Fashion Facets

MEDAL FOR PERSONAL BATTLES

Pennsylvania jewelry designer Mary Lou Hayko has a deep drive to help women and families touched by the tragedy of breast cancer. Hayko’s mother succumbed to the disease after a 10-year battle that began when Hayko was a sophomore in high school; her brother’s wife died after fighting for four-and-a-half years.

As the daughter of a cancer patient, Hayko herself is considered “high risk,” but luckily thus far has been cancer-free. She has, however, turned her personal grief into a line of jewelry designed to symbolize not only cancer survival but also many other life struggles from which women have emerged victorious.

What began as an entry for a breast-cancer fund-raising design competition has become a talisman that many women refuse to take off. With help from her jewelry partner, Avishai Greis, Hayko designed a bracelet to be sold at six regional shopping malls around Philadelphia and southern New Jersey during October 1997 (October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month). They produced 1,300 of the Woman’s Survival Bracelet, which sold out at the malls.

“Women wear it to symbolize survival of not just breast cancer, but also rape, physical abuse and divorce,” says Hayko. The symbols, she says, often bring tears to women’s eyes.

Bracelets are available in sterling silver or karat gold and come packaged with a card insert explaining the symbolism of each charm.

Hayko-Greis Jewelry Designs, 733 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19106; (888) 215-2466 or (215) 922-1407.

Diamonds, Platinum & Pearls at Oscars

Platinum jewelry and cultured pearls joined diamonds as favorite choices of celebrities attending the Academy Awards on March 23. Best supporting actress Kim Basinger exemplified minimalism with a simple pair of cultured pearl stud earrings, while Joan Cusack, a nominee for the same category, wore a platinum, diamond and South Sea pearl necklace. Best actress Helen Hunt also went minimal with diamond stud earrings and a vintage diamond bracelet. Cameron Diaz wore a diamond and platinum barrette, and gold-medal figure skating champion Tara Lipinski wore diamonds and gold. Madonna chose an antique-style sapphire, diamond and South Sea pearl drop necklace, and pearls also graced Anjelica Huston, Faye Dunaway, Raquel Welch, Kim Delaney, Anna Paquin and Allison Eastwood.

Meanwhile, the Platinum Guild International, whose American base is less than an hour’s drive from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, hosted a suite at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons Hotel, also known as “Oscar Central.” Hotel guests, mostly Academy nominees and presenters, were invited to view the latest platinum jewelry from Diva, Michael Beaudry, Kwiat, Michael B., Christian Tse, Michael Bondanza, Harold Freeman, Cynthia Bach, Suna Bros., I. Friedman & Son, Charles Krypell, Jack Kelege & Co., Gumuchian Fils, Erica Courtney and Loree Rodkin. Also featured were platinum watches by Franck Muller, Breitling, IWC, Delma, Maurice Lacroix and Kwiat.

Luminaries who visited the suite came to borrow or simply admire the jewelry on display. PGI’s own Laurie Hudson, who attended both the Oscar ceremony and Elton John’s post-Oscar bash at Spago, said, “The amount of jewelry, especially real jewelry, worn by celebrities at the Oscars was breathtaking. Even more amazing was the amount of platinum worn to the event!”

A HOLE IN ONE

Parents of pre-teen girls used to brace themselves for the inevitable day when their daughters begged, pleaded or just went ahead and got pierced ears.

Lucky them. Today, girls don’t ask “can I?” but rather “in how many places?”

The Ear Wrap is a compromise sure to delight both parent and child. In sterling silver or 14k gold, the Ear Wrap features various charm dangles in metal and/or gemstones. It has one post but a look formerly accomplished only with multiple holes.

The designer, Ken Stracuzzi for Millenium 3 Concepts, says the design went through an arduous approval process by some of the harshest critics: his 10-year-old daughter, Lauren, and her school friends. When she wore one to class one day, kids and teachers alike thought it was a pretty cool idea and her Dad must be a pretty cool guy if he invented it.

Ear Wrap designs are influenced by the soft lines in nature, such as flowing water and cloud forms. Each set includes a wrap, designed for the left ear, and a matching stud for the right ear. The wrap allows interchangeability of charms. Stracuzzi recently was granted a registered trademark for the Ear Wrap®, a trademark allowance for Millennium Three Concepts and a utility patent for the design. Getting the design patent, he says, took “two years and a bazillion dollars!”

Stracuzzi feels it’s important to bring a hand-made, artistic feel to a mass-market priced item. Quite a few boutique stores apparently agree; they’re snapping up the earrings almost as fast as Stracuzzi can make them. Prices begin around $29.99 per set in sterling silver and $299 in 14k gold. Each set includes one wrap, one charm and one matching stud; additional charms are available.

Millennium Three Concepts Inc., P.O. Box 1627, Southampton, PA 18966; (215) 396-9848. E-mail: mill3@pond.com.

EAST MEETS WEST

The current trend for ethnic, Asian and Indian-inspired fashion has also sparked a desire for jewelry inspired by or imported from exotic locales. As Western style is attracted by the higher karatage and spiritual appeal of Eastern jewelry, so too are Eastern designers attracted toward Western high-fashion styles and business philosophies of marketing by brand name.

The World Gold Council in London last year initiated an international research project titled “East Meets West.” Its aim was to explore the combination of Western trends with Eastern psyche, ultimately leading to a collection of 22k gold jewelry with appeal to both Europeans and Asians. The Council asked 10 of Britain’s leading gold designers to create the Au Couture Collection, which was launched last fall and photographed by world-renowned photographer John Swannell. His images were featured alongside the actual pieces at the inaugural exhibition, and were again used in an elegant, glossy poster-size wall calendar published by the World Gold Council UK. Our cover this month features one photo from that exhibition.

For more photos of high-karat gold jewelry, see “Yellow Gold is Quite Auright!” on page 76.

AROUND THE WORLD IN GOLD

As demand for luxury goods continues unabated and consumers insist upon quality in all their purchases, jewelers find very high karat gold jewelry gaining in appeal. But many wonder whether to stock classic inventory in high karatages or limit high-karat displays to exotic ethnic or designer special occasion pieces.

Sonali, a California-based manufacturer of 22k gold jewelry, is one firm that offers both. Its competitively priced collections of 22k gold include everything from simple, unadorned hoop earrings to popular motifs to large, ornate, gem-encrusted pieces that evoke images of the great jewels of India.

Sunil Kumar, vice president of marketing, says the real advantage of Sonali’s 22k gold is that a special alloy they’ve developed makes it sturdy enough to wear every day, allaying consumer fears that 22k is too soft for jewelry.

Sonali, 2103 El Camino Real, #208, Oceanside, CA 92054; (619) 721-6152.