US Trends From Light to Dark

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By Gwen TorresMore from this author

After the moody, broody looks for fall, American fashion designers cleared the air for spring with easy, breezy, feminine clothes, declared Gwen Marder, fashion writer for Fox News after the runway shows in September. The feeling was exemplified by Cynthia Steffe, whose collection was inspired by visions of Catherine Deneuve and Brigitte Bardot running around St. Tropez appr. 1960.

US Trends

Steven Kretchmer's Polarium® rings featuring diamonds and cultured pearls all set in his magnetic platinum

Pendant mixing texture and details by Alex Sepkus

Sarah Graham's earrings in gold and blackened steel

22 karat gold bracelet with turquoise stations by Cathy Carmendy

24 karat gold and gem charm necklace by Gurhan

Laura Gibson's color burst necklace showcases the best color trends of this season

The current crop of jewelry is right in step with these fun and flirty clothes. Jewelry designers are working on romantic and femine chains, lockets, cocktail rings and more. Clear bright colored gems and a rainbow of diamond shades are tempting customers into the jewelry stores again.

Helena Krodel of the Jewelry Information Center said consumers will be seeking button earrings and hoops, layered necklaces and important bracelets, such as cuffs, thick bangles, or chunky charm bracelets. Darkened metal details and whimsical details will both be showcased this coming season.

Blackened silver and 18 karat gold rattlesnake necklace by Sarah Graham

Cuff bracelet in clusters of mackel diamonds, rough rubies and raw diamond cubes set in 18 karat gold by Todd Reed

Sterling cuff links "Sports" by Robin Rotenier

Into the dark

Fine jewelry with a rock-and-roll edge is gaining popularity. For designer Sarah Graham the beauty is in the blackened details of her organic designs. She mixes silver, gold and blackened steel for an edgy mix of metals that appeals to a wide range of customers. Her newest design is a rattlesnake pattern of articulated links that encircle the neck at the throat. She also offers stack rings in all her metal colors with and without gems.

For another dark look there are the raw diamond designs of Todd Reed. Reed pioneered the raw diamond look in America since 1992 and continues to mix and match different colors, shades and shapes of natural diamonds. He surrounds them with yellow gold and oxidized silver to create contrast and graphic appeal. He brings a unique edge to his jewelry that is at once refined and a bit untamed at the same time. Collectors are lining up all across the States.

Another walk on the dark side is fashions current obsession with skulls. Many design firms have debuted skull-themed jewelry in the past two seasons and the look ranges from amusing to downright scary. There are high-polished silver skulls and genteel skulls with pave-set diamonds. Along with this look there are lots of new punk rock inspired designs that are right off the concert stage; heavy oxidized sterling links, dog tags, crosses, crests, lightning bolts and more. Black diamonds and rhodiumplating around pave-set stones fit right into this current rage.

Menswear is a very hot category right now and some of the best links are done by David Heston. His sexy, curved segments are perfect for every masculine wrist. For cufflinks there's a vast array of figurative and, abstract designs by Robin Rotenier that appeal to most men.

22 karat gold cocktail ring with diamonds by Coomi Jewels

Platinum and green beryl earrings by Erica Courtney

Richly textured 18 karat gold art jewelry rings featuring one-of-a-kind gems by Katey Brunini

A season of romance

Gilded and lacey details incorporated into important pendants and regal brooches evoke a sense of yesteryear. The Victorian era, which was consumed with romance and death, has inspired austere new jewelry. Dark gemstones, such as onyx, amethyst, and garnet, will be popular. Helena Krodel of the Jewelry Information Center said jewelry with bows and especially the white metals like platinum, white gold and sterling silver will also be important.

Leading the pack is designer Julie Bergstein of Just Jules with her can't-keep-in- stock collection of locket necklaces featuring antique lockets and watch fobs hung from delicate chains with yellow diamond and pearl accents. Many well-heeled customers prefer a bigger statement and micro-pavé diamond designs fit the bill nicely. Hollywood jeweler to the stars, Erica Courtney, tracks down large, bright stones to center in her designs that look very regal and elegant. She can do rockstar crosses, crowns and skulls better than anyone but she often transforms those funky elements with a sprinking of diamonds or the addition of outrageous Tahitian pearls.

Brooches and pins are the perfect accessory to be added to the two hottest looks of the season, which are cropped jackets and headbands. Cocktail rings that feature grandiose colored gemstones are the way to make a statement this year. Also of note are the large thick precious metal bands with interesting carvings that are available from many designers. Katey Brunini's new collection incorporates 18 karat gold, sterling silver, colored diamonds, wood replacement opal, aquamarine crystal, exquisite bi-color tourmaline, and rare melo pearls. The look is organic, romantic and not for the faint of heart.

One of the newest gems cropping up in all kinds of collections is the icy green Prehenite. It works well with both white and yellow metals and can get fancy or save for everyday. Other icy colored stones like morganite, aquamarine and green beryl are quite refreshing now too.

Organic textures are a major trend and Coomi Bhasin of Coomi Jewels creates high-karat gold designs that entice every woman looking to make a fashion statement. Coomis hand-wrapped 22 karat gold wire jewels often feature rose-cut and uncut diamonds in all ranges of champagne and cognac colors. She was one of the first to incorporate a wildly diverse group of rose-cut, uncut, flat-cut diamonds in shades of beige to chocolate in her collections and it's become a bankable signature for her. She mixes East and West, traditional and trendy, in her styling.

Lots of designers are mixing different colored golds like the tri-colored gold stack rings by Suzy Landa or the "crushed" gold designs of newcomer Pamela Froman who often mixes all three colors in one piece. Her signature texture is attracting a lot of attention this season. And hoops of all kinds and designs are having a resurgence. Pamela shows many types of hoops including a very trendy thin hoop with a "headlight" of a diamond right in the center facing the onlookers.

One-of-a-kind aquamarine and mokume necklace by George Sawyer fuels the love of art jewelry

14 karat gray gold, sterling mokume gane, 18 karat yellow gold, 22 karat yellow gold, patinated sterling puzzle brooch "Puzzle Me" by George Sawyer. Made for the AJDC Puzzle Project Collection 1999

Long 18 karat yellow and pink gold chain by Suzy Landa

18 karat gold in three colors and diamonds - micro-eternity bands by Suzy Landa

To get women into the idea of wearing multiple stack rings Tiffany's debuted a "create your stack tool" on its website allowing consumers to mix and match different diamond and gemstone bands from Tiffany's Celebration Rings Collection. That's one way to call attention to a trend! Chunky, hunky large link chains are gaining fashion momentum but are slow to replace layered necklaces. There are many ways to get the volume in a lighter way with more open links. Fern Freeman had a very successful debut season this year with asymmetrical links of gold, tortoise and gems. Very hippy chic.

18 karat yellow crushed gold scroll ring with diamonds and hoops "Cleopatra" by Pamela Froman Fine Jewelry

18 karat tri-color crushed gold hoops by Pamela Froman Fine Jewelry

When it comes to one-of-a-kind designs there are many talented designers who can really triumph with the use of one-of-a-kind stones and innovative metalsmithing techniques. Susan Helmich always makes an inspired design partner with Tom and Bernd Munsteiner when she takes one of their stones and makes it her own. And George Sawyer, master of mokume-gane, gets to unleash his creativity when he tries to make a jewel that is unlike any other. He always brings a particular point-of-view and artistic voice to his one-of-a-kinds that really cause conversation and adoration.

Ladylike or rocker-chic, colorful or monochromatic this season's American designers are using their talents to create excitement in the fine jewelry world.

by Cindy Edelstein

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