Crossovers and Bypasses: Popular, If Unusual, Descriptive Terminology for Jewelry Styles

Coming up with evocative descriptive terms can be a challenge for a designer or retailer of jewelry. When I saw the article in the May 2011 issue of InStyle featuring “bypass jewelry,” I was surprised. I thought “bypass” was a term associated with alternate routes and medical procedures, not fine jewelry.

Looking at the article in InStyle, however, the description makes perfect sense. The two ends of a piece of jewelry are designed to pass by each other rather than to meet. Marion Fasel writes:  “What is bypass? The term describes the bracelet and ring style in which the ends don’t close in a circle but cross over each other instead.” The article pictures bracelets from Kathy Rose for Roseark, Irene Neuwirth and Deanna Hamro, as well as rings from Chanel Fine Jewelry, Jennifer Meyer, and Anita Ko.

Speaking of ends that cross over, shortly thereafter, I saw an ad from Cora International featured in the June/July 2011 issue of Town & Country magazine for a “crossover heart ring” of yellow and white diamonds set in 18 karat white gold. Once again, the terminology struck me as fresh and a bit surprising. 

In the dictionary, the term “crossover” references bridges and the concept of combining styles of music to broaden their commercial appeal to a wider audience. Although the usage of the term “crossover” relative to jewelry does not appear in the dictionary I consulted, the description is apt for designs where one element visually crosses over another, as indeed Marion Fasel noted in her definition of “bypass.”

So I did a bit of research on the great leveler – eBay – to see to what extent these terms are being used. For “crossover” I found almost 900 jewelry listings, including over 100 designer offerings, described as crossover designs, the vast majority of which are from David Yurman. Other crossover descriptions name designers John Hardy, Judith Ripka and Charriol.

For “bypass,” there are over 1800 jewelry listings on eBay, over 500 in fine jewelry but only 35 identified as designer pieces. David Yurman and costume jewelry designer Kenneth J Lane were tied with seven listings each, with a smattering of bypass designs from such designers as Cartier and Bulgari.

Seeing that both terms have been used to describe David Yurman jewelry, I visited the designer’s web site and found that it uses the term “crossover cuff” but not the term “bypass.”  Kathy Rose for Roseark calls  designs similar to the one that appeared in InStyle “double tail cuffs.”  Chanel calls its ring pictured above the Comete ring. I was unable to obtain descriptive names of the specific designs pictured above from publicly accessible web sites for the other designers.

Here’s actress Emma Stone wearing a different bracelet along with earrings from Irene Neuwirth with a Marni leather dress in the March 2011 issue of Vogue. The Neuwirth web site describes this bracelet using neither term “bypass” nor “crossover” but merely describes the  bracelet as a “medium round hinge bracelet”; a retail site that sells the bracelet calls it an “overlapping hinge cuff.”

Whatever you choose to call it, the design has a long history. As Marion Fasel writes in InStyle, “Slide on one of these serpentine bypass pieces and you’ll understand why the style has been around since Cleopatra charmed Mark Antony in those snake bracelets. The design’s coiling contours ensure a perfect fit and total sex appeal.”

Bypass – crossover – double tail – overlapping – coils —  there is a myriad of interchangeable descriptive terminology out there to designate the style of these lovely, perennially popular and flattering designs. Whether you’re selling or buying, have your thesaurus at the ready!