When ZULTGEMS, an authorized distributor of zultanite, approached Daniel Gibbings in the spring of 2010 to make jewelry with their unique color-changing stone, the South African-born designer was happy to oblige.
“We decided that five pieces would make a nice presentation, and I submitted designs for their review,” he says.
Among the jewels he created were two rings, a pair of earrings, a bracelet, and a fantastic necklace. The inspiration for the designs comes from the stone’s Turkish heritage (it is only mined in one place, the Anatolia region of Turkey) “and the region’s rich history that embodies the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empire,” he adds.
To make the necklace, a massive beaded choker style with faceted drops and ruby accents in Gibbing’s signature 20k gold, he had a piece of zultanite rough cut into 504 cts. t.w. of randomly faceted beads with 22.51 cts. t.w. faceted drops. The beads were cut in India and the drops in Canada, and the entire piece took seven months to complete. “I wanted antique-looking bead cuts that would have an old world appearance,” he says.
The piece debuted to the trade at Couture 2011, where it attracted media and retailer attention, though the other four less expensive pieces (ranging from $18,670 to $97,250) garnered more interest, as “it’s not every day you can sell a $342,950 necklace,” says Setenay Ozdemyr, Gibbing’s creative development designer.
However, as the collection’s media tour is winding down (pieces adorned celebs on Dancing With The Stars and Cupcake Wars, as well as making personal appearances at some magazine editors’ offices), the items will travel to three specific stores for showings.
While Gibbings, who studied at art schools in both Israel and London, ordinarily works with sapphires and emeralds, he won’t rule out incorporating zultanite into future collections given that the stone lends itself to his signature aesthetic, which draws its inspiration from ancient cultures, archeological finds, and travels to exotic places.
“I would incorporate it on a limited basis, though I would like to see the stone get even more public awareness,” he says.
504 cts. t.w. randomly faceted zultanite beads, 22.51 cts. t.w. faceted zultanite stones, and rubies set in 20k gold; $342,950. Daniel Gibbings for Zultanite
Drops are not detachable.