, even in darkness –evoking our resilience” It is accompanied by the phrase, “Non Invia Est Via, which translates into “No road is impassable.”
Foundrae’s double talisman pendant the rose and star pendant symbolizing the spiritual quality of enduring love and the shield pendant which symbolizes resilience.
Foundrae’s double talisman pendants
Pearls share a rich history of royalty, fashion, celebrity, symbolism and legend. Over the past few years, they are also witnessing a renaissance that dusts off any associations with being outdated, prim, preppy or conventional. Whether uber-modern and edgy, minimal and sleek, feminine and romantic or inspired by a mix of time periods, pearls are definitely having their day. They appear on wire chokers and bracelets or long earrings even a perfect strand of pearls gets a makeover set into all around yellow gold crown settings. The new pearl designs, even those that give nod to earlier time periods come alive with a current vibe and are being created cultured, South Sea, baroque and Akoya pearls.
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Assael South Sea Pearl and Aquamarine Fan drop earring inspired by Art Deco Designs with a modern sensibility.
Assael South Sea Pearl and Aquamarine Fan drop earrings.with 6 South Sea Cultured Pearls, 10mm, set … [+] with Fan-Shaped Aquamarine, 14.74 carats, and 10 Black Jade Beads, 4mm, in Platinum with Clip Backs.
Jamie Wolf’s Cultured pearl necklace in 18K yellow gold crown settings create a contemporary take on the classic pearl choker we associate with style icons such as Jackie Kennedy and Grace Kelly.
Jamie Wolf’s Cultured pearl necklace in 18K yellow gold crown settings
3-Every Day Diamonds
What woman doesn’t love a pair of diamond earrings that adds a little sparkle around her face. Over the past few years, earrings have witnessed a renaissance and there is large selection for every taste and lifestyle. And, if we are still staying home, earrings are a feel good piece of jewelry that can be worn around the house or for any and every occasion. If you are part of the WFH tribe and are having video conferences or meeting in sweatpants and slippers on the bottom, you can fake being “dressed” with a pair of diamond earrings and a little makeup. The new takes on diamond tennis bracelets in different cuts of diamonds and pendants with diamond accents are also styles from which to choose forever day diamond wear.
Anita Ko’s 18K gold diamond huggies with pear shaped diamond center. .47 TCW of pear diamonds with accents of pave diamonds.
Anita Ko’s Diamond Huggie Earrings with Pearl Shaped diamonds and pave
4-Bespoke Engagement Rings
Customization has been the buzzword in jewelry for the past few years and it continues to evolve most predominantly in engagement rings. These rings, which once spoke of status and keeping up with your peers transformed into styles that signify different times in a women’s life, pieces that will tell your intimate and personal story. It began with alternative engagement ring that eventually became a large portion of engagement ring sales. This led to symbolism and meaning becoming as important as beauty and craftsmanship. Personalization as essential as the 4Cs in diamonds and the color of gemstones. This trend which was already underway has now been influenced by imaginative ways to sell online and virtually, due to the global pandemic. It has also been heavily inspired by millennials who are seeking out rings that are completely original to their lifestyles.
Kendra Pariseault 3.01-carat oval center stone set in 18K yellow gold bespoke engagement ring with side accents of side diamonds. A beauty to behold
Kendra Pariseault oval diamond engagment ring
5-Designer Jewelry Books
During 2020, many jewelry books were released which, if you are an enthusiast of this wearable medium, it was a way to look and learn more about different periods of jewelry while we sheltered in place and stayed safe at home. And while there were a range of books chock full of antiques, historical jewels and pieces from renowned houses, there were also a refreshing amount of contemporary designer monographs. One of my favorites was Shaun Leane (ACC Artbooks, July 2020) One of the most visionary, poetic and relevant jewelers of our time, Shaun Leane pushed the boundaries of fine jewelry into a world that explores the paradoxes of life and then magically expresses them in gemstones and precious metals. The book features text by author and historian Vivienne Becker, gemologist and author Joanna Hardy and Claire Wilcox, Chair in Fashion Curation at the London College of Fashion as well as Senior Curator of Fashion at the Victoria & Albert museum since 2004. From his beginning as an apprentice restoring antique jewels where he developed a passion for the past, and with a respect for the history of the art form, he deconstructed, reassessed and modernized the romance and intricacies for international contemporary customers.
The Book Jacket Cover of Shaun Leane (ACC ARTBOOKS)
Shaun Leane Book Jacket Cover
After Leane takes us on his journey into jewelry, the book continues to then more of his story Claire Wilcox delves into his breathtaking collaboration with Alexander McQueen. In Leane’s intro, he lets us in to his feelings about working with his closest friend, explaining, “The late Lee Alexander McQueen was a visionary who generously shared a journey with me for 18 years. He was a man who truly opened my mind to possibilities and fearlessness. When we first started working together in the early 1990s, we dived head-first into each show, fueled with the reckless excitement of two young men with nothing to lose.” A philosophy that Leane has worked and lived by is one he credits to McQueen, and explains in his foreword, “ It was Lee who gave me the freedom to know that a skill is a gift, and that armed with self-belief it is possible to think outside a very traditional discipline and apply it to new mediums. To this day, my core belief is that nothing is impossible.”
6- Designers To Watch
Born and raised in Paris, Marie Lichtenberg was also born into the jewelry business. She had a mom who owned an antiques/vintage jewelry store and would play in the shop for hours. When it came time for Lichtenberg to decide on a career however, she took a job at French Elle where she worked for 12 years as a fashion stylist and editor. “I had the best time working for ELLE,” Lichtenberg says. “I loved the travel and working with the amazing photographers and designers. It was a truly a fun experience for most of the years that I was there and it helped shaped my tastes and taught me so much. But at some point I needed to really do something by myself and for myself . Fashion became a machine. Print magazines were not the same as they were when I first started. The energy and the passion that I felt for so long faded and I wasn’t as motivated. I wanted to do something I loved again, to start something new and get out of my comfort zone.” She went back to her roots and designed a collection of artfully detailed, joyful and lyrical clasps that all began with one necklace her mother owned. She then turned it into a line of her ‘favorite things’—sayings, color combinations and motifs . These give a nod to vintage and antique jewels without being redundant —that all seem to fit together as a collection that relies on imagination and gut instinct to which international women have and will continue to relate. What began as a project to create something she loved has turned into growing global business.”
Marie Lichtenberg’s English and Fresh sayings on three dimensional clasps inspired by antique jewelry
Marie Lichtenberg’s English and Fresh sayings on three dimensional clasps inspired by antique … [+] jewelry
7-The Best Antique Jewelry Online and on IG
During the first five months of the pandemic, I had a chance to catch up on my favorite antique jewelry accounts on Instagram. For antique jewelry enthusiasts and collectors, the photos featured on IG grant an inside look at pieces we might have not yet seen, the rarest of the rare authentic jewels. So, I started to make a list of my fantasy jewels—pieces from Georgian through Art Deco times. Some are pure dream styles. But every now and then, especially in times of stress and uncertainty, it’s fun to make-believe.
At Estate Diamond Jewelry I wandered onto this wide Art Deco bracelet. Oh what a statement this would make. It’s definitely red carpet worth and black tie ready.
It features a symmetrical design of faceted onyx and rubies surrounding the bracelet. Bordering the gemstones is old European cut diamonds. Centering the bracelet is a streamlined design of baguette cut diamonds and old European cut diamonds set into platinum, circa 1920.
Estate Diamond Jewelry’s Art Deco Wide bracelet with rubies, sapphires, and diamondsn
8 – Connecting With Gold Chains
Statement chains in yellow gold became must have piece of jewelry to own over the past two years. Whether women chose from antique, vintage or modern chains, the look was one that had presence without overpowering the wearer. One of the edgier antique or vintage looks we began noticing was two different shorter watch fob chains combined into one longer necklace. Contemporary designers have hooked into this look, featuring different links in one chain or adding on additional closures that become part of the entire look. I first started noticing the trend to weightier and gutsier chains in 2016, and they are being linked and looped together in creative ways. Many of the modern links take their cue from antique bold gold curb and paperclip watch chains and/or long vintage 70s large rectangular and oval links. Your clients can wear these alone or add charms and medallions. Foundrae, Marla Aaron and Monica Rich Kossan are perfect examples of showing different lengths, styles and widths of chains and connector links to add their meaningful pendants. Add different charms or play with how to wear the longer versions doubled with brooches as connectors or creatively tie and restyle them as lariats or elongated Y necklaces.
Deborah Pagani’s 18K yellow gold Pill link necklace with pink sapphire and diamond baguettes and pink enamel.
Deborah Pagani’s 18K yellow gold Pill link necklace with pink sapphire and diamond baguettes and … [+] pink enamel
Theses heavy yet buttery textured filigree French chains from approximately the turn-of-the-century are often difficult to locate in their original lengths. Here is one that has not been cut down and is a rare find from The Spare Room Antiques.
Spare Room Antiques French Chain, circa 1980-1910, 18K gold.
The Spare Room Antiques
9- From Sketch To Final Design
While much of the country continued to figure out the best apps and programs to meet, share information and do their jobs from home, international independent jewelry designers were immersed in creative expression. They revealed how they turn pencil renderings into refined sketches and eventual into fine jewelry in precious metals and gemstones.
Here one of the designers I interviewed in the original story, Ana Katerina talks about her process for her cameo designs.
Ana Katarina Eros Sketch
“I believe to love and to be loved is our greatest superpower. Each cameo in this series I created represents a relationship or a deep moment of love in our lives. I designed the line to be collected as keepsakes of these memories and each with a mantra or blessing on the back. As I relived the experiences in my own life, the designs became more and more clear. Writing the mantras was also personal as I needed to find few words to express nuanced and deep feelings. Once I finish a sketch, it is sent to our carver and refined for the cameo. Our fourth generation female stone carver proceeds by carving through different layers of agate that results in a relief of the subject. The cameo is sent to our production office in NYC and set into an 18K gold bezel with a mantra inscribed on the back.”
Ana Katarina’sfinal version of the Eros cameo
10- Jewelry Organization Tips From Designers
When jewelry designers weren’t sketching out new ideas, they were doing what we were doing. Organizing their jewelry. They gave us a peek inside their proverbial ‘jewelry boxes’ and talked about how they like to arrange their personal jewelry wardrobes, rotate pieces in and out, wear they favorites and clearly see what they have. If you haven’t already read the full story and incorporated some of their tricks as tips for your own collections then it might be a good time to try. Here is what the cult designer Jacquie Aiche said, “Keeping all of my jewels organized has been a mission. Over the years, I’ve discovered that giving each piece a designated space is the easiest way for me to store everything. I love these silver boxes I found – each carries something specific. I organize them by gemstone and style so everything has a place. It’s my favorite way to keep stock of my personal collection…when I’m looking for a personal adornment, I always know where to find it. And I love to keep pieces I’m currently drawn to on my crystals or Hamsa trays for easy access. They’re the layers that bring me balance…the energy they carry is what I need most in the present moment.”
Jackie Aiche’s jewelry organization. Tip: Designate specific spaces for your most cherished pieces so you know where to find them. Small trays that have meaning are also great for accessing your jewelry that are your go to talisman.
Jackie Aiche’s jewelry organization
11-The Gold Standard In Self Purchase Pieces
Jewelry today not only has to tell our stories and represent our individuality, but also be nonchalant and pieces we can just throw on. Jewelry is much harder working than ever before, and the simpler, less complicated the piece, the more we will wear it. When I think about these standards and what will look natural, yet expertly curated for our big moments on Zoom or one day again in real life –I think about going for the gold—yellow gold jewelry with or without a sprinkling of diamonds based on classic styles with a little extra daring in execution and/or details. . I also realize that we will be purchasing these pieces—as we know what looks and feels best as well as suits our personal styles. These are the pieces that have presence in our present and will become heirlooms in our future.
Linda Hoj’s 22K earrings with grey diamonds create a perfect balance between timeless treasures and modernity. They also balance linear and chandelier style earrings in a more wearable and versatile style that has movement and fluidity.
Linda Hoj’s 22K earring with grey diamonds.
12—From Real to Reel
Since this past March, at least two designers I know have had their jewelry featured in on the small screen on A-list style setting talents. Alex Soldier’s enchanting naturalistic and colorful jewelry was featured on Gwyneth Paltrow’s character in the first and second season of the Netflix original series The Politician. While HBO’s six episodes of The Undoing showed Nicole Kidman wearing fingers full of symbolic yellow gold rings by Danish Designer Rebecca Elbek. (see here for full articles on both: The Undoing, The Politician
Photo of Nicole Kidman wearing Rebecca Elbek’s rings in The Undoing.
NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 27: Nicole Kidman is seen on March 27, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Nancy … [+] Rivera/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
In the Netflix original series Gwyneth Paltrow lights up the small screen once again as Georgina, the mother of adopted son Payton Hobart. The show reunites the team—Ryan Murphy, Ian Brennan and Paltrow’s husband Brad Falchuk who co-created Glee—the show in which Paltrow last starred on the small screen. For Season 1, costume designer Lou Eyrich, long-time collaborator with Murphy was hired to create the costumes for Paltrow as well as Jessica Lange. By Season 2, Claire P and her sister Lily Parkinson took over the costumes for the entire cast including Paltrow. When asked if there was something specific about the Alex Soldier jewelry in general that hit a responsive chord with the costume designers, they said, “When choosing the Alex Soldier earrings in both seasons, we wanted to find pieces that were just as bold as the outfit. Lily, my assistant designer / sister and I loved that the brand makes pieces with responsibly sourced materials as well. The floral earrings we used in Season 2 were just so beautiful, made with pearls and opals, imbuing the pieces with a shine that really popped on camera and complimented the Monique Lhuillier halter style dress. We also loved the floral design element, connecting with the character and story’s emphasis on sustainability within our world’s environment.”
Gwyneth Paltrow wearing Alex Soldier’s floral earrings in The Politican
Gwyneth Paltrow wearing Alex Soldier’s floral earrings in “The Politican”
Photo courtesy of Netflix
Content retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/bethbernstein/2020/12/22/a-look-back-at-2020-jewelry-stories/?sh=171955f91b1f.