Last August, Ann Korman, the L.A.-based designer behind ARK Fine Jewelry, began working on a collection that sought to draw meaning from the challenges our society has collectively faced over the past two years—including the pandemic, the protests that erupted in the wake of the 2020 murder of George Floyd, and the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Awakenings, the 18k gold collection ARK debuted at the Couture show in Las Vegas last month, is the product of that effort—and a sunny one at that.
“It’s kind of an optimistic way of looking at the dark period we’ve gone through,” Korman tells JCK. “Through this hard, heavy period, the awakening is how we see how connected we are, and how we affect each other, and—it’s very hippie of me—how we have to come together as humankind to work together for the better.”
Korman used the visual metaphor of a sunrise (“Every day, we get a chance to reinvent and transform ourselves, and to have a new beginning,” she says) to communicate the notion of an awakening, incorporating hand-cut sapphires and plique-à-jour enamel in a range of graduated red, orange, and yellow hues to accomplish her goal.
The delicate and complex enamel work associated with plique-à-jour (French for “letting in daylight”) involves placing translucent or transparent enamel into cells outlined in gold, creating a mesmerizing play of light akin to stained glass. Korman first experimented with the technique in 2021, when she introduced her Dreamscapes collection.
“In 2022, we launched more plique because people seemed to be really responding to it,” she says.
In fact, the response was so strong—partly, Korman surmises, because enamel allows for a lower price point than using gemstones to achieve the same look—that she doubled down on the stained-glass inspiration and added a twist: “This year, we suspended the plique in front of a gold plate, so it doesn’t get too dark on your skin and the light can reflect back,” she says.
Korman incorporated the gold plate into some of the Awakenings collection’s standout designs, including the Om and Horizon necklaces—both of which feature special engravings on the back of the gold (the former features the Om symbol, to reinforce the idea that “everything in the universe is connected,” says Korman, while a sunrise mantra written in Sanskrit appears on the latter).
The collection’s opening price point is $990 for a pair of Plique Spark studs ($495 for a single), while the line tops out at $28,000 for the Sunrise ring, a bombé-style ring that features 7 carats of hand-cut sapphires in a graduated range of sunrise hues (mimicking the look of stained glass).
Korman’s sunny point of view seemed to resonate with influential buyers. She reports that Marissa Collections in Naples, Fla., and Twist in Portland, Ore., were among several stores that placed orders.
Top: Om necklace in 18k gold with plique-à-jour enamel, 0.28 ct. t.w. diamonds, and 1.92 cts. t.w. pink sapphires; $7,900Follow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
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