It was 1989 when Paul Klecka, a jewelry designer then based in Chicago (now in Carlsbad, Calif.), first showed the world his Constellation collection. The signature look featured a single diamond seemingly floating on a sculpted piece of 18k gold or platinum jewelry. It was a hit, lauded by De Beers in its now-defunct Diamonds of Distinction awards, and eventually expanded to linear diamond styles with alternating shared prongs (like De Beers’ Journey styles).
Today, with the help of CAD technology, a diamond dealer, and a manufacturer, the newest version of Constellation, a trademarked collection name, will debut to the trade at JCK Las Vegas 2013. Klecka calls his technique “a self-supporting surface of diamonds” created by grid networks, seats underneath gems, and prongs shared by neighboring stones, in which the brilliance of each rock essentially eliminates the minimal negative space between them.
“My job as a designer is to maximize the visual impact of what I’m working with,” he says. “So, you’re seeing more than what’s really there.”
The variations of this interlocking system of grids, seats, and prongs are virtually endless, and all give the allusion of stones floating in frames. For a buyer, the brilliance of the diamonds set so closely together means that there’s less need for metal, so “Constellation is very cost effective,” says Klecka, who offers it in 18k gold, silver, palladium, and platinum.
The grid system for the next generation of the Constellation collection.
The line starts at just $290 retail for a ring with a 0.07 ct. t.w. diamond. Meanwhile, the pieces themselves are grown or printed from ceramic masters, which is “more precise than printing in wax or resin,” says Klecka. Afterwards, molds are made for reproduction. And while Klecka has not yet gone to milling or growing directly in metal, that is on the agenda should the market respond positively to the styles, which will debut at JCK Las Vegas 2013. “If this is successful, then we’ll go to the metal technology, which is even more precise,” he says.
Long a self-proclaimed “18k gold and platinum guy who used F color, VS melee,” Klecka says he had quite the reality check when querying retailers about this proposed update to Constellation. What he learned: “The retailer doesn’t necessarily care about metal type or diamond quality, just that pieces offer a good value-to-price ratio and look good.”
Klecka is collaborating with stone supplier Diamond Days in New York City and Jewel-Craft, a manufacturer in Erlanger, Ky. All the jewels are made in the United States. To date, round brilliant and princess-cut diamonds (and combinations of both) are available in styles, as are colored stones. See the new Constellation pieces in person at the Diamond Days booth in the Diamond Plaza section of the JCK Las Vegas show.
Trilogy ring has 1.38 cts. t.w. diamonds; $3,760 in silver, $6,600 in 18k gold, and $9,600 in platinum
Vortex ring with 1.95 cts. t.w.; $4,700 in silver, $8,600 in 18k gold, and $11,000 in platinum