Fashion Facets

AROUND THE WORLD IN GOLD

The World Gold Council booth at the Basel fair showcases leading gold jewelry designs from countries around the world. Here are highlights of the jewelry shown there in April or featured in the council’s 11th Gold Trends Book:

  • France — rings and chokers with soft-linked chains or substantial pendants.

  • Germany — matching sets of bracelets and earrings in rigid, geometrical forms.

  • England — selected pieces from an 18k designer collection characterized by floral motifs, generous shapes and rope work.

  • Italy — jewelry with interwoven braided work, gold crafting techniques evocative of ancient times and innovative techniques such as electroforming.

  • U.S. — designs with geometric, symbolic and floral motifs with unusual surface treatment.

  • Japan — jewelry in 18k and 24k gold with harmonious coiled brooches and rings in soft, sensual forms.

SO EN”GAGE”ING

Elizabeth Gage, a top London jewelry designer, makes her San Francisco debut this year with an exhibition at the Ritz Carlton. Gage, a goldsmith and jewelry designer for more than 20 years, has exhibited her one-of-a-kind handmade pieces worldwide.

Gage began designing jewelry in much the same way that Donna Karan was inspired to create her collection of staple women’s clothes. She couldn’t find a ring she really liked, so she designed one herself. This decision led to a lifelong career and a multimillion dollar company exporting her jewels around the world.

After taking a goldsmiths’ course at Sir John Cass College, Gage spent five years perfecting her work in gold, enameling and diamond mounting. Then she tackled the special techniques of the Cretan goldsmiths during a period of study in Crete.

In 1968, Gage was commissioned to design a collection for Cartier, a major stepping stone in her career. A long list of personal commissions from wealthy clients followed. In 1971, she received a De Beers Diamonds-International Award for her innovative “Agincourt” flexible ring.

Greek craftsmanship, Egyptian goldmsithing and the intricacy of Renaissance jewels influence Gage, who often uses baroque pearls, ancient artifacts, fossils, 19th century intaglios and coins. She combines bright colored enamels with gemstones, mounting them in carved, beaten and sculptured 18k yellow and white gold.

Gage believes in the mystery and healing powers of certain gems. She claims an instinctive relationship strong enough to stop her from working with a stone that makes her uncomfortable. She recalls holding a turquoise which produced a sense of “beat” in her hand; she says she later found that the last chief of the Sioux had worn it above his heart.

Gage’s work is displayed at her London gallery at 20 Albermarle St. Prices start at $2,000 retail. For information on U.S. availability, call (44-171) 499-2879.

YANKE INGENUITY

Here’s more in the “looks like fashion jewelry but it’s real” department (see JCK April 1996, page 54). Michigan jeweler Frank Yanke has designed a line of earrings — convertible, no less — that look like those fashionable crystals on a leverback (you know the ones we mean!). But Yanke’s are handmade 14k gold and come with rhodolite garnet and diamond ($845 retail), trillion CZ ($665) or diamond (from $10,000 for 4-cts.-plus total weight). Other colored gem charms are available to fit on the same hooks. Yanke Designs, Franklin, Mich.

Bejeweled tresses

Attention, Rapunzel! If your prince gets out of line, just pull up your hair and clip it with a new jewel. Christian Dior’s line of French-style barrettes ranges from classic tailored looks for day to glittering pave styles for evening.

Claire Kellam, executive vice president of Christian Dior Jewelry, says hair accessories are a hot category in fashion magazines, runways and television shows. But most styles are casual, so Dior set out to create a line of jewelry for hair. At the moment, the line is strictly fashion, but at a price point way above your average scrunchy. A “lace” barrette of pave crystal retails for $85; a floral style with faux pearls and pave accents is $65.

Dior had several famous hair stylists in New York work with the new line. All gave rave reviews to the ladylike elegance of the look. But why should fashion jewelers have all the fun? Ask a top hair stylist in your town to devise ways of anchoring fine jewels into the hair, then line up a good makeup artist, a good fashion boutique and host a fashion/makeover show.

One tip: A few well-placed bobby pins can secure earrings in a topknot or backsweep, snake a tennis bracelet along a French twist, etc. All it takes is a little imagination and a little hairspray!

DESIGN FINDS

For years, only a handful of jewelry professionals knew the name Stella Berlanga, but her design ideas came to life in the hands of famed Spanish jewelers Carrera Y Carrera. Berlanga has created some of the most potent representations of realism in the realm of painting and sculpture, as well as in jewelry design.

Now after 10 years of creating in her passionate style as principal designer for Carrera Y Carrera, Berlanga has set out on her own, launching the Stella Berlanga Signature Collection in the U.S. in February. Anyone who strolled the designer section of the New York JA show was certain to see the big corner booth that looked like a decorator’s dream living room with sumptuous black leather couches, exquisite rugs and spectacular sculptured floor lamps. (The jewelry, by the way, was presented after the visitor sat down and made himself or herself comfortable.)

The collection is being distributed in the U.S. by J.F.K. International, New York, N.Y. (212) 924-7243.

Jewelry design is a relatively new career for Californian Barbara Berk. But she says it represents the voice she’d been seeking for a long time: a way to express and integrate seemingly disparate experiences and abilities in her work. After acquiring a master’s degree in Russian history and spending 15 years in advertising sales, Berk one day discovered the lure of jewelry. She combined her liberal arts background and her sales abilities to help launch the short-lived JEWEL, America’s first consumer magazine devoted exclusively to jewelry and gems. She also sold jewelry — from traditional fine to estate and antique to contemporary art pieces. Since her interests lay primarily with antique jewelry, she pursued gemological studies and bench courses, intending to buy, sell and appraise period pieces. But a funny thing happened in the classroom: Berk discovered she actually liked working with metal more than she liked assessing other artists’ work.

Berk has an unusual approach to jewelrymaking. She begins by weaving a metal “fabric” in 18k and 22k gold sheet and wire, by hand and off-loom. She then manipulates the flat material into a three-dimensional sculptural form. Soft, feminine, floating waves and ribbons are Berk’s trademark. Her pieces are reminiscent of bygone eras, with precious hatpins and hair sticks holding her brooches in place on a jacket or in a pompadour. Other pieces such as earrings and bracelets adorn today’s thoroughly modern women.

Barbara Berk, P.O. Box 8061, Foster City, CA 94404; (415) 349-4137.

CLUELESS

Does the “Y” chromosome undermine the ability to accessorize?

Even though the Corporate Casual revolution is in full swing, many men still don’t get the hang of it, says Diane Mattioli of GQ magazine. Corporate Casual does not refer to the torn and paint-splattered clothes worn at home or the spandex shorts worn while biking. A certain amount of decorum is advised in any situation, along with appropriate accessories.

You can help your male customers to look a cut above no matter where they work — formal or casual — by suggesting appropriate accessories. And men need your help because they’re just now learning what women have always known:that one perfect accessory turns a non-descript outfit into a personal statement, says Mattioli.

Watches are available to match formal, casual and any other point on the fashion spectrum. Statement-makers also include some obvious choices — such as tie tacks and cuff links — and some less-obvious choices– such as fine belt buckles, pens and cigar clippers.

Look in this column next month for a full report on GQ’s latest study — hot off the press — showing sales figures of the rapidly growing men’s jewelry market.

A PICTURE PAINTS A THOUSAND WORDS

GoldenGraphics Inc., New York, N.Y., has created the PicturePendant, an exact engraving from a photo onto a 14k gold pendant. Color or black-and-white photos may be used; they are returned intact, along with the pendant. Eight sizes and six shapes are available for engraving. 1261 Broadway, Suite 302, New York, N.Y. 10001; (212) 447-9791.