I’ve heard it countless times from retailers all over the country: “I saw [insert jewelry designer name here] at a show years ago and have been watching the line develop.”
If fledgling designers had a dime for every time a store owner said this, they might not have trouble paying their bills. But as everyone knows, good intentions and future promises to buy don’t mean as much as cash when it comes to paying the rent.
While it’s hard to gauge just how much awesome talent and sales retailers miss out on by not stocking some lines sooner, here’s a short list of five designers whose ships have already sailed. Retailers, you can’t have these lines in your store! (Well, you might be able to have one.) But you can enjoy views of the works here, and perhaps reconsider your voyeuristic tendencies—“I’ll just watch it for a while”—moving forward.
Deborah Pagani. She’s now exclusive to Barneys New York and Ikram in Chicago, but jewelers had an opportunity to carry Deborah Pagani‘s work when she debuted in 2006. She showed at Couture, when the Design Atelier was still in the main hallway leading to the ballrooms and facing the back patio. I vividly remember one of her first jaw-dropping styles: a massive dragon bracelet in gold with gemstones that took the idea of cool to epic heights—the animated-looking serpent was three-dimensional, wild-eyed, and insanely sexy. Pagani is still turning out these special pieces, but only two merchants were savvy enough to put a ring on that relationship.
Earrings by Deborah Pagani
Matthew Trent. Every couple of years I call the Matthew Trent office in Dallas to see if they’ve decided to start wholesaling to stores so I can share their works with JCK readers. As of today, Trent is accepting a limited number of retail partners—so hurry to secure your spot before the firm changes its mind! Trent does bridal so beautifully, with classic silhouettes bearing subtle contemporary flourishes: scalloped frames encircling prong-set center stones; fine, beaded lattice-work–like baskets that recall trellises; platinum Asscher-studded bands with negative space; and hand-engraved, thick pebbly-surfaced wedding bands—sort of bridal signet rings. Who does this stuff? Matthew Trent, so take note and don’t “watch and wait” on this one.
Rings by Matthew Trent
Solange Azagury-Partridge. Wow. Just wow. Crimson-colored walls and oversize rainbow-hued braided rugs punctuate the psychedelic effect of Solange Azagury-Partridge’s boutiques in Beverly Hills, New York City, London, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Her signature style is sort of like the shops’ aesthetic: funky. Think fringe, oxidized zodiac motifs, cursive words, a “bleeding” heart—shaped like the actual organ—and lots of lips. Azagury-Partridge is a former creative director for Boucheron, and though some of her work can be found on Net-A-Porter.com, most of it is sold in her own stores.
Ruby-studded Lips ring by Solange Azagury-Partridge
Sharon Khazzam. Khazzam started her career as a jeweler and designer for Asprey, debuting her Sharon Khazzam collection in 2001 at Barneys where you’ll her work today. Her pieces are all one-of-a-kinds, and display such a harmonious balance of mixed shapes, colors, and cuts of gemstones that it’s remarkable to consider how such a variety of seemingly disparate forms and hues all come together and work! Khazzam’s aesthetic is a marvel; her creation of such simple but spectacular works of art is like witnessing an artistic genius among us.
Gemstone bracelet by Sharon Khazzam
Tamsen Z. I’ve never met Ann Ziff, the founder of Tamsen Z, with a lone eponymous outlet in Manhattan; but if I did, I think I might have to give her a hug for sharing her styles with the world. She’s clearly a colored stone lover—every one of her creations incorporates electrifying shades that almost glow. Ziff officially became a gemstone junkie in 2004 during her first visit to the Tucson gem shows, then opened her Tamsen Z boutique (the only place where you can buy her work) in 2010. If you want to see color done right—even the burly security guard at the door told me to brace myself for the magnificence within—make the trip to Madison Avenue and 66th Street.
Gemstone bracelet by Tamsen Z