Fashion Facets

Celebrity Roundup

Every March, while the world waits to find out who will win the Oscars, our industry wonders which celebrity will wear whose jewelry. This year, an estimated $100 million worth of diamond jewelry sparkled at the 72nd annual Academy Awards, not to mention the pearls, gold, and gemstones also on display that night. Top lending jewelers in Beverly Hills and environs included Harry Winston, Martin Katz, David Orgell, Asprey & Garrard, and Fred Leighton. Other jewelers whose pieces were on display included Simon Rudlé of New York, whose ?Bundles of Grapes? diamond earrings adorned Denzel Washington?s wife, Pauletta; Van Cleef & Arpels, who dressed Patty Fox, the E! fashion expert; and diamond dealer Lazare Kaplan, whose stones were the focal point of a special evening gown designed by Pamela Dennis.

Though big diamond necklaces are legendary on Oscar night, many actresses opted for sparkle around the wrist or on the hand. Another trend was colored diamonds, and daytime talk show diva Leeza Gibbons wore the Dennis dress, studded with 2,000 of Lazare Kaplan?s Ideal Cut diamonds on a flesh-colored background.

Here are just a few of the baubles borrowed for Oscar night: Cameron Diaz wore three vintage diamond bracelets and a cognac diamond ring, Heather Graham wore a diamond bib choker, and Minnie Driver wore diamond earrings and a bracelet, all from Fred Leighton. Michael Clarke Duncan wore diamond cufflinks, and Richard Farnsworth carried an antique gilt cane from David Orgell. Sofia Coppola selected diamond drop earrings, and Faith Hill wore a diamond bracelet and ring, all by Harry Winston. Kim Delaney wore Martin Katz?s platinum and diamond earrings and a diamond watch, and Ashley Judd wore his blue and pink diamond earrings and a yellow diamond ring. Dame Judi Dench wore diamond earrings, and Angelina Jolie wore diamond bracelet and earrings, all by Asprey & Garrard. Salma Hayek wore a fancy intense oval pink diamond ring and pink and white diamond earrings, and Queen Latifah wore diamond necklace and hoop earrings, all by Harry Winston.

Haley Joel Osment wore 18k yellow gold cross-stitch cufflinks and studs with mother of pearl, from Asprey & Garrard, and Charlize Theron wore two art deco diamond brooches and diamond hoop earrings by Fred Leighton.

Separately, at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in March, Julianne Moore and Michael Clarke Duncan both borrowed diamond jewelry from Asprey & Garrard, and model Naomi Campbell, making a special appearance in Australia, wore a diamond necklace with a 25-ct. pear center designed by Sydney designer Stefano Canturi, using diamonds from dealers Rosy Blue. Jewelry e-tailer Miadora.com lent diamond earrings and a bracelet to Salma Hayek, a presenter at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences? Scientific and Technical Awards night, held March 4 in Beverly Hills.

New Talent

Ellie Thompson, principal of her own Chicago-based design firm, has received the American Jewelry Design Council?s New Talent Award.

The AJDC New Talent Competition was organized to recognize and promote jewelry of original design as works of art. Thompson?s jewelry conveys a playful, yet sleek design sense, chosen by the AJDC selection committee as the most cutting-edge of contemporary American jewelry design. ?It is just right for today?s jewelry market,? said Alan Revere, chairman of the committee, which selects one designer per year for the award. Selection is based on originality, design, craftsmanship, and marketability. Thompson?s career has included positions as a gemologist as well as an appraiser and auction consultant. After becoming a Graduate Gemologist in 1989, she began designing small collections for selected retail jewelers. Her most recent effort, and her first in platinum, the City Rhythms Collection, has garnered five design competition awards.

Blame It on Rio

A group of Brazilian jewelry designers made their United States debut at the JCK Orlando Show with designs ranging from sleek and minimalist to lush and exotic. There were also new interpretations of standard classics. The designers were shown under the umbrella of Braspar, the Brazilian trade sales and marketing organization, which handles all sales and export transactions. To learn more about any of the designs shown here, contact Carlos A. Bere, G.G., Director, Braspar Brazilian Trade, Rua Teixeira da Silva, 433, 04002-031 Sao Paulo S.P., Brazil; (55-11) 3266-3886, mobile (55-11) 9993-6029, fax (55-11) 285-0359, e-mail: cabere@uol.com.br.

That?s Some Bedtime Story!

Montblanc, the fine pen company, has started making women?s jewelry. The Artisan Fairy Tale Collection, comprising ?True Princess? and ?Magic Beauty,? honors two of Hans Christian Andersen?s fairy tales, The Princess and the Pea and The Ugly Duckling.

Each line of the collection includes a ring, earrings, pendant, and a Montblanc Meisterstück 144 fountain pen, a Meisterstück ballpoint pen, two Meisterstück quartz watches (one medium, one large), and an 18k gold tie clip.

In the True Princess line, the fairy tale pea is symbolized by a peridot emerging from a golden cushion. In the Magic Beauty line, the mythical swan?s beak?in 18k gold?breaks through craquelée lacquer in the pens and watch; in the women?s jewelry, a diamond beak breaks through. Artisan Fairy Tale pieces retail from $275 to $1,800 and are available exclusively at Montblanc boutiques.

Separately, Montblanc also has announced the mother of all gift-with-purchase promotions. In honor of the 75th anniversary of the Meisterstück pen, famed erotic photographer Helmut Newton has created four of his signature black-and-white photos in a series called ?I Love You,? to express the ?75 Years of Passion and Soul? theme of the pen?s anniversary.

Montblanc is not shy about its new venture. The photographs are reminiscent of a Japanese tale about ?the pillow book,? in which a courtesan writes erotic poetry on the body of her lover. In one photograph, a woman is captured writing ?I love you? with a Meisterstück fountain pen on another woman?s body, while a series of behind-the-scenes snapshots taken during the photo shoot show the photographer himself writing on the model?s naked body. During an appearance on television?s CNN, Montblanc CEO Norbert A. Platt described the collaboration as ?big, black, and erotic.?

Want to own an original Helmut Newton photograph? No problem. Just purchase one of the limited-edition 75th anniversary Meisterstück chronograph watches before the series of 75 is sold out. The watch has an iridescent face of rose gold with diamond hour markers. Each watch (fewer than 20 will be available in the United States) will be accompanied by one signed and numbered print of one of the four ?I Love You? photographs, plus one Special Anniversary Edition Meisterstück 149 Pen engraved with Helmut Newton?s signature and numbered 1 through 75.

For more information, contact Montblanc, 35 E. 21st St., New York, NY 10010; (800) 388-4810 or (212) 529-3400.

Jeannette Fossas: A Perfectionist

Puerto Rican jeweler Jeannette Fossas is the first to admit she tends to drive herself to extremes in the pursuit of perfection. A self-confessed ?total Type-A personality,? Fossas felt that a master?s degree in fine arts from the Rhode Island School of Design wasn?t enough to qualify her to make jewelry, so she went back to school at the Gemological Institute of America and became a Graduate Gemologist. Next she traveled to Germany to study jewelry making at the Zeichenakademie in Hanau. Then, and only then, did she feel ready to call herself a jewelry designer.

Since 1980, Fossas has been designing one-of-a-kind pieces for an exclusive international clientele. In 1987, she was commissioned to make a necklace for Queen Sophia of Spain. Now she?s ready to launch her first production line, executed in 18k gold, platinum, diamonds, pearls, and precious gemstones. Her first exposure to the wholesale jewelry industry was as one of the new design talents in the International Jewelry Design Guild Pavilion at the 1999 summer JA New York show.

Years of architectural studies have given Fossas a reputation for one-of-a-kind, imaginative pieces that combine form with function and that are often complex puzzles of engineering. Though asymmetry and an unexpected focal point are signatures of her work, her pieces have an innate sense of balance. Her jewelry reflects a fascination with geometry and its play in space. Her sculptural approach to design is three-dimensional, and she works to make sure her pieces provide enjoyment from all perspectives.

?Nothing is meant to be hidden, and every aspect of a design has to be thought out,? she says. To illustrate, she holds up two table forks from a chic home store. One, a classic design, meets with her approval: ?Well balanced, both beautiful and functional.? The other, a premium-priced, avant-garde design, is rejected. ?The handle is off balance and the curve of the tines is too deep. You?ll scrape the roof of your mouth if you try to eat with it,? she says.

Not surprisingly, Fossas takes extreme pains to make sure the inside of a piece of jewelry is as carefully thought out and finished as the outside. She combines classical proportions with a modular approach to design, inspired by the metamorphosis found in nature. She carefully considers the weight, materials, and construction of each piece and isn?t afraid to take it apart and re-create it until she gets it just right.

?Okay, so I?m a little nuts,? she acknowledges. ?But if it?s not worth doing right, then I think it?s not worth doing at all.? Jeannette Fossas, 1085 Wilson Ave., San Juan, PR 00907; (787) 722-4154.

Russell Trusso: A Mind for Jewelry

Have you ever wondered how fashion can be such an utterly captivating and consuming topic for so many people? After all, it?s not like brain surgery. Or is it?

Ohio jewelry designer Russell Trusso has proved that one can be as committed to something as serious as medicine while still appreciating the beauty of personal adornment.

By day, Trusso was the department head of neuroanesthesiology at the Cleveland Clinic, but at night, he would go home and design clothes. In 1977, he launched his career as a couturier, right from his Cleveland apartment. His first ?show? featured four hand-painted silk caftans and two cocktail jackets. Every piece was sold, and he received orders for four more.

He then established his signature design with a collection of sweaters featuring hand-painted murals. Motivated by his loungewear success, the designer-doctor began experimenting with evening and wedding gown designs in 1979. High fashion boutiques such as the now-defunct Bonwit Teller and Martha of New York as well as popular stores like Henri Bendel and Lord & Taylor snapped up his designs. In 1995, at the opening gala of the Rock ?n? Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, 28 local socialites wore Trusso creations.

In 1990, Trusso retired his scalpel and took up the shears for good, opening a wholesale showroom in New York?s garment district and a retail shop and studio in Cleveland. He later closed the showroom, but he didn?t abandon his desire to create beautiful things. In fact, he was onto something new?jewelry design. He?d begun experimenting with jewelry as a way of creating pieces to go with his formalwear collections. Always the scientist, Trusso promptly began studying under a master goldsmith and exploring the properties of gold, pearls, diamonds, and gemstones. In 1997, he sold his first piece of fine jewelry to a woman who was a prominent Cleveland radio personality and a longtime couture client of his.

Today, Trusso continues to design clothes, but he feels that he makes his ultimate creative statements in jewelry. His designs are the result of several signature processes. One is a ?flooding? process, in which he blends silver with gold and oxidizes the materials. Another is a ?layering? process, in which he alternates enamel and oil paints to give flower petals a distinctive ?veining? effect. He?s also an avid supporter of design education and has donated the Russell Trusso Design Award to Kent State University?s Shannon Rodgers/Jerry Silverman School of Fashion Design and Merchandising.

Russell Trusso, 12812 Larchmere Blvd., Cleveland, OH 44120; (216) 229-7762.

Platinum for the Pope

Pope John Paul II recently was presented with a platinum rosary made by the Italian jewelry firm Balestra 1882. Named the Jubilee Rosary, it was the first of a limited-edition series of 2,000 platinum rosaries. The beads are finished with a special star diamond-cut technique to make them sparkle. The platinum rosaries come in a specially created laquered walnut box, for a price of $6,000. Contact Balestra 1882, tel. (39-0424) 555 111, fax (39-0424) 555 155, e-mail: balestra@balestra.it.

DESIGN DISCOVERY

Simon Rudlé: Jewelry in the Blood

Russian-born jeweler Simon Rudlé has jewelry in his blood. Rudlé?s grandfather and grandmother both worked in Fabergé?s shop, while his father, uncle, and mother were responsible for producing some of the finest jewelry and engravings that Russian nobility could afford. Simon himself began soldering and repairing jewelry at home at the age of 10, but his family was too busy to formally train him in the art of jewelry making. When World War II claimed the lives of both his uncle and his father, however, 13-year-old Simon had to learn a lot more about jewelry making to help support his family. Still considered too young to handle precious materials, he worked part time creating stamps and molds. A few years later, he used one of his own bas-relief carvings as an ?entrance examination? for art college.

In the mid-1970s, Rudlé left Russia for Italy, where he was promptly hired by the famous Italian luxury jeweler Bvlgari. But America beckoned. In 1977, armed with a letter of recommendation from Bvlgari but little knowledge of the English language, Rudlé set out to meet the cream of New York?s luxury jewelers. Although he couldn?t communicate well, his jewelry spoke volumes. Many of the American jewelers he met were astounded?not to mention highly skeptical?that one man could possess such complex skills. But he persevered and, in the tradition of many new immigrants, soon was working hard at two jobs, mornings as a model maker for David Webb and afternoons as a setter for Tiffany. The pace was hectic, and the work, though it required great technical skill, was an unsatisfactory outlet for Rudle?s creative impulse.

Rudlé took his portfolio and visited Van Cleef & Arpels. He showed just one of his designs to Claude Arpels and was hired on the spot. His tenure there was brief?only eight months?but in that time he produced a series of designs and completed the restoration of a complex diamond tiara that no other jeweler had wanted to touch.

At the end of 1978, barely a year after his arrival in the United States, Rudlé set up his own shop. He did contract work for other jewelers but made time to work on his own creations. Today, Rudlé has expanded his shop and brought his daughter Victoria into the business, continuing the family heritage of jewelry making. Simon Rudlé, 62 W. 47th St., New York, NY 10036; (212) 354-0733.

Bead-Dazzled

A partnership between the founder of a branded costume jewelry firm and a Woodstock, N.Y., artisan has resulted in Ladybeads Inc., a stylish collection of contemporary beaded necklaces and earrings combining antique glass and colored gemstone beads.

Les Shapiro, founder and former president of Les Bernard, New York, and Denise Adamany, studio artisan, are aiming their one-of-a-kind designs at top department stores, specialty stores, and fine jewelry stores, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, and Jacobson?s. The jewelry is composed of Italian coral; gemstones such as agate, citrine, amethyst, and peridot; freshwater pearls in a range of colors; and Venetian glass. The collection retails from $65 to $800.

Ladybeads Inc., 221 Maverick Rd., Woodstock, NY 12498; (914) 679-7250.

Feathered Jewelry from Italy

Italy?s Fabio Renato Cammarata may consider himself an artist and a designer, but his jewelry is extraordinary. He frequently combines precious materials with ordinary objects, such as silver with feathers or fake fur. His gold pieces often evoke the sensation of a ?living? object, in which pearls, rubies, diamonds, and other precious and nonprecious embellishments appear to be moving. Cammarata?s jewelry is becoming increasingly popular in Italy. In the United States, it is currently sold at Barneys New York.

Cammarata earned a bachelor?s degree in architecture from Palermo University in 1991 and a master?s degree in fashion at the Domus Academy in Milan. Early on, he focused mainly on the fashion world, collaborating with noted Italian apparel designer Gianfranco Ferrè and leather designer Diego Della Valle of J.P. Tod?s. But in 1994, Cammarata turned to precious metals and gemstones as a creative outlet.

Cammarata Gioielli, Via Statuto, 13, 20121 Milan, Italy. Phone and fax (39-2) 29003746.