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.”
Whenever you hear of engagement rings with a non-diamond colored gem center, you (or I) typically think first of blue sapphire. It’s been that way at least since Charles gave Diana the now-iconic Garrard Jewelers ring, which William later gifted to Kate. Nonetheless, that was more than three decades ago—and I’m starting to think that ruby, the corundum’s red sister, is poised to topple blue sapphire’s reign.
You’ve noticed, right? As arm parties continue in vogue, the most popular bangles are stick-thin. And look, before everyone goes all PC and reminds me that “size 2 is the new size 0” and all of that, the Size Zeroes I’m talking about are super-slim stack bracelets. Diameter, of course, doesn’t factor in—instead, it’s about the waif-thin width of the bracelet.
On Saturday afternoon, I was in a suburban mall, where there are about a dozen jewelers (mostly chains, a few independents). I went into every store, looking for ear climbers, one of the hottest new jewelry adornments for ears. Nothing.
As always, before the Las Vegas shows, exhibitors (and their publicists and marketing people) made a to-do about the new collections we’d see and, in those months, one thing became crystal clear: many more designer-types would be premiering bridal. I expect that level of pre-show hype. What I didn’t expect, however, was what I actually saw: distinctly new style directions, beyond the usual things like colored stone centers, rough-cut gems, and Deco redux. Hands-down, among the best trends to emerge in handcrafted bridal were: mini-sized, out-of-the-box men’s, rose and yellow gold, and natural shapes in metal.
Usually, I return from the annual Las Vegas jewelry shows excited to write about the new collections—as well as to add to my personal wish list. But this year I’m more obsessed with what jewelry I’ll buy for my male family members than for myself. Does that mean I’ve become more generous? No, not particularly—what it does mean, however, is that the men’s jewelry category is on fire. Actually, it’s ablaze—hotter than it’s been in years, maybe since the Mad Men-era. But, very importantly, this modern men’s mien in jewelry is often focused on dressed-down day pieces. The idea? New “casual cool” men’s jewels.