Pick of the Glitter: 3 Designers Whose Gold Jewelry Is Worth Every Penny



Whether the gold price goes up or comes down, demand for these designers’ jewels is destined to remain constant

Last year at this time, JCK published a story titled “How Jewelers Can Escape the Gilded Cage,” which discussed strategies to sell gold jewelry at a time when the price was nearing historic highs.

“Moral of the story: Gold prices have gone up in the past, and will go up again, but that doesn’t mean people will stop buying,” we wrote.

Well, wouldn’t you know it—the price did the very opposite of what we (and all the sources we consulted) predicted. It slipped at the start of 2013 and kept on slipping, coming to rest (for the moment) at around $1,250 per ounce.

Not that anyone is complaining! Lower gold prices allow designers to create more karat gold styles that retailers can buy for stock and consumers can buy for themselves. To get merchants thinking about the again-affordable metal, we’ve found three up-and-coming jewelry designers making gold jewels worth every last penny.

Holly Dyment Fine Jewelry

Holly Dyment of Toronto-based Holly Dyment Fine Jewelry is something of an expert in switching gears. She embarked on a career in fine jewelry design just five years ago. “When I turned 50, a change was needed and jewelry in India was it!” says Dyment, who previously worked as a graphic designer, interior designer, and painter.

She’d been studying photos of jewelry in magazines for years, tearing out pages and taping them to her refrigerator like a mom does with a child’s artwork.

(Clockwise from below) Raven ring in 18k gold ring with black enamel and diamond, $7,420, Stark Branch ring in grey enamel and brushed gold with diamonds, spinels, and ruby, $9,650, Thursday crowned skull ring in 18k gold with diamond eyes and yellow and blue sapphires, $9,260; Holly Dyment at MUSE, NYC; 212-463-7950; hollydyment.com
 

When she finally decided to make a go of it, her collection emerged with a distinct point of view that is now her signature. It’s “grimly glam, cheeky, precious and precocious, and broodingly bejeweled,” she says. “I play with themes of the macabre, but sweeten up the darker side with a signature style of vibrant colored enamel work on 18 karat gold, always adding at least a few diamonds to each design.” A black-and-white checkered border on most pieces “grounds them and gives a playful edge,” she notes.

Dyment’s favorite symbols include skulls, evil eyes, and birds. A set of Day of the Week rings is tied to specific stones and their ruling planets, while a black raven ring is inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”: “I love the macabre and the edge it brings,” she says.

Dyment works with a jeweler in India to bring her illustrations to life, visiting her manufacturer twice a year for three weeks at a time to brainstorm and play. All her pieces are made by hand and even the enamel work on just one piece can take up to three days to complete. “It is important for people to know that,” says Dyment. “The jewelry is all basically one of a kind.”

There’s no denying that the career switch has been good for Dyment. She won the Mort Abelson New Designer of the Year award at the 2013 Summer JA New York show and has landed a number of coveted accounts, including Reinhold Jewelers in Puerto Rico. 

Starting retail price: $3,560 in 18k gold
Place of manufacture: India
Accounts: Five in the United States, including ­Fivestory in New York City, in addition to Artwork Gallery in Toronto
Buy-in for retailers: $15,000
Trade fairs: Couture
Contact: Holly Dyment at Muse Imports, NYC; 212-463-7950; ­hollydyment.com

Trunfio Jewels

To readers familiar with reality television Down Under, the name Trunfio may ring a few bells. Nicole Trunfio, the designer of the eponymous collection, grew up in a working-class home in Merredin, Australia, a three-hour drive from the gold mines of Kalgoorlie. (Dad is a mechanic, mum is a hairdresser, and a brother worked on oil rigs and even dove for pearls.) In 2002, she won Australia’s Search for a Supermodel and her modeling career took off. But just because she was appearing in campaigns for the likes of Karl Lagerfeld and Dolce & Gabbana didn’t mean she had lost her drive to create.

Like her dad, Trunfio always loved to tinker and recalls being “the only the girl in metal and wood shop in school,” she says. “I come from a family of tradesmen who are obsessed with science and chemical reactions, so I love soldering, molding, and shaping things with my hands.”

From her base in New York City, Trunfio turned to making jewelry. She spent three years laboring over the design and functionality of a screw-on charm mechanism that now serves as her Universal lock; it is made in the shape of a pyramid, which is her signature motif, and appears in her bracelets, earrings, necklaces, and rings.

“I was going to watch and tool and die makers, old-school jewelry workers, and would Skype with them when I was traveling,” she says.

The pyramid is symbolic for more reasons than one. Not only is Trunfio obsessed with architecture and the works of French jeweler Pascal Morabito, there’s also the matter of her paternal devotion: “Dad wanted my big brother to become an architect and I wanted to please my dad,” she says. No wonder her jewelry boasts such clean, minimal lines.

The supermodel acknowledges, however, that looks aren’t everything. “The lock is not just a piece of ­jewelry, but a ritualistic thing that you do with the charm,” she says. “You put the charm onto the bracelet, and you don’t need a guy to lock it for you.”

Starting retail price: $1,430 in 14k gold
Place of manufacture: New York City
Accounts: None to date
Buy-in for retailers: None to date
Trade fairs: None to date
Contact: Trunfio Universe, NYC, 212-374-9274; trunfiojewels.com

AS29

Audrey Savransky debuted her AS29 line at the ­Couture show in Las Vegas last June—it was her first U.S. show—but don’t call her success beginner’s luck.

Savransky has lived in Hong Kong for 10 years, but hails from Antwerp, where four generations of family have worked in diamonds and jewelry manufacturing. Savransky founded her design firm in 2008 and, relying on her “genetic passion” for jewelry, perfected an aesthetic that’s equal parts modern, dramatic, and sexy (using diamonds sourced from her family, set under a microscope, for what she calls “a perfect final result”).

Ocean 3 Fingers ring in 18k white and black gold with 1.30 cts. t.w. black diamonds and 0.85 ct. t.w. colorless diamonds; $13,875; AS29, Hong Kong; 852-2530-0529; as29.com AS29 Reverse Arrow cuff in 18k white and black gold with 4 cts. t.w. black diamonds and 3.5 cts. t.w. colorless diamonds; $33,320

She renders her designs in diamond pavé-set 18k white, rose, and black gold. She has a religiouslike devotion to monochromatic black-and-white color schemes and favors motifs such as chevrons, feathers, and cushion and pear shapes.

It’s easy to see why buyers are so smitten. “I was absolutely in love with her jewelry!” says Juliette Schwab of Wetherly Fashion Group in New York City, after discovering the line—named for Savransky’s initials paired with her lucky number, 29—in Las Vegas.

Starting retail price: $1,000 in 18k gold
Place of manufacture: China
Accounts: Six in the United States, including Jaimie Geller in Pacific Palisades, Calif., and 50 abroad, including Harrods in London
Buy-in for retailers: 15 pieces
Trade fairs: Baselworld in Switzerland, Couture in Las Vegas, and Tranoi in Paris
Contact: AS29, Hong Kong; 852-2530-0529; as29.com