Talent Show

Top Emerging Designers of 2013 Showcase Imagination & Definitive Styles

BY BETH BERNSTEIN

Published in the July/August 2013 issue

 

For INDESIGN’s fifth edition of this story, which annually features the year’s best independent emerging designers, our esteemed panel of retailer judges has chosen creators who share a common thread: They stay true to their brands. Whether the signature style is one-of-a-kind or whimsical, exuberant or trendsetting, each of these creative women sticks closely to her own sensibility to create jewelry that is just as impressive as a collection as it is by individual piece.

WENDY YUE

While Hong Kong native Wendy Yue’s designs are flamboyant and fantastic, the artist herself is a private person who seeks to express herself through her jewelry while allowing her designs to convey her worldliness and sensibilities. At a young age, Yue traveled from Asia to Europe on a journey of self-discovery. She began to record her travels with coloredpencil drawings, which prompted her beginnings in jewelry. The idea of creating pieces to be worn daily seemed like the most enduring monument to remember her travels. Today, the collection embodies three-dimensional glimpses of nature’s wonders and a panorama of flashbacks into landscapes, sounds, and scents that delve to touch the depths of our imaginations. “Art is up to the interpretation of the beholder,” Yue says. “It may be an emotion, an atmosphere, a melody, or a memory that a piece evokes. Bounding my work with any narrow categorization or precise definition dilutes the essence of it.”

SURVEY SAYS
“The attention to detail in this line captures my attention. The incredibly intricate design and creativity give the feel of wearing a piece of art. No matter what jewelry a client has in her jewelry box at home, she does not have a piece like one in this collection. The only suggestion I would make is to add some smaller opening price-point pieces — pieces those who love the line can start with and then grow to the grand statement styles.” JAIMIE GELLER




“Absolutely love the individuality of each piece. There is so much movement and a three-dimensional feel. Wendy’s choice in color combination is sophisticated but yet very playful. Also, there is the beauty of contrast with opaque stones. Smart! The versatility of being able to wear the rings in different ways with the multiple components is a true selling point.” JANICE BLUMBERG




“Wendy’s jewelry has the ability to transport you to a place where both the animate and inanimate come to life. At first glance, you are drawn to the incredible colors. Then, upon a closer look, you see the impressive amount of detail involved in that same piece. It’s apparent that Wendy draws from her Asian heritage. A woman who wears a piece of Wendy Yue jewelry is experienced with jewelry — definitely a sophisticated customer who is more interested in the depth and intrigue that a one-of-akind, special piece of jewelry can hold.” RADA SAHNEY

Talent Show: Wendy Yue

Rose necklace in 18K white gold with diamonds, rubies, pink sapphires, rhodolite garnets and tsavorites

Rose necklace in 18K white gold with diamonds, rubies, pink sapphires, rhodolite garnets and tsavorites

CAROLINA BUCCI

Carolina Bucci creates jewelry that transcends fleeting fads with a unique spirit that makes her designs a favorite among celebrities and fashion press alike. Her own collection is a vibrant reinvention of her rich history, which dates back to her great-grandfather, a jeweler in Florence. Her individual taste and sense of style asserted itself at a young age, and she traveled to New York to obtain the education that provided her with the technical know-how necessary to execute her vision. Afterwards, Bucci returned to Florence and worked alongside local goldsmiths, encouraging them to push the boundaries of their traditional practices to create her first collection, named Woven. Using a centuries-old Florentine textile loom to weave gold and silk threads, the collection has become her trademark.

SURVEY SAYS
“Carolina’s pieces are so easy to layer and collect. All of the groups within the collection can be worn together. It also appeals to a wide range of women, from the woman who loves her bling to the understated hippie. I love that so many of the pieces have meaning behind them. Carolina has made sure to have a great entry level price point without diluting the value of the higher end pieces.”JAIMIE GELLER




“I met her and her family in New York and was immediately impressed by the vitality and originality of her work. The pieces reflect her awareness of the world around her, culminating in her classic woven friendship bracelets. We have many clients who tie them on once and never take off the bracelets even through daily showers and hurricanes. Not too many designers that I know have their work in the permanent collection of the Palazzo Pitti Museum in Florence!”MARIE HELENE MORROW




“With her namesake line, Carolina has been able to reinvent Italian-style jewelry. Her mix of delicately woven silks with gold pavé diamond hardware is a perfect blend of what women want: Bold yet casual luxury. The Florentine finish on her pieces reminds me of the Old World fine jewelry one would find on a trip to Italy years ago. Her Mirador collection is a tribute to the rich Florentine heritage and the pieces are so versatile that a woman would reach for them every day.”RADA SAHNEY

Talent Show: Carolina Bucci

18K gold gemstone and diamond pavé initial rings

18K gold gemstone and diamond pavé initial rings

ZOË CHICCO

In describing her work, Los Angeles-based Zoë Chicco, a trained goldsmith, says she looks for inspiration in her friends: Dynamic and fashionforward women who know how to mix styles, colors and textures together to create a unique statement. Chicco’s look is delicate, sexy and feminine, yet distinctively edgy. Her latest designs, with their playful shapes and tiny sparkling diamonds, have created a cult following among celebrities and trendsetters. Her pieces have been featured on the hit TV shows Glee, Parenthood, Happy Endings and CSI, and star clients include Cameron Diaz, Demi Moore, Penelope Cruz, and Rachel Bilson, among others.

SURVEY SAYS
“One of my favorite contemporary fine jewelry designers today. There is something for everyone. Often, a store has hesitations bringing in trendier lines for fear that the minute you bring it in, the trend is over. That would not be the case with Zoë’s collection, which is filled with designs that can layer and work together and also mix with other pieces you may already own.”RADA SAHNEY




“I carry this line in my store and it always sells out! The designs are simple, clean, beautiful, on trend and affordable. Zoë is always designing new pieces, so the line never feels tired or boring. It’s so important to have this price range available in my store because it isn’t intimidating and brings clients in for gifts and guilt-free shopping!”JAIMIE GELLER




“Zoë Chicco is very on trend. I like her clean, contemporary aesthetic; there is a growing audience for this style of jewelry. You see many important directions within the collection: rose gold, oxidized metals, charms worn around the neck — all items that can be personalized and put together in a manner that suits the wearer. The ability for a customer to imprint their own style or make an aesthetic contribution to what they’re buying is big today. I also like that the collection tends to have a little edge and attitude in terms of how personalized items like initial pendants are arranged in unexpected ways.”MATTHEW ROSENHEIM

Talent Show: Zoë Chicco

Sterling silver with 14K gold and pavé diamond cuff

Sterling silver with 14K gold and pavé diamond cuff

ALEXANDRA MOR

It is not surprising that jewelry designer Alexandra Mor was born into a family of French fashion couturiers. (In fact, as a child, everything young Mor wore was one-of-a-kind clothing made by her mother, right down to the fabric, cut and texture.) Mor has developed her own aesthetic expression and style within the rarified world of haute couture jewelry, where every piece is an individually tailored, handcrafted work of art. Her signature and one-of-a-kind collections are distinguished by her unmistakable details: Simplicity and perfected symmetry centered around striking diamonds and gemstones. Her affinity and understanding of the inherent intimacy of jewelry is much of what makes each of her pieces so uniquely compelling.

SURVEY SAYS
“Alexandra’s pieces are simple, beautiful and exquisite. While it is understandable that most of the price points are expensive due to the materials, thoughtfulness and workmanship, I would like to see a price point that doesn’t limit the customer or only play to an extremely exclusive audience. It would be wonderful to reach a still sophisticated clientele but with some entry level pieces they can start to collect.”JANICE BLUMBERG




“Alexandra Mor brings back memories of a young Henry Dunay. It is amazing that such a young woman has the eye for quality and workmanship that produce her magnificent limited editions. They are masterpieces that reflect the elegance and quality of fine jewelry. When we speak of lasting value and handing down from generation to generation, it is work like Alexandra’s that we refer to. It’s what the world of couture jewelry is all about.”MARIE HELENE MORROW




“When you first see Alexandra Mor pieces, you can feel the emotion and a certain confidence that makes you want to dig deeper. Mor has taken some of her best designs and eliminated the excessive bells and whistles that seem to attract a lot of buyers in her native France. This strong sense of editing is the design ethos that makes Alexandra Mor stand out. I think there is a real ability to apply these design principles into different scales and price points that could diversify this collection and broaden out the potential client base while remaining true to its design aesthetic.”MATTHEW ROSENHEIM

Talent Show: Alexandra Mor

18K gold, sapphire slice and diamond earrings

18K gold, sapphire slice and diamond earrings

MARY ESSES

Brazilian-born designer Mary Esses has been enamored of the arts since childhood. Her first creative foray after embracing both ceramics and painting in college was to run her own arts and crafts school in Brazil. There, a former H. Stern executive spotted her talent and encouraged her to translate it into jewelry design. She moved to New York and launched Mary Esses Jewelry in 2004. Each handcrafted piece has its own character and identity, inspired by the gems and influences that define Esses’ style, from her vibrant Brazilian roots to the urban landscape she now calls home. The line melds old-world romantic looks with sleek, modern details.

SURVEY SAYS
“Color! Color! Color! Mary is delightful and is so passionate about what she does, and it comes across in her designs. And, women love the versatility of being able to create different looks with the earring charms that have become a big part of her collection.”JANICE BLUMBERG




“Mary is one of the most versatile designers I know. She captures the spirit of her native Brazil and mixes it with the energy of New York City where she lives. Her sense of color is infectious as she experiments with one pattern or another. Her eye for stones is key in selecting the best colors to project the exuberance of her style. I am always impressed by her commitment to her craft and desire to search new paths and techniques to develop her brand.”MARIE HELENE MORROW




“Mary Esses has developed collections that really have some distinctive elements to them, from the open airy nature of the Cage collection to the Knot collection built around a very distinctive folded gold knot element. There is also a certain ‘joie de vivre’ in Mary’s line consistent with her Brazilian roots. I would love to see more of that in her designs as they move forward.”MATTHEW ROSENHEIM

Talent Show: Mary Esses

18K gold and ruby bead bracelet

18K gold and ruby bead bracelet

<tdalign="left" bgcolor="#FFFFFF">JANICE BLUMBERGBe On Park, Winter Park, FL“We enjoy working with our independent designers because we find we can develop a more one-on-one relationship. They get just as involved in a project as we do, and this also helps our clients to be even more excited. We love to display unique pieces all around the store so there is always an unexpected feeling or surprise when you look into a case. Relationships with the designers and clients are built on trust and nurturing and time, and we give it all of that and more. In addition, we purchase what we love and what we would wear.” MARIE HELENE MORROW Reinhold Jewelers, Puerto Rico“Independent designers, at least the ones that we carry, have what I call ‘jewelry with soul.’ This is why the translation of our artists’ language is so important. Each designer we represent has her or his own message. We are the facilitators. Being responsible for passing on someone’s dream is crucial. It is not always easy, but we never stop trying. It’s not about the sale; it’s so much more. It’s in our DNA.”RADA SAHNEY Zaver & Mor, Berkeley, CA“Part of the joy of being an independent store is having the opportunity to support other small and emerging artists. But it goes beyond the idea of ‘shop local and buy local.’ There is tremendous talent out there, and we are lucky that most of it is right in our own backyard. These artists are designing and making amazing jewelry and that’s what we all want — to wear something that is beautiful and makes us feel special.” MATTHEW ROSENHEIM Tiny Jewel Box, Washington, DC “We were one of the first retailers in the country to bring in Alex Sepkus, John Hardy, Marco Bicego, Penny Preville and Stephen Webster, all of whom have now obviously developed way beyond ‘emerging’ status. Part of what continues to make the store interesting is that balance between established brands where we’ve built a following and collections that people have never seen or heard of. The emerging designer or new collection is what will continue to make a store fresh and position you as a market leader and trend setter.” JAIMIE GELLER Jaimie Geller, Pacific Palisades, CA “When I bring a new designer into my store, I am bringing in an energy that has to mix, on every level, with what is currently in my cases. Some designers have a lower price level, others high, some modern and edgy, others whimsical. I make sure not to overlap on any level of price or style, but they still have to blend together aesthetically so as not to create a museum-like atmosphere. I love introducing new designers, and mostly I try to bring new and different ones in because I do have a small customer base and it’s so important to keep them on their toes. It’s a tricky process and there is something to be learned every day.

 

THE JUDGES
Our expert retailers talk about their affinity for new talent and why they bring emerging designers into their stores

JANICE BLUMBERG

Be On Park, Winter Park, FL

“We enjoy working with our independent designers because we find we can develop a more one-on-one relationship. They get just as involved in a project as we do, and this also helps our clients to be even more excited. We love to display unique pieces all around the store so there is always an unexpected feeling or surprise when you look into a case. Relationships with the designers and clients are built on trust and nurturing and time, and we give it all of that and more. In addition, we purchase what we love and what we would wear.”


MARIE HELENE MORROW
Reinhold Jewelers, Puerto Rico

“Independent designers, at least the ones that we carry, have what I call ‘jewelry with soul.’ This is why the translation of our artists’ language is so important. Each designer we represent has her or his own message. We are the facilitators. Being responsible for passing on someone’s dream is crucial. It is not always easy, but we never stop trying. It’s not about the sale; it’s so much more. It’s in our DNA.”


RADA SAHNEY
Zaver & Mor, Berkeley, CA

“Part of the joy of being an independent store is having the opportunity to support other small and emerging artists. But it goes beyond the idea of ‘shop local and buy local.’ There is tremendous talent out there, and we are lucky that most of it is right in our own backyard. These artists are designing and making amazing jewelry and that’s what we all want — to wear something that is beautiful and makes us feel special.”


MATTHEW ROSENHEIM
Tiny Jewel Box, Washington, DC

“We were one of the first retailers in the country to bring in Alex Sepkus, John Hardy, Marco Bicego, Penny Preville and Stephen Webster, all of whom have now obviously developed way beyond ‘emerging’ status. Part of what continues to make the store interesting is that balance between established brands where we’ve built a following and collections that people have never seen or heard of. The emerging designer or new collection is what will continue to make a store fresh and position you as a market leader and trend setter.”


JAIMIE GELLER
Jaimie Geller, Pacific Palisades, CA

“When I bring a new designer into my store, I am bringing in an energy that has to mix, on every level, with what is currently in my cases. Some designers have a lower price level, others high, some modern and edgy, others whimsical. I make sure not to overlap on any level of price or style, but they still have to blend together aesthetically so as not to create a museum-like atmosphere. I love introducing new designers, and mostly I try to bring new and different ones in because I do have a small customer base and it’s so important to keep them on their toes. It’s a tricky process and there is something to be learned every day.