If you’re headed to the Salon Art + Design at the Park Avenue Armory this week (doors open Thursday, Nov. 14), you won’t want to miss the Protagonist, a unique fine jewelry showcase focused on best-in-class luxury jewelry artists who use mindful practices, sustainable materials, and responsible sourcing in their designs.
Presented by Vogue Italia, Protagonist 2019 will feature the work of 15 jewelry designers including Lydia Courteille, Munnu the Gem Palace, Neha Dani, Alexander Laut, K. Brunini, and Alessio Boschi (whose work we adore seeing at VicenzaOro). Each designer’s creations may include natural and ethically minded materials such as recycled gemstones, precious metals, and reclaimed wood.
This year’s installment marks the fifth anniversary of the exhibition. Jewelry designer Alexandra Mor has served as the exhibition’s artistic director since 2017 and has been a leading voice when it comes urging the fine jewelry industry to design pieces using alternative materials— beginning with the tagua seed, the botanical alternative to elephant ivory.
We know that millennial and Gen Z consumers, even those with very modest budgets, are highly influenced to purchase jewelry made with sustainable materials and are very concerned about ethical mining and craftsmanship practices and protecting the environment.
Does the luxury customer, the discerning collector of considerable means, have similar principles and values?
“The luxury customer is no different than any other consumer,” says Mor. “If a person cares about sustainability, it’s due to the personal values that are important to him or her.”
But, says, Mor, an integral component of Protagonist is to educate collectors on how to acquire jewelry while keeping issues of sustainability, social responsibility, and the good of the planet top of mind. As such, Mor will be leading a “Collecting Fine Jewelry in a Sustainable World” talk with the participating designers at the Armory on Saturday, Nov. 16, at 1 p.m.
“All of the Protagonist brands have seen massive support from collectors who care about the planet and the environment,” she says. “I think oftentimes consumers will not always know how they can help or how to give back. With making high jewelry pieces they can wear and share the story of, they become ambassadors. As designers we give them an opportunity to be a part of the movement of change.”
A sneak peek at some of the Protagonist designs is offered below. Ten percent of proceeds from sales at the show will be donated to Space for Giants.
Top: Eternity band with 20 cts. t.w. hexagonal-cut Muzo emeralds and 1.8 cts. t.w. diamonds in platinum and 18k yellow gold, price on request; Alexandra Mor. This one-of-a-kind piece is one of many being showcased in the special Protagonist exhibit at Salon Art + Design, which runs Nov. 14–18 in New York City.
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