Lorraine DePasque is a contributing writer for INSTORE and INDESIGN. She is also a freelance journalist who has covered the fine jewelry industry for more than two decades. Having seen thousands of collections, met thousands of artisans, schlepped through hundreds of trade shows, judged hundreds of design competitions, and writtten several thousand jewelry articles, she has one simple request: “Please don’t tell me something is innovative when it isn’t.”
The trouble with trends is that they’re not always pretty. And, if you ask me, this obsession with owls is one of those. Beautiful, maybe, but classically “pretty”? Not so much. I admit, this trend took me by surprise. Yes, I’ve been watching the burgeoning bird-themed designs—peacocks, parrots, and some other feathered friends—something that, in 2014, we should actually be seeing even more of. But these wide-faced, small-beaked, big-eyed birds? No, despite that the owl's been a pop-culture focus in fashion and home design, I didn’t really see the owl jewelry thing coming on strong.
Some words and phrases are ‘so yesterday’--winter whites is one of them. If you recall, in fashion circles, the term became passé last year—as runway leaders changed the rules, and white is now year round. And finally, this year, jewelry has joined fashion in banning the concept: White semiprecious stones are no longer spring/summer-only. As if to prove the point, there’s a particularly strong focus for fall/holiday on white agate, white opal, white quartz, white topaz, white sapphire, and rock crystal.
Oops—it’s not that easy for me to switch gears from fashion (what I usually cover) to football (which I never cover). So on Tuesday, when I met New York Giants’ Eli Manning for an interview at Macy’s Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey, that’s pretty much how my first question popped out. Given that the two-time MVP and Super Bowl champion was there to premiere Citizen’s Eco-Drive Limited Edition Eli Manning World Time A-T watch, I realize—now--that I should have asked “What are you wearing?” instead of who. Fortunately, Mr. Manning, who’s very excited about the timepiece, graciously answered by lifting his wrist to show it to me . . . and started to discuss its features.
Given the huge interest in serpentine style throughout 2013, “The Year of the Snake,” it’s understandable that some brands have stallion and mare motifs in mind for 2014, “The Year of the Horse.” Roberto Coin is one of them. I recently spoke with the Italian designer about his plans for the “Cheval Chinois Collection,” based on Arabian horses. And, after months of talking with others about the Chinese zodiac calendar’s influence on their upcoming lines, I’m not surprised that Mr. Coin’s new collection will be limited edition. In fact, for 2014, it looks like most who’ll take cues from the Year of the Horse will make one-ofs or limited editions--as opposed to the more mass snake designs we’ve seen slithering here, there, and everywhere.
Over the years, I’ve learned a lot by judging different jewelry design competitions. One thing’s always a given: On reviewing the assortment — not just the winners—trends sort of stand out. Certainly, that was the case on Sunday, when I arrived at a “top-secret studio” in New York for a first peak at the 2014 Spectrum Awards winners. An hour earlier, some 30 to 50 winners were chosen in the American Gem Trade Association’s 30th edition of its annual Spectrum competition. I met there with three other judges — Tara Silberberg of The Clay Pot, Candace Edelman of Alex Sepkus, and Jennifer Heebner of JCK — to decide on four winners in the final category, the WJA Gem DIVA Awards, which the Women’s Jewelry Association sponsors in affiliation with AGTA’s Spectrums.
This week , as the curtain came down on the last fashion show in Paris, my month-long journey of following the spring 2014 collections finally came to an end. And as you’ve likely figured out from my headline here, the single strongest trend to emerge? Shine. I’m sure some of you are thinking that shine on the runways of New York, London, Milan, and Paris is a fashion-only thing. It isn’t—it will impact jewelry. And not only for spring/summer, but way beyond. Perhaps if I make a jewelry analogy, you’ll see why I’m saying this . . .
Last night’s red carpet fashion was a fail. In fact, for the annual Emmy Awards, it may have been the worst in recent memory. I kept wondering if the stars’ stylists hadn’t yet returned from their summer vacations. On the other hand, the jewelry they wore just pulled you in. Were the jewels avant-garde? No, but you could tell that these stars of the small screen didn’t care about “safe.” Instead, they wore pieces that played to individual style. And especially when it came to the three top trends of the TV’s big night: color-drop earrings, vintage pieces, and creative cuffs.
In all probability, most of what you read about last week’s Women’s Jewelry Association (WJA) “Jewelry Night Out” will focus on the fun and festivities of the first-of-its-kind event, held in 15 cities coast-to-coast, concurrently, to celebrate the organization’s 30th anniversary and to encourage new and renewal membership. And that’s fine, because it’s true. But for me, “Jewelry Night Out” was more than several after-work hours of Instagramming, champagne-sipping, and networking: It was another personal victory over the words “Black, two sugars.”
So far, so good: With only today and tomorrow left of New York Fashion Week, I’m happy to report there’s still a lot of black-and-white. Given the more-than-usual amount of black-and-white jewelry launched mid-year, I’ve been concerned that the fashion world (fickle as it’s known to be) may have done a one-eighty. And if that had happened, what would become of the countless new jewelry collections based on black and white diamonds, Tahitian and white pearls, or black sapphires, jade, and onyx set in white ceramic, enamel, and resin?
Like moonstone and labradorite several years ago, one of the newest “old stones” to trend again is lapis lazuli. Clearly, fashion has been a great motivator. In July, at the Paris Couture Shows, blackened-blues—as well as black-and-blue—ruled the runways. And, over the past year, some of my favorite red carpet looks were A-listers dripping in shades of indigo and ink. So I suspect that, when gem dealers showed jewelry designers lapis-lazuli—a stone that is, by far, one of the most color-complementary to such intense midnight blues—they were inspired to create collections around it.