Fashion Facets

Millennium Brides Choose Silver

With millennium celebrations and new bridal fashions calling for a white metal look, silver is becoming increasingly popular for this year?s bride. According to the Silver Information Center, brides are choosing sterling silver jewelry for both its classic look and its value, often selecting silver pieces for their bridesmaids as well as themselves.

Current bridal fashions run from simple sleeveless and back-baring dresses to fairy-tale-inspired gowns decked in silver trappings of beads or lace. All styles offer opportunities for silver jewelry accessories. The white metal works well with pearls and light-colored stones, both of which will always be popular choices for brides. Modern geometric styles can accessorize sheath-styled wedding dresses, while the more romantic gowns can be paired with delicate pieces, including marcasite or crystal. Also popular this year are silver tiaras, headbands, and ornaments for the hair such as barrettes and pins.

Silver?s value has not escaped today?s shrewd bride. It?s an affordable choice for lasting wedding-party gifts, with bracelets, necklaces, cufflinks, and rings available for attendants. The millennium year is enhancing the popularity of engraving.

Plus-Size Market Is Growing

According to a recent report in Women?s Wear Daily, the plus-size market is the fastest-growing segment of the women?s apparel business. Sales in the category are approximately $26 billion annually, and it accounts for slightly more than 27% of all women?s apparel sales. Some key findings from the report:

  • The plus-size market in the United States comprises more than 36 million women, or almost one-third of the female population. At least half of all American women wear a size 14 or larger, and six out of 10 wear a size 12 or larger.

  • The average 50-year-old American woman is eight pounds heavier than her mother was at age 50.

  • Plus-size women want and expect to be just as fashionable as their smaller counterparts.

  • A significant portion of the plus-size market consists of high earners, with household incomes in excess of $100,000 per year.

  • Even though plus-size women are often frustrated at the lack of adequate fashion selection, many shop more than once a week, buy at least one item of clothing every two weeks, and spend an average of $150 to $200 per outfit.

Jewelers can benefit from this market by stocking a selection of jewelry in larger sizes, such as rings above size 6, earrings with extra-long posts, or eight-inch bracelets. Many sales are made when the client puts on a piece of jewelry and begins to feel a sense of ownership, but it?s hard to do that when a ring doesn?t go over the knuckle or a bracelet won?t close. Having a piece of jewelry that fits without adjustment can be a very simple incentive. Remember also that in jewelry design, proportion is what counts. With the proper proportions, delicate designs can be very flattering to a large woman. Look at the customer carefully to see how she accessorizes her outfit, and then show jewelry that is in line with her taste. Not every large woman wants to wear large jewelry, just as not every petite woman wants to wear tiny jewelry.

IJDG Hosts Lunch for Fashion Editors

The International Jewelry Design Guild hosted a designer jewelry preview luncheon in April at the Beacon Restaurant in New York. The event kicked off a series of Design Guild events to be held throughout 2000. Jewelry designers Whitney Boin, Paul Lantuch, Robert Lee Morris, Diana Vincent, and Stephen Webster displayed their collections and met with members of the trade and consumer fashion press. Each designer had his or her own display area. All had an opportunity to discuss with editors their vision and philosophy behind their jewelry designs.

IJDG, founded in 1998, provides a structured forum for designers to participate in trade shows, charity and fund-raising events, community and academic projects, and design award presentations.

Ricardo Migel: A Jeweler Since Age 10

Jewelry designer Ricardo Migel, a third-generation jeweler, can boast of Spanish ancestors who were the goldsmiths for Catalonian royalty. His own career began when he was 10 years old, working in his father?s workshop in Uruguay, where his job was to set out the work for the 15 goldsmiths employed there. The shop?s clientele was aristocratic Latin Americans who came from all over South America to commission pieces for weddings, events, and gifts.

Migel?s future seemed assured, until politics intervened. The young jeweler had joined a group of his nationalistic friends in an opposition movement against a dictatorial government. When two of the group disappeared, Migel hurriedly fled his homeland and headed to New York to continue his career as a jewelry craftsman and designer. (He later learned that it was a prudent move; several more of his friends had disappeared without a trace.)

As many such individuals do, Migel established a foothold in the New York jewelry industry by doing bench work for others. Two of his employers were David Webb and Henry Dunay, whom he assisted for nine years. Among the pieces that came from Migel?s hands over the course of 20 years in the jewelry district were a diamond mask that Elizabeth Taylor wore for an AIDS fund-raiser and a full-sized gold replica of a Pinch Scotch bottle, which was created for a multiple sclerosis charity tour and made the Guinness Book of Records as the most expensive liquor bottle ever made.

His premier collections were launched last winter at the JA New York show. Migel believes in creating jewelry sets, mostly in 18k gold or platinum, highlighted with gemstones and sterling silver. Collections include Mi Amor, a heart-shaped series of bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and rings; the Millennium Collection, large designs that feature ?caviar beads? in chunky proportions; the Felicidad Collection of delicate, interlocking ovals with shiny and matte overlays entwined in a group of necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and rings; the Etruscan Collection of 18k gold and sterling silver in a bars and stripes motif; and the Sphere Collection, with circular pieces of fluted designs interlocking spheres with spheres.

Ricardo Migel, 42 W. 48th St., Suite 306, New York, NY 10036; (212) 575-7962.

Elyssa B Design: Get Bead-Dazzled

Elyssa Beth Silbert, designer and principal of Elyssa B Design, finds inspiration in the swirling energy of the California coastline. She interprets the warm, sensuous, and sunny atmosphere into a collection of intricately styled accessories.

Silbert was raised in New York?s Westchester County and in Beverly Hills, Calif. She was attracted to stones and glittering objects from childhood and as an adult turned that love into a career. Her first work, in 1996, was a collection of sterling silver and gemstone eyeglass chains that was picked up by Saks Fifth Avenue. In the subsequent four years, she has expanded her line to include one-of-a-kind pieces and a signature collection of necklaces made of 14k, 18k, and 22k gold with rubies, sapphires, tourmalines, emeralds, tanzanites, smoky topaz, citrine, South Seas and freshwater pearls, and more.

?Each stone I use plays an important role in the look and feel of a piece, so it?s critical to hand-select every one,? says the designer. She shies away from traditional cuts, preferring instead to work with polymorphous shapes and unusual textures. ?Weirdness attracts me,? she says. ?I like funkiness in stones, but I also see perfection in their natural beauty.?

New collections for fall 2000 include soft chokers, which are 32-in.-long narrow bands of hand-knit cashmere, adorned at the ends with six inches of precious and semiprecious stones. The chokers were inspired by the Belle Epoque portraits of Renoir and Vuillard.

Silbert?s work is available at specialty stores throughout the United States. Her pieces have been worn and collected by such celebrities and dignitaries as Carly Simon, Stevie Nicks, Liv Tyler, Sharon Stone, Kate Hudson, and Chelsea and Hillary Clinton.

Elyssa B. Design, 9061 Nemo St., Los Angeles, CA 90069; (310) 273-6860.

Talisman Unlimited: From TV to Jewelry

Talisman Unlimited was founded by Lisa Ruskin and Michael Pitkow in 1988. Both Ruskin and Pitkow have a communications background?she worked for NBC, he cofounded a theater company in Boston and was creative director of Music Promotions, an ad agency there. Ruskin, the design part of the team, left television to go into apparel marketing, first as national sales director for Freeway jeans and later for sportswear designers Gary Worth and David Dart and retailer Barneys New York.

During fashion market week in 1988, Ruskin bought some old silver charms and beads from an East Indian sidewalk vendor and designed a pin for herself. Retail buyers admired the pin and asked where and how soon they could order some. Nordstrom and Fred Segal of Beverly Hills made the first inquiries, and that year Talisman Unlimited was born. Six hundred one-of-a-kind pieces were sold. Eleven years and 34 collections later, Talisman?s designs are available in boutiques as well as jewelry and specialty stores across the United States and the Caribbean. Their work is inspired by the casbahs and souks of the Middle East, the Silk Route that winds through Asia, tribal and nomadic peoples, and the splendor of desert skies and ocean breezes. Their pieces feature keshi and Tahitian pearls, sapphire, pink tourmaline, aquamarine, chalcedony, tanzanite, ruby, and emerald. Talisman Unlimited, 19528 Ventura Blvd., #225, Tarzana, CA 91356; (818) 888-3708.

Bvlgari Reinterprets Its Own Classics

For summer and fall 2000, Bvlgari has redefined its classical aesthetic motifs. Its Spiga, Passo Doppio, Bvlgari-Bvlgari, XL, and B.zero1 collections have been re-created with pavé diamonds and white gold.

The new Spiga bracelet twists around the wrist in a winding spiral, with pavé diamond sections alternating with areas of polished white gold. The Parentesi collection is now totally set with diamond pavé in a geometric motif. The new look of Passo Doppio is pearls, diamond pavé, and white gold. The collection is designed to be convertible; for example, two necklaces can be combined to make one long one. The firm?s trademark design Bvlgari-Bvlgari is being presented in a white gold version with black onyx and pavé diamonds.

The new collections have been available since May at all Bvlgari stores and at a selected network of authorized Bvlgari dealers.