FashionFacets

Hair Jewelry For A New Generation

Toes, navels, and hair. The next generation has a few new ideas about fine jewelry, and they’re not limited to necks, wrists, and fingers.

The strong economy is encouraging people to accessorize and dabble in a little luxury. That means not only fur trim and crocodile bags but also precious materials for everything from shoe decorations to hair adornments. The hair category has enjoyed a growing market on the fashion accessories scene, as young consumers gobble up everything from butterflies to faux gem pins to dress up their tresses. And now the trend is following toe and navel rings from the teen and alternative scenes into mainstream and upscale culture.

The trend hit the runways several seasons back, as leading fashion designers used extravagant diamond and gem brooches as hair accessories. Today, jewelry designers are following suit, satisfying consumers’ taste for luxury with items designed for real life. Platinum and gold hair jewelry is on the rise, as seen in the lines of designers such as Jeff Pratt, Ron Rizzo, Laura Mady, and new names like Pennsylvania designer Jeanette Marie.

DIC Breathes New Life Into A Classic

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” quoth Shakespeare’s Juliet. But a tennis bracelet by another name-and with a new image-may become something else if the Diamond Information Center has its way.

The DIC is putting a new spin on the classic bracelet and backing it with a marketing campaign targeted at affluent women. No longer simply the piece named for a sport in which it was dropped on the court, the tennis bracelet is being dubbed the diamond line bracelet in print ads that will blanket consumer fashion magazines this year.

The program, launched during the Couture Collection and Conference in June, seeks to bring new life to the diamond bracelet category, according to DIC executive director Lynn Diamond. It’s aimed squarely at the upscale fine jewelry market.

In addition to the advertising campaign, which will begin in October, the DIC plans to link the diamond line bracelet to celebrity fashion. At the June launch, for example, actress, singer, and author Cybill Shepherd was adorned with diamonds for her performance at the couture show’s opening dinner. And Sarah Jessica Parker, star of television’s Sex & The City, will be seen this season wearing a diamond line bracelet.

DESIGN DISCOVERY

The Splendors of Paradise

The influence of lush green countryside, deep blue ocean expanses, and the bejeweled history of Sri Lanka are immediately evident in Dick Dumas’s fine jewelry designs.

The designer, an American with a lifetime of creative achievements behind him, retired eight years ago and made an unlikely choice-to live out his golden years not in South Florida or Arizona but in a new adventure on a small island off the coast of India.

With a background as a dress designer, interior decorator, and furniture designer, Dumas found a new channel for his creativity when he arrived at his new home in Galle, Sri Lanka, an area known as a jewelry capital. As he renovated his seaside house, Dumas took time out to visit local shops and watch jewelers at their craft.

“I became fascinated by the stones and bought them myself for their beauty,” he says. “As my collection grew, I felt I must do something to make them more beautiful, so I started to design jewelry.”

Dumas and his partner, Nikki Harrison, create jewelry that perfectly mixes the influences of Eastern exoticism and Western fashion. Using colored stones in unusual combinations, Dumas creates large yet light pieces. The artist, who describes himself as creative, uncompromising, and intuitive, finds inspiration in everything from childhood impressions to local scenery.

“I first remember being interested in fine jewelry when I saw my mother beautifully dressed for functions, looking so well put together and elegant,” he says.

Today, the artist surrounds himself with inspirations. He lives in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital city and a modern commercial port. He collects art, antiques, and furniture, and his apartment is decorated with his collections.

Though far removed from much of his potential client base, Dumas’s designs keep him close to his customer in spirit. The challenge is turning his ideas into pieces that are not only admired but also purchased.

“The ideal person for my jewelry is a woman of chic who is independent, successful, and with a strong sense of style,” he says. “A woman who is comfortable with who she is and not afraid to make a statement.”

Moissanite Moves to Designer Realm

Moissanite is trying to shed its image as a diamond “simulant” and establish itself in the designer end of the fine jewelry market.

Rio Grande, distributor of Charles & Colvard created moissanite, is sponsoring the first design competition focusing on the stone. Touting the gem as a new jewel to inspire the industry, Rio Grande is offering $30,000 in prizes.

Contestants are asked to submit renderings or photographic images featuring Charles & Colvard created moissanite as the predominant gem. The competition is open to members of the jewelry industry or students in a jewelry design training program. The deadline is October 16, 2000.

Winners of the First Annual Saul Bell Design Award-named in honor of Rio Grande’s founder-will be announced during the annual Contemporary Design Group gala during The JCK Show in Las Vegas next June.

For information on the competition, call (800) 396-9896, ext. 3247.

Soldier Honors Film and Fashion

Designer Alex Soldier may be building his American following, but he’s not forgetting his European roots. The Russian-American, Brooklyn-based jeweler and artist recently honored international fashion and films with two high-profile presentations.

In March, during Italy’s celebration of cinematographer Tonino Guerro, Soldier presented Guerro with a sculpture. Guerro, whose screenplays have been made into movies that have won several Oscars in the United States and “Palm branches” in Cannes, France, is known internationally not only as a writer but also as an artist and poet. Soldier’s gift was a flat 22-in. sculpture made in silver, sitting on an onyx pedestal, and decorated with blue topaz. Sixteen moving parts allow the figure to move, and each part has a unique hand finish. Guerro offered Soldier a joint venture creating a collection of decorative plates.

A month later, Soldier returned to his hometown of Perm, Russia, for the Fifth Russian Festival of Fashion. For the award, the designer created a statue to be presented for the Grand Prix. The design imitates a frozen piece of fabric following a woman’s silhouette, pierced with a tailor’s pin.

CDG Awards Promote Design

The Contemporary Design Group’s annual gala, held during The JCK Show in Las Vegas, once again put the spotlight on leaders in fine jewelry design. David Yurman, well known for his leadership in the branding and marketing of designer jewelry, was named to the group’s hall of fame, joining past recipients Henry Dunay, José Hess, Jay Lavin, and Bernd Munsteiner. Other awards presented at the gala were most valuable designer player, given to William Richey; best designer retailer, Silverscape Design in Amherst, Mass.; best designer advocate, JCK editor-in-chief Hedda Schupak; and best designer supplier, David Fell & Co.

Tacori Makes A Few (Million) New Friends

When 23.5 million viewers tuned in to watch two of Generation X’s beloved icons become engaged to be married, it was a shining moment for fine jewelry. Since 1994, twenty-somethings-increasingly becoming thirty-somethings-have watched and identified with the characters of the television series Friends. When two of the show’s main characters got engaged, therefore, there’s little doubt that the ring-a focal point of the event-drew attention from a group often thought to be dubious about fine jewelry.

The ring, part of the Serendipity Ladybug Collection by Tacori, Los Angeles, featured a 1-ct. princess-cut center diamond flanked by two sapphire trillions. The three stones are set in a romantic hand-engraved platinum ring.