8 Fashion Jewelry Designers That Fine Jewelry Retailers Need to Know

Ten years ago, a fine jeweler wouldn’t have been caught dead selling anything less than 14k gold—so clear were the lines that separated the fine end of the business from its fashionable (but, on the face, less prestigious) counterpart. Then the Great Recession struck, throwing all those hoary distinctions out the window.

Alexis Bittar, Erickson Beamon, and Miriam Haskell are among the standouts on the fashion jewelry scene, but they’re far from the only ones. Today, costume jewels—which JCK defines as lines composed of mostly base metals set with either lower-quality natural gems or faux stones like CZ, and often paired with liberal amounts of silver—have become an inventory staple in high-end jewelry stores, offering consumers the size and statement-making potential they crave without breaking the bank.

Plus, many retailers are realizing that fashion jewelry is a great way to attract the next generation of buyers; skeptics only need look to BaubleBar and Alex and Ani for proof that lack of precious materials is no deterrent to sales. In the market for fresh talent? These eight under-the-radar costume lines are worth your time (and money!).

Alexandra Koumba

Athens-born Alexandra Koumba finds inspiration in the prized materials of ancient cultures. Think Chinese knots, seeds, lace, and more, which she renders in silver and 18k gold–plated bronze, with lots of textured surfaces and occasional accents of black rhodium. “I am using universal archetype symbolism and historic references of ancient civilizations in a modern language,” she says. Koumba’s work is for sale via Facebook and her own website, but she is looking to build a stable of U.S. retailers. She also makes fine styles in karat gold with baguette-cut diamonds, as well as housewares.
Starting retail price: $80?
Trade fairs: None
Minimum buy-in: $1,500
Contact: 917-439-1974; alexandrakoumba.com

Spine double ring in bronze; $87; Alexandra Koumba, NYC; 917-439-1974; alexandrakoumba.com

Miriam Salat

Miriam Salat is known for oversize jewelry—stacked bangles and cuffs, statement earrings, and big cocktail rings—with an heirloom feel. Her signature look features resin, hand-set CZs, vivid color combinations, and silver and 14k gold–plated brass. “Our customer likes to mix Miriam Salat with her fine jewelry,” she says, “so the quality and sparkle is important.” The line appears in clothing boutiques like Ivory & Birch in Youngstown, Ohio, as well as fine jewelry stores.
Starting retail price: $95?
Trade fairs: None
Minimum buy-in: $3,000
Contact: 212-315-4900; miriamsalat.com

Enchantment earrings in silver-plated brass with resin and white CZ; $295; Miriam Salat, NYC; 212-315-4900; miriamsalat.com

Ashley Pittman

Ashley Pittman’s collection has caught the attention of buyers at Neiman Marcus and Stanley Korshak not only for her earthy style but also for its roots. Her Kenya-made, repurposed horn and bronze jewels are set with such stones as rubies, garnets, tourmalines, and amethysts—gems commonly found in East Africa. The idea, Pittman explains, is to reinterpret “the power and simplicity expressed in the shapes and textures of centuries-old African jewelry.” The line is also sold in Cornell’s Jewelers in Rochester, N.Y., and various boutiques.
Starting retail price: $295?
Trade fairs: None
Minimum buy-in: $7,000
Contact: 214-764-4141; ashleypittman.com

Zito bangle set of six in bronze with repurposed horn and Tanzanian sunstone; $695; Ashley Pittman, Dallas; 214-764-4141; ashleypittman.com

French Kande

Kande Hall started a collection after shopping for vintage medallions in France, where she sourced styles from the 1960s made by businesses from “boulangeries to banks.” She attached one to a strand of pearls and her signature style was born. Reproductions of some of those medallions are made in pewter- and silver-plated brass with precious stones and pearls. Meltem Yilmazturk, owner of Coquette in Denver, says shoppers praise Hall’s designs for their size and color; the retailer likes that they aren’t sold in department stores.
Starting retail price: $40?
Trade fairs: ENK International in New York City; ENK Vegas
Minimum buy-in: $750
Contact: 310-546-1380; frenchkande.com

Pineau Medallion necklace in silver-plated brass with crystal accents; $319; French Kande, Manhattan Beach, Calif.; 310-546-1380; frenchkande.com

Sarah Magid

Sarah Magid’s collection combines her experience as a ­jewelry and accessories designer for big brands including Coach with her love of modern art and architecture. Favoring 12k gold–plated brass, Swarovski crystals, and gems like mother-of-pearl and dyed agate, Magid describes her style as “feminine geometry.” Praised by Jim Wetzel, owner of ­Chicago’s space519, for their versatility, Magid’s pieces are “a bit more rock ’n’ roll” when it comes to her use of color, but they can also work for more conservative buyers. “I have clients that lean toward the tiger’s eye where it feels a bit more modern-preppy,” he says.
Starting retail price: $88?
Trade fairs: Coterie; ENK Accessorie Circuit; The Box Paris
Minimum buy-in: $600
Contact: 917-405-3022; sarahmagid.com

Montparnasse necklace in brass with enamel, Swarovski crystals, and 12k gold–plated brass chain; $648; Sarah Magid, Brooklyn, N.Y.; 917-405-3022; sarahmagid.com

Patricia Peckinpaugh 

Patricia Peckinpaugh loved collecting antique intaglios so much that she turned her hobby into a full-fledged business. Her pieces are made in 24k gold–plated bronze—though she does have a few in 18k gold—and all styles have a rich, regal aesthetic complete with fern and fleur-de-lis motifs. Peckinpaugh’s gemstones of choice include labradorite, moonstone, and peridot for their timelessness and versatility. Currently, the jewels are available only on her own website, but she’s hoping to pique the interest of select retailers seeking a finely made costume line with a small selection of karat gold pieces.
Starting retail price: $350?
Trade fairs: None
Minimum buy-in: $5,000
Contact: 713-859-2089; patriciapeckinpaugh.com

Maltese Cross cuffs in 24k gold–plated brass with amethysts, moonstones, coin pearls, green amethyst, and coin pearls; $925 each; Patricia Peckinpaugh, Harris, Texas; 713-859-2089; patriciapeckinpaugh.com


Michael Saiger’s Miansai comprises modern hardware–esque styles that “mix hard lines with softer feminine touches,” he says. He makes metal-intense looks for women and men, largely in sterling silver and 18k gold–plated brass, all with a decidedly unisex appeal. Hook and anchor motifs are staples, as is a signature Modern Screw cuff that recalls a shackle. (It was recently featured in Rachel Zoe’s new Box of Style subscription.) Watches, leather bracelets, and other accessories round out the collection, which can be found at a flagship New York City store, Barney’s, and men’s shops like EastDane.com.
Starting retail price: $55?
Trade fairs: Pitti Immagine Uomo in Florence, Italy; Capsule in Paris; Liberty Fairs in New York City and Las Vegas; Coeur in Los Angeles
Minimum buy-in: $2,000
Contact: 305-375-8132; miansai.com

Modern Screw Cuff bracelet in 18k gold–plated brass; $200; Miansai, Miami; 305-375-8132; miansai.com

Lele Sadoughi

One look at Lisa “Lele” Sadoughi’s enviable résumé—a stint at Ippolita, followed by costume jewelry design director posts at J.Crew and Tory Burch—and it’s easy to see why the clean lines of her jewels, inspired by post–industrial age machinery and vintage designs, have become so covetable. Dallas native Sadoughi, now based in New York City, uses both faux stones like crystal and reconstituted blends of natural ones like howlite and marble in oversize silhouettes, some with leaf accents. Reinforcing the young firm’s appeal: case space in retailers Harvey Nichols and Lane Crawford, among others.
Starting retail price: $78?
Trade fairs: None
Minimum buy-in: None to date
Contact: 212-228-8422; lelesadoughi.com

Pinball ring in 14k gold–plated brass with glass pearl; $115; Lele Sadoughi, NYC; 212-228-8422; lelesadoughi.com

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