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Jewelry Incorporating Textiles Part 1: Overview

This season, textile elements in jewelry have burst onto the scene at all price points, from high-end designs to hand-crafted friendship jewelry. The variety of materials and the creativity exhibited in their utilization are extraordinary.

Textile elements add color and texture to jewelry designs. They are generally also far less expensive than metal or stones—allowing designers to exhibit their creativity at lower price points (high-end designers notwithstanding), much appreciated by consumers.

I’ll focus on some of the specific textiles and techniques being incorporated into jewelry in upcoming posts. Here are some of the fashion editorials that give a picture of the range of options, in textiles and other more unusual materials:

The January 2013 issue of Real Simple exults the style revival of “friendship bracelets for grown-ups” constructed of materials including luxe crystals, gold, and leather, best worn layered. The 14 bracelets stacked in the photo represent a good sampling of the materials (including cord, thread, vinyl beads, and chenille) and artisan skills involved in creating the textile-inclusive jewelry of the season. The designers represented are Tous, Doloris Petunia, Ettika, Gamine, Antonia Bee, Links of London, Lia Sophia, Shoptiques.com, Kimberly McDonald, Rebekah Price, Bliss and Love Designs, Frieda & Nellie by Stacy Herzog and Sarah Reid, Sogoli, and Chan Luu.

The December 2012 issue of InStyle salutes metal-and-thread mash-ups, suggesting that readers try them stacked. Pictured are the following bracelets: gold plate and cotton by Jami; gold plate, rhodium plate, and silk from Bee Charming; brass, rhinestone, and silk from Alyssa Norton; rhinestone and cotton from Frieda & Nellie; oxidized brass and silk from Biko; metal and cotton from H&M; metal, gold plate, and polyester from Venessa Arizaga; and rhodium plate and metallic silk from Chloe + Isabel.

“You Can Do Global” writes fashion director Cindy Weber-Cleary in the April 2013 issue of InStyle: “Today, designers are tapping into these [hippie culture] colorful motifs and sensuous textures in silhouettes that give you a worldly sophistication.” Highlighted above are a trio of bracelets from Holst + Lee made of Swarovski crystals, cotton thread (wrapped or woven), magnets, and brass. A Dolce & Gabbana ensemble, including raffia-accented earrings, appears at left.

Weber-Cleary explains at length why she loves this look—referencing the feeling of involvement in the cool hippie counterculture and the freedom to pick and choose one’s identity—and adds this wish: “Even when mass-produced, these clothes and accessories pay tribute to the handiwork of different cultures. Here’s hoping those entranced with all things artisanal, from pickles to whiskey, will also embrace age-old crafts such as hand-beading, weaving, and batik so the skills aren’t lost.” Much more on the jewelry textile trend will follow in upcoming posts.