As the spot price for gold continues to soar, gold-intensive jewellery companies are getting more creative about how to design great jewellery with reduced amounts of metal. Designs are more lightweight – and therefore affordable – than ever, yet even more creative than solid pieces, and just as bold. They have the bulk but not the mass of previous collections, and are more sculptural and architectural. Solid pieces such as pendants, rings and earrings are punctuated by cookie-cutter open spaces in the shape of motifs such as hearts and stars, allowing for a big look without the chunkiness and weight. Chains are characterized by large, open links. In rings, there are moat-like spaces between centre stones and bezels. Gold wire is twisted and woven in an array of sculptural shapes, punctuated with diamonds and other gemstone. All of these design techniques result in pieces that retain a large frame, even while the amount of gold used is substantially less. In effect, it follows the lead of costume jewellery, which goes for a big look with inexpensive materials. Best of all, this new unbearable lightness of being not only makes pieces more affordable, but easier to wear.
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend no matter what color they are, and in the case of small yellow and cognac diamonds, they are often priced more affordably than their pure, colorless cousins. Many rings now contain fewer large centre diamonds in favor of clusters of several smaller stones, including colored diamonds and colored diamond accents. This is a reflection not only of the economy but the tight supply of white diamonds over 40 or 50 points. Because diamonds are the hardest gem known to man, they have a higher light return than any other gemstone, and this is true no matter what color they are. A piece of jewellery with pavé-set yellow or brown diamonds will therefore sparkle as much as one with white diamonds, and more one with colored gemstones. A combination of white and colored diamonds or white and black diamonds adds greater dimension to a piece than a monochrome, white-diamond-only design. In some cases, rather than appearing in full pavé mode, diamonds of every color are showing up in random sections or at intervals on metal surfaces. The result? Lots of sparkle at the right price.
Large colored gems, particularly in pastel colors, are popping up in the latest jewellery collections as the preferred centre stone for rings, pendants and earrings. Light-hued and semi-translucent gems such as rose quartz, milky aquamarine, light-colored amethyst (also called rose de France), rutilated quartz and lighter shades of tourmaline are ideal for big looks in jewellery because of their understated tones and reasonable cost. Because they are more affordable than highly saturated gems of comparable size, these pastel stones can go big, you get a bang for the buck. Some of the big brands are even experimenting with rarely used opaque minerals, such as calcite and agate, for looks that are bold, unique and affordable. Even highly-saturated fine gemstones, including amethyst and tourmaline are being used as central stones in fine jewellery collections again, as manufacturers move away from pieces that are minimalist and primarily white. Many are designed with an offset bezel, attached from underneath so that it frames or circles the center stone, with open space in between. This reduces the amount of metal, making a piece lighter and more wearable. Diamonds are still serving as accent stones, but the beauty of colored gemstones is shining through in fine jewellery this season.
While flower shapes have always been an important motif in fine jewellery, the trend emerging now is more about free-form petals. Flower rings and pendants are especially popular. This petal-mania trend is not only a great forum for bold colors – in the form of enamels and brightly colored gemstones – but it is infusing jewellery with a distinctively feminine style. The new floral pieces tend to be highly stylized, often set with gems in graduated hues of the same color. Often the gems are invisibly set, resulting in a fully colored surface area that is extremely dramatic. And even though flowers are everywhere this year, each brand’s floral collections somehow stand out as particularly unique. This might be due to the highly stylized manner and the many different ways in which this design motif has the potential to be expressed.
Rose gold is now as prominent, if not more prominent, than yellow and white gold in both jewellery and watch collections. Until recently, rose gold was used almost exclusively by watch companies to distinguish special-edition or important complicated pieces. Today, it has become standard, not only in watches but in jewellery collections as well. There are no particular market forces driving the transformation to rose gold; it seems to be based purely on preference, though it might be said to have emerged three years ago when brown became a strong color in fashion runway collections. The two standard colors are 4N and 5N, with 5N slightly more pink and therefore often referred to as red gold. Many jewellery companies have begun to tailor the mix to achieve their own trademark shade of pink, somewhere between 4N and 5N. However rose gold is made, the end result is a wonderful, rich color that many consider to be more refined and less flashy than yellow gold.