Fashion Facets

Diamonds and Pearls Walk the Runway

At the spring/summer 2000 ready-to-wear shows last fall in New York, several leading fashion designers chose real jewelry to accent their new collections. Among the more dramatic pieces were rings combining Tahitian pearls and colored resins, wire and pearl necklaces, diamond masks, a diamond belly chain, and a pair of shoulder-brushing diamond dangle earrings.

Designer Alexander McQueen featured several pieces from the De Beers Diamonds-International Awards 2000 collection, including face masks and several diamond necklaces and pins. This was the first preview of winners from the prestigious competition. The design duo Badgley Mischka, famous for their eveningwear, selected more than $1 million worth of diamond jewelry from Fred Leighton, most notably a pair of “dripping” diamond earrings that almost reached the model’s shoulders.

Eveningwear designer William Calvert chose pearl jewelry from Tahiti Perles to accent his clothes. Robert Wan, principal of the jewelry company, says Calvert’s sleek shapes and vibrant colors provided the perfect backdrop for his new collection. Tahiti Perles produces more than 65% of the pearls coming from French Polynesia. The collaboration with Calvert marks one of the few times a private jewelry company has taken such a high profile in sponsoring a designer at the New York fashion shows. Wan says the collaboration is part of the firm’s plans to build its brand on a global level and reinforce the notion that jewelry is an essential part of every woman’s wardrobe.

Spielberg Receives David Yurman Award

At last fall’s GQ magazine Men of the Year Awards in New York, filmmaker Steven Spielberg received the first David Yurman Humanitarian Award. The jewelry designer created a bronze sculpture of an inspirational angel, which was presented to Spielberg to honor his contributions to the arts and to the betterment of society. Spielberg, in addition to his role as a filmmaker, has worked with such humanitarian organizations as the Shoah Visual History Foundation, the Righteous Persons Foundation, and the Starbright Foundation. He’s also a past recipient of the U.S. Defense Department’s Distinguished Public Service Medal.

“We were looking for a Man of the Year who really connects to the human spirit, and who touches the lives of so many people in such a positive way better than Steven Spielberg does?” said the jewelry designer.

Yurman’s angel dates from the beginning of his career as a sculptor, when he first created the image as a symbol of hope and charity. In keeping with the meaning of the sculpture, David and Sybil Yurman donate a portion of the proceeds from each of their shows to various charities. Most recently, they created an angel pin to raise money for Project ALS and a heart-shaped pin from their signature cable collection to raise money for pediatric AIDS.

How Do You Wear Your Lazare Diamond?

Confronted with the steady proliferation of branded-jewelry advertising in consumer magazines, Lazare Diamonds was eager to launch a campaign of its own that would stand out from the clutter. Its new campaign does just that. It’s designed to persuade the reader to begin “taking ownership” of a Lazare diamond and ultimately make an emotional connection to the gem.

“The purchase of a piece of diamond jewelry is an emotional decision,” says Michael Heitner, president of Heitner Weiss Inc., the agency that produced the ads. Bob Speisman, director and senior vice president of Lazare Diamonds, notes that when choosing an engagement ring, many couples focus on the mounting even though the diamond represents 80% to 90% of the ring’s price. The new ads graphically convey the message that the diamond should be the most important part of any jewelry purchase—they show an unmounted diamond on the body where a ring or earring would be worn. The stone glows vibrantly but is unconnected to a piece of jewelry. To help reduce the anxieties associated with a diamond purchase, the ads emphasize the reassurance that comes with a Lazare branded stone.

The campaign broke in the fourth quarter of 1999 and will run through June 2000 in Elle, InStyle, Bride’s, Modern Bride, and other magazines. In addition, Lazare’s public relations agency, CMA, will support the campaign with public relations events and marketing programs.

Design Discoveries Out of the Egg

Time Out New York magazine calls designer Katrin Zimmermann’s pieces “some of the most provocative contemporary couture jewelry around.” Zimmermann, creator of the line “Ex Ovo,” is as individualistic and unique as the jewelry she creates. Born in Germany and educated in Switzerland, England, and China, she speaks seven languages. She came to New York in 1991 to study jewelry design at the Fashion Institute of Technology and has never regretted her decision to give up her career in Chinese art history. Her perseverance was rewarded in June 1999, when she was elected to membership in the prestigious Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA).

The name Ex Ovo, which means “out of the egg,” is a reflection of Zimmermann’s commitment to creativity. Her exposure to many different cultures provides the basis for her work. The art and culture of the Far East is the strongest influence, and the main feature of her design is a Japanese-style reduction to, and emphasis on, the bare essence of a stone, which, she says, is best evoked by simplicity of setting. “The beauty of an object lies in its sparseness—the space around an object is almost more important than the object itself,” she says. “I like for my pieces to bring out an inner tension that gives them integrity. This tension comes from the asymmetry, which I love to emphasize.”

Zimmermann’s recent trademark pieces explore the hard, shiny, cold qualities of silver juxtaposed with the soft, sensual, warm feeling of leather. She is known for innovative use of materials, including exotic woods, horsehair, and pearls. Some of her recent best sellers are silver and leather wrist and neck huggers, which wrap and fit more tightly to the body than standard necklaces or bracelets.

In New York, Ex Ovo is carried at Barney’s and Henri Bendel, where it has enjoyed tremendous sell-through. Ex Ovo pieces have been worn by such celebrities as Halle Berry, Wesley Snipes, Liv Tyler, Kate Moss, Lucie de la Falaise, Noel Gallagher, Arthur Cohen, Keith Richards, and Richards’ dogs.

Ex Ovo, 302 Bowery, New York, NY 10012; (212) 539-1359.

The Simple Things

Jewelry designer Joann Howeth adheres to the philosophy that less is more. Had she ever met authors Jeff Stone and Kim Johnson Gross, they might have considered her a worthy poster child for their “Chic Simple” series of books about living with fewer but finer clothes, accessories, furniture, and household objects.

Howeth’s one-of-a-kind and limited- edition jewelry designs are influenced by the pure, elegant lines of classical ballet as well as by the beauty of the mountains surrounding her home in Helena, Mont. She creates each piece herself, from sketch to finish. Though she does job out her casting, she hand-carves the wax models and does all finishing work by hand. Most of her work is executed in 14k yellow gold with colored gemstones, diamonds, and pearls.

Howeth began her jewelry career in 1981, working for a Chicago-area jeweler. After a few career detours, in 1994 she earned a Graduate Gemologist diploma from the Gemological Institute of America. Armed with her G.G. and five years’ experience in jewelry retailing, she headed to GIA’s Santa Monica, Calif., campus for courses in jewelry design and manufacturing. She established her own jewelry firm, Jonique, in 1995 and registered its trademark in 1997.

Aside from jewelry, Howeth fills her home and her life with pieces of art and possessions that she considers rare and special, always focusing on quality rather than quantity. She says the same philosophy guides her design. “Jewelry is the final extension of one’s personality. A woman should never wear it merely because it’s declared the latest fashion. If a woman owns only a few pieces of fine jewelry, she should adore — absolutely — every piece.”

Howeth’s jewelry fits a wide range of budgets, so a woman can find one or several pieces to adore. Jonique by Joann Howeth, P.O. Box 4775, Helena, MT 59604; (406) 443-6374.