The New Designer Gallery, hands down.
For the last few editions of JA New York, this curated section is the first stop on many attendees’ agenda because it brings the promise of fresh, underexposed talent—always a draw for journalists and also retailers who hope to discover a relative newcomer before they are well-known in the industry. (See previous New Designer Gallery exhibitors: David Yurman, Alex Šepkus, Penny Preville, K. Brunini, and, more recently, Alexis Kletjian and Holly Dyment.)
One that seems destined for similar prestige is Connecticut-based designer Linda Hoj, named the 2019 Mort Abelson New Designer of the Year, a staple headline of the JANY show since Abelson founded the New Designer Gallery in 1977. Hoj’s collection, replete with heraldic, Byzantine, Etruscan, and Greco-Roman mythological motifs, blends modern goldsmithing with ancient techniques. Daggers, crosses, arabesques, granulation, and intricate filigree are just a few of the themes she embraces. There’s even an iron maiden–inspired pair of chain earrings called Plunder.
Last year’s winner, Theresa Kaz, presented the award and reports that receiving this honor has had a dramatic impact on her growth as an artist and a business.
A handful of pieces from other New Designer Gallery exhibitors at this edition of the show displayed promise from a design/gemology perspective, including Original Eve’s truly gorgeous striped opal earrings, which are set in rose gold to emphasize the streak of salmon pink seen in the opal’s fire. Lovely storytelling details, too: The design is inspired by the Azores, a group of volcanic islands in Portugal that protrude from the ocean’s depths and capture vivid blue crater lakes at their peaks.
Other collections revealed a surprising—and thoughtful—consideration of price point and commercial viability. Designer Shari Cuartero of Olivia B. has been designing jewelry at the wholesale and private label level for much of her career, but recently struck out on her own. Her work is what a real estate broker might call turnkey—the pieces are elevated, yet accessible, assorted across all categories, and offered in a wide array of color stories that are begging to be cast as vignettes in a display case.
Here are a few more pieces that stood out to me.
Top: Jewelry designer Linda Hoj, winner of the prestigious Mort Abelson New Designer of the Year Award at the Spring 2019 edition of the JA New York show, specializes in handmade, one-of-a-kind 22k gold designs like these Andromeda earrings made with fire opals and multicolored sapphires.
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