Fashion Facets

THE WHEEL REDUX

“Reinventing the Wheel,” this year’s American Jewelry Design Council artistic design project, inspired a wide variety of interpretations. They were all showcased at the American Craft Museum in New York City this summer.

The council, founded in 1990 to recognize and promote jewelry of original design as art, sponsors a design project each year to foster a better understanding of the relationship between art and jewelry.

This year, AJDCPresident Michael Good urged members to focus solely on jewelry rather than other media as they have in past projects. In addition, this year’s contest was sponsored by the Platinum Guild International, inspiring designers to new and innovative uses of the metal in their creations. The resulting pieces ran the gamut from traditional expressions of what’s round to some truly twisted shifts.

DESIGN FINDS

South African jewelry designer Jenna Clifford, a high-fashion success in her own country, is ready to take on the world.

Her designs, favored by the likes of supermodels Claudia Schiffer and Daniela Pestova, have graced many a magazine page in South Africa’s fashion press since she launched her line of bold and dramatic designs in 1992. Clifford’s work is classic yet contemporary, but never trendy. She says it’s important that her work embody a sense of power, so many of her creations have a “power symbol” (representing such elements as peace, love, eternity or empathy) hidden in a corner.

Power emanates from Clifford as well. Her personality is as strong and confident as her jewelry. She’s been in the industry since 1979, where a managerial position at Urdang Manufacturers of Johannesburg taught her the jewelry business from the raw material to the end consumer. She established her own manufacturing enterprise in 1985. In 1992, she and her husband and business partner, Dex Kotze, launched a retail venue to sell the signature line she now brings to the U.S.

Though her designs are bold and intended for a woman of strong taste, the always-busy Clifford believes in keeping life simple and in making a statement through one dramatic signature piece rather than piling on heaps of baubles.

“As in Cleopatra’s day, when one bold necklace or ring was worn as effective jewelry, I want the wearer of my designs to embrace the minerals they contain and to use those earth life powers for her purposes,” says Clifford. She makes sure it can happen with a wide range of prices, from simple pieces affordable to the average working woman to spectacular gem-intensive treasures.

Jenna Clifford’s international representative is Heystek International Inc., (27-11) 483-1637, fax (27-11) 483-3214 or 3215.

Small but sophisticated are the delicate, romantic designs of designer Cathy Carmendy of Santa Monica, Cal. Carmendy’s work has a slightly Byzantine or Victorian feel, with fine millgrain detailing and tiny hidden gemstones adding subtle sophistication and richness. Carmendy’s philosophy follows the concept that less is more and elegance comes without ostentation.

“A small delicate pair of earrings is like a hint of perfume,” she says.

Carmendy particularly loves pearls, and many of her designs center on delicate caps with pearl drops. But she’s quick to stress that each design is created from a mental image of that piece rather than a theme. “I think a theme is too limiting,” she says of her eclectic collection.

Though Carmendy feels a woman can never have too many pieces of pearl jewelry, she doesn’t ignore diamonds or colored gemstones. She favors sapphires in all their colors, plus other vivid gems such as green, lavender and gold tourmaline. She has been known to create a one-of-a-kind piece just because she couldn’t resist buying a particular stone.

Carmendy attended Central Michigan University and Lawrence Institute of Technology and later was a government contract supervisor. She entered the jewelry business as a retailer, opening her first designer jewelry store in Southfield, Mich., in 1987. Two years later, she opened a second store in Santa Monica, Cal., featuring the work of designers Kathryn Post, Loree Rodkin, Luna Felix and Richard Kimball, all of whom Carmendy lauds as inspirations. Now, as a designer in her own right, her work has been offered in stores from Beverly Hills to Puerto Rico.

Contact Cathy Carmendy at (310) 396-3120.