My first encounter with the work of West Hollywood, Calif.–based jewelry designer Melissa Spalten, happened at last year’s AGTA Spectrum Awards, where her magnificent Empress ring completely wowed me with its juicy assemblage of fire opal and pink tourmaline.
“I like to create really unique pieces that make you smile and feel special,” Spalten told JCK’s Clarissa Cruz. “Things that are conversation starters that make people say, ‘Ooh, what is that?’ I’m not really driven by trends.… I think about what I would want to wear and how I can take that idea and make it unique, yet modern and accessible.”
There’s no denying Spalten is all about gems and color stories, whether she’s pairing blue sapphires with cobalt-blue enamel on a bangle or turning an earthy bicolor brown-green tourmaline into a total glamazon by placing it in a gold cocktail ring glittering with pavé diamonds.
Upon viewing her newest pieces at JCK Las Vegas, though, it was apparent that the designer is working hard to establish a distinctive aesthetic beyond the unique stones that have drawn in her legion of fans. The Accordion collection, for example, plays to the season’s rainbow trend with a clean-cut zigzag motif (interconnected M’s upon closer inspection). She’s playing with the scale, configuration, and number of points on her signature starbursts so that you can keep it simple with a stud earring or turn heads in a pair of moody boulder opal earrings rimmed in lilac sapphires. And her new Ribbon collection features nary a stone at all.
Below, a look at the pieces that got the most attention at JCK Las Vegas, not to be outdone by Spalten’s show outfits: very Texas casual (she’s originally from San Antonio) meets L.A. glam.
Top: Triple Accordion necklace with 5.07 cts. t.w. fancy color sapphires and 0.24 cts. t.w. tsavorite in 14k yellow gold, $3,200