Italians show creativity in the face of caution

Global economic fears and uncertainty tempered the mood at the VicenzaOro fair, keeping many American buyers away and creating a marked sense of caution in new designs.

While Italian suppliers reported seeing fewer American buyers, they remained upbeat about the year ahead, thanks in part to new collections that were creative, yet acutely sensitive to the need conservative price points.

Some companies, like Alfieri & St. John, captured the mood of the moment by re-creating past collections in a smaller scale, while others were more sparing in such elements as diamond pave, which had been used in near excess for several years.

In spite of the more somber mood of 2002, Italian designers, perennial global leaders in new fashion trends, showed their creative skill in creating fresh designs within the season’s narrowed economic parameters.

Among the top design trends to emerge were a marked use of negative space-from cutouts placed on the shanks of rings or into large cuffs, to large, open heart-shaped pendants.

Geometry is the study of choice, meanwhile, with traditional triangles, circles and rectangles in unusual patterns for a random effect.

In perhaps another nod to practicality-with consumers no longer interested in spending for separate white and yellow jewelry wardrobes-two-tone was the favorite color. Along with the traditional mix of white and yellow metals, the Italian designers spiced things up with some softer white and pink gold designs, or integrated color, mixing white gold and diamonds with the warmer hues of yellow gold and like-minded stones like citrine.