Remember when Melissa Kaye debuted a collection that paired clean geometric motifs with shockingly bright enamel? Certainly it was a key plot point in the New York–based jewelry designer’s rise to acclaim. “When we introduced enamel into our collection in 2019, people started to show even more excitement,” she told JCK in 2020. “That’s when things happened, and we tended to get a little more visibility.”
A year or so after debuting her Cristina earring clad in a spectrum of electric hues, the world would change, and the gloom and doom of the pandemic made the need for neon the norm, not a novelty.
It’s fair to say that other brands have taken a note from Kaye, as the pandemic era has prompted the appearance of innumerable collections in enamel in similarly escapist tropical paradise hues. But so be it, says Kaye.
“Copycats are inevitable, but our neon range speaks for itself,” she says. “I have faith that our retail partners, press, and other industry peers recognize the original. I focus on my craft and stay in my lane.”
Kaye’s focus at this precise moment hits on the seemingly eternal appeal of vibrant enamel and another red-hot trend: luxurious gold chain links. Her new Kira collection of bracelets and rings combines both elements, with or without diamonds, for the perfect retail-ready mix.
“The Kira collection is based on the concept of a mainstay—the chain—but reinterpreted with inspiration from modern architecture,” she says. “My goal in designing any piece is to create something innovative and timeless. I like to reimagine classics. Women today are wearing jewelry like a second skin. It’s unstudied and not fussy, so I like to create around that notion, and that’s where [the Kira] links come from.”
Feedback from her retailer partners—and the proven success of 2020’s Ada collection—also influenced the direction of Kira. “Our Ada chain was very well received, and that inspired me to continue to develop collections based on new and unique links,” says Kaye. “Like white T-shirts and denim, you can never have too many iterations of a chain link.”
Or color. Glorious, Kaye-tastic color. Because the clouds are still gathering, and rainbows may be a safer bet than silver linings.
Top: Kira bracelet in 18k gold and neon green enamel and pavé diamonds, $11,450
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