Fashion Facets

The Silver Ice Anniversary

Designer David Yurman has introduced Silver Ice, a groundbreaking jewelry collection combining sterling silver and diamonds. It includes bracelets, necklaces, earrings, rings and watches priced from $750 to $2,950.

The exclusive collection was created to mark the 90th anniversary of Neiman Marcus and the 10-year relationship between designer and retailer. It features silver cable pavéd with brilliant-cut diamonds and 18k gold accents. Intended to be worn “day into night,” the jewelry is designed to complement both current fall fashions and other pieces in Yurman’s jewelry collection.

A brand of gold

For one week in October, the jewelry counters at the Broadway doors of Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square turned to gold – displays of Uno A Erre Italian gold, that is.

The event was Macy’s first-ever promotion of a branded fine gold jewelry collection. In addition to the counters, nine windows on busy 34th St. were devoted exclusively to Uno A Erre designs for three weeks. (Yes, that is the same 34th Street of Christmas miracles.)

The entire area became a mini-boutique, merchandised to reflect the promotion with specially designed cases and visual displays above. Sales associates received special training on the product and the company’s history.

“It’s exciting to be recognized as a brand. It’s what we’ve been working toward for the past two years,” says Paolo Novembri, president of Uno A Erre in the U.S. Novembri also is pleased by the continuing rise in quality. Forty percent of the product assortment for the Macy’s promotion was 18k, including a line of 18k watches. A selection of casual, easygoing men’s jewelry combined 18k gold with leather.

Keeping up with the trend for white, the assortment included 14k white/yellow gold combinations and some basic white gold chains, as well as 18k white gold with diamond accents, white/yellow and yellow/rose combination pieces. The collection was priced from $100 to between $5,000 and $6,000, with all merchandise selling at full price.

To build traffic, Uno A Erre and Macy’s advertised in the New York Times, sent out 6,000 invitations to members of Macy’s President’s club of preferred customers, and offered a gift-with-purchase of a silver chain and pendant.

The Uno A Erre mini-boutique at Macy’s.

TheWinning Pearls

The Cultured Pearl Information Center announced that the deadline for the 1998 International Pearl Design Contest is March 17. The annual contest is a major event in the worldwide jewelry competition calendar; this year’s contest drew 1,403 entrants from 28 countries.

Japanese designer Yoko Tanaka won the 1997 grand prize for her “Dew Drops of a Pine Tree” necklace combining akoya cultured pearls with gold and emeralds. Tanaka’s necklace was entered in the contest’s freestyle actual jewelry category. The other two categories were thematic actual jewelry design (with the theme being botanical motifs) and paper rendering design.

Naomi Tanimura took first prize in the freestyle category with a necklace of akoya cultured pearls, gold and silver. Sumiko Matsubara won first prize in the thematic category for her akoya cultured pearl, diamond and gold brooch. First prize in the paper rendering category went to Edith Brabata Domingues for a bracelet of black Tahitian and white akoya cultured pearls.

Seven Americans also were honored in the competition. Kathy Chan, Staci Kerman and Cornelis Hollander received prizes for actual jewelry designs and Philip Dismuke, Lisa Wood, Armik Malekian and Buzz Wachler for their paper renderings.

Michaela Frey Wien of Austria is a leader in distinctive enamel art jewelry. The company’s jewelry has been recognized by some of the foremost art institutions in the world, including the Louvre in Paris and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. In 1989, the company received the right to print the Austrian national emblem next to its name, the country’s highest art distinction.

Michaela Frey, who founded the company in 1951, died in 1980. Now the collections are produced by a group of artists managed by Friedrich Wille. Each collection is based on an art history theme, such as Egyptian, Greco-Roman or Viennese Art Nouveau, modern art, marine, English country life and the works of particular artists such as William Morris or Claude Monet.

The Egyptian line, for example, features traditional scarab, lotus flower and hieroglyphic symbols to spell out good wishes. The Frey interpretation of Claude Monet’s works, meanwhile, features colorful lilies.

Each collection offers a vivid assortment of colors and motifs in bangles, earrings, brooches and necklaces. A men’s collection includes cuff links, button covers and key rings. Pieces are created by fusing 24k gold powder and multiple layers of color onto 18k gold, then finishing them by hand. Most collections also have matching 36-in.-square silk twill scarves.

Michaela Frey Wien is distributed worldwide through its own retail shops in Austria, France, Germany, England, Italy and Saudi Arabia, and in various department stores, on airlines and in duty-free shops around the world. In the U.S., the collections are available at Fortunoff, Westbury, N.Y. The company wants to open more stores and franchised boutiques in the U.S. and elsewhere. The marketing concept includes staffing by Frey employees for close cooperation and guidance for franchise partners.

IS ‘DESIGNER’ DEAD?

Brian Charles, of N. Tonawanda, N.Y., no longer tells people he makes designer jewelry.

In a recent issue of “Brian Charles Connections,” his customer newsletter, the author/jeweler maintains that the word “designer” is dead, semantically speaking. He says the term is overused, trite and meaningless to the consumer, applied as it is to everything from soap to perfectly ordinary terrycloth towels. He’s even encountered people who think a “jewelry designer” is the guy who remounts diamonds at the mall.

“Saying that I’m a ‘designer’ reveals nothing about the care that I pour into my work,” he says. “It no longer comes close to expressing the consideration I have for the very real person who will wear my pieces, or my concern for my clients’ tastes or passions.”

So what does Charles tell people who ask what he does?

“I create special jewelry for people who desire something beyond the ordinary.” He says the response never fails to start a conversation.

He just can’t say it ten times, fast.

WHAT’S IN STORE

Eve J. Alfillé, archaeologist and scholar turned jewelry designer, celebrates the 10th anniversary of her gallery in Evanston, Ill., with a new collection titled “The Myths of Creation.” In this exhibit, the artist revisits some favorite themes and series of the past, deepening and interrogating our understanding of their sources.

“Ice Castles,” an attempt to juxtapose our perception of the ideal vs. real self, reappears as a series of dramatic works in which the two halves of a piece are linked by bridges of metal, some with intensely colored gems. Exotic pearls, the artist’s signature, are the medium through which she communicates the substance of dreams in a series of brooches and necklaces.

The collection will be on exhibit through January 1998.

Fortunoff’s on Fifth Avenue, New York, hosts the Oro d’Autore collection of Italian jewelry through November and December. This is the last stop on the collection’s four-year world tour.

The collection was conceived in 1988 as a collaborative effort between jewelry producers and top painters, sculptors and architectects from around the world. Artists were invited to design a jewel or object in precious or non-precious material, with the goal of improving the design appeal of modern jewelry. Then Arezzo’s gold manufacturers produced the one-of-a-kind designs using a range of materials from traditional gold, silver, pearls and gems to unusual touches like velvet, Plexiglas and synthetic stones.

The collection has evolved as new artists were invited to participate. Designers from Japan and the United States were included in 1993 and 20 new pieces by Argentinean designers were added in 1995.