First Look: Erin DeLuca

With its delicate, cobwebby texture and intricate, interconnected floral patterns, lace is a popular inspiration point among jewelry designers who favor a vintage-inspired, romantic aesthetic. So it takes a true modernist—and a certain amount of youthful ingenuity—to strip the frillier aspects of lace down to spare, simple executions that are as far from Miss Havisham as you can get.

This is designer Erin DeLuca’s approach in a nutshell, and anyone who had a chance to take in her recent JA New York Show debut, headlined by a collection called Virginia Lace, would have to agree. Pierced elements, minimalist silhouettes, and soft matte finishes distinguish the line, which is named for the designer’s grandmother. Although there’s nothing mumsy about this jewelry, even in the case of the Virginia Classic necklace, which clearly takes its cue from an actual lace collar but somehow manages to feel understated, more quietly elegant and sleek—not at all overwrought.

Virginia Grand necklace in sterling silver

“The Virginia Classic is the original design that started the collection and is based on an abstract butterfly-shaped piece of lace that I found an image of and kept going back to,” says DeLuca, who studied jewelry design in Florence, Italy, and at the prestigious North Bennet Street School in Boston. “But I’ve always loved to add pierced elements to my jewelry. I find it to be sort of meditative to just sit at the bench focusing on the patterns. So in a way, the ‘lace’ concept is overarching, a good way to describe the end result of my technique.”

Ginger Lace earrings in sterling silver (left); Mary Lace earrings in sterling silver

As part of her JANY entrée, DeLuca expanded Virginia Lace into a series of subcollections, including Ginger and Mary (above), which stem from the wings of the original butterfly swatch concept.

Later, DeLuca arrived at the guitar pick shape that defines her Shield designs (below) by whittling down Ginger’s essential components.

Shield Bypass ring in 18k gold

On the whole, the collection is a valentine to metalsmithing, but a few gemstones are woven into the lace motifs in tasteful moderation. ”It’s fun to be able to design a unique lace pattern for each stone or shape,” says DeLuca. “My favorites have been rubies, sapphires, and rose-cut pear-shape diamonds [below], but my all-time favorite stones are spinels, so I hope to design with them in the future.”

Virginia Pear Solitaire in 18k gold with a 1.04 ct. rose-cut diamond 

Informed by an imaginative spirit, with an attractive price point and everyday wearability to boot, DeLuca’s pieces could be a strong addition to any holiday assortment.

“I especially love looking at roots of trees and reflections and ripples in the water for inspiration,” says the designer, who lives and works in Connecticut, where the tiny state’s diverse landscape—forests, farmland, lakes, and a picturesque expanse of Long Island Sound—play a big role in the designer’s creative process. Certainly she has plenty of raw talent for the right retailer to help evolve, perhaps for the development of a store-exclusive capsule. A bridal line is currently in the works as well.

Prices from $70 to $6,000.

See a bit more of DeLuca’s latest and greatest below.

Assorted Mary necklaces in sterling silver, 18k gold, and oxidized sterling silver

Jacqueline hoops in 18k gold

Assorted Shield bangles in sterling silver, 18k gold, and oxidized sterling silver

(Photo at top: 5 Part Crest necklace in 18k gold)

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Amy Elliott

JCK Contributing Editor

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