The Best Collections of 2012 Jewelry Week

After finally sorting through five pounds of press kits (that’s right, I weighed them) and an entire notebook of show observations, I’ve developed a short list of my personal favorites from the Las Vegas shows. To be fair, I only had time to work JCK Las Vegas and Couture, and not NICHE: The Show at Planet Hollywood, which had a well-edited selection of fantastic jewelry exhibitors like Matsu Jewellery Studio, but, still, I saw a lot of jewelry! My criteria for this selection: overall appearance (which is subjective); freshness in the market compared with other collections; cohesiveness; manufacturing quality; and, to an extent, pricing. Please feel free to share your favorites by way of the comment function.

Colette: Her newest work is inspired by a month spent in Corsica; the aesthetic is that of the designer’s view of the water, featuring opals, vintage turquoise with green and orange colors, and a variety of other stones, as well as gorgeous galleries on undersides. I just think every piece is dreamy. (See some new Colette pieces in the slideshow below; and for an interview with the designer, check out the July-August issue of JCK.)

Tahizea: Sterling silver and Tahitian pearls—need I say more? It’s an affordable line, starting at well under $500 retail, with looks that are youthful, abundant SKUs, and a U.S.–based sales rep who’s easy to reach by phone and email. If you’ve had trouble embracing pearls or convincing clients that they’re no longer boring, Barbara Bush–esque, it’s because this line isn’t in your store yet.

Tahizea silver and pearl earrings

Silver earrings with Tahitian pearls; €373

Somers Jewelry: I love the wild, freeform shapes of Somers Randolph’s rings—they look just his massive stone sculptures. The metal work is hefty, and retails easily hit a wide range of price points thanks to creations in silver and gold. For an organic, sculptural, metal-intense line that’s made in the United States, check out this one.

Somers jewelry rings

I tried on a few rings at the Somers booth during jewelry week.

Vanessa Leu: She was a JCK Rising Star a few years ago, and named a Designer to Watch by WWD this year—and it’s easy to see why. Vanessa Leu’s edgy, oxidized styles are just plain cool. Plus, the looks are cohesive from less-expensive styles to higher-end ones. If you like dark, minimalist effects that radiate rock star, Leu’s line is for you. And on an ironic note: The designer herself could not be more demure and unassuming.

Vanessa Leu rutilated quartz, diamond, and black gold earrings

Earrings in 18k black gold with 54 cts. t.w. red rutilated quartz and 1.20 cts. t.w. black diamonds; $9,300

Lauren Harper Collection: Harper’s work has vast pretty appeal. In silver and gold, she’s got options, though none will be altogether inexpensive; this jewelry is well made, and even in silver, it’ll cost you more than other lines. Harper has big editorial looks, as well as everyday styles, and every piece is über-feminine: matte finishes, soft color combinations, lots of pavé accents, and clusters of stones, in addition to ample mixes of different shapes.  

Lauren Harper gemstone and gold necklace

Chrysocolla, apatite, and aquamarine mosaic necklace