The popularity of oxidized fine fashion jewelry is starting to spill over into bridal cases, now that a few manufacturers have debuted styles with blackened accents. Take Frederic Sage, the Great Neck, N.Y.–based firm, which began testing three blackened styles last year.
“We haven’t pushed oxidized styles, but some customers fall in love with them,” says senior vice president Brian Sage, adding that people are drawn to oxidized metals for the way they give black diamonds an even darker edge, or make colorless rocks stand out.
Los Angeles–based designer Nancy Newberg has noticed that her line, which includes numerous pieces featuring oxidized surfaces, appeals to customers who like stacking rings. “I sell quite a few oxidized rings to flank existing bands and update traditional sets—especially if a client already has a platinum or a yellow gold ring, the oxidized piece gives the look freshness.”
Venetian Lace band in 14k gold with oxidized accents and 0.34 ct. t.w. diamonds; $2,100; Dora, Pine Brook, N.J.; 973-244-1344; dorainternational.com
At the 2012 JCK Las Vegas show, Danhov showed one of its most popular semi-mount styles, Abbraccio Swirl, in oxidized gold, instantly transforming a traditional style into a fashion-forward one.
Wedding band maker Dora, headquartered in Pine Brook, N.J., has been offering oxidized styles since 2009. Frank La Roux, president of the U.S. division, says demand for the darker designs has a natural peak-and-valley cycle. “Sales of oxidized looks can be seasonal—better in some years than others—and sometimes better in different regions of the country,” he says. For example, the firm’s high-fashion oxidized look, called Venetian Lace, sells more in metropolitan areas and on the West Coast.
18k white gold ring with black rhodium finish and 0.05 ct. t.w. diamonds; $695; Caleo Jewelry, Brooklyn, N.Y.; 718-965-9125; caleojewelry.com
One indication that oxidized styles are poised for greater visibility is that retailers now are promoting them. For example, Frank M. Beltrame Jr., owner of Frank Michael Jewelers in Chicago, recently posted images of oxidized and white 18k gold mountings with black and colorless diamonds on his store’s Facebook fan page. “Nothing is flying off the shelves now, but we are starting to see it gain popularity,” he says.
Beltrame brought his first oxidized bridal SKU into the store this past fall; since then, he’s sold just one from stock. Still, he is optimistic. “Women want a ring that’s different,” Beltrame says. Of the 250 bridal SKUs currently in stock at Frank Michael, about six are oxidized.
While few clients are coming in and asking for them outright, once they see them, their reactions are extreme. “It’s a 50/50 split on whether they like it or hate it,” he says. “It’s either ‘Wow!’ or ‘Ew!’?”