Fashion Facets

BLOSSOMS TO BEAT BREAST CANCER

Mikimoto’s new limited-edition Cherry Blossom Collection of pearl jewelry commemorates the friendship between Japan and the United States. It debuted March 25 at Mikimoto’s Fifth Ave. store in New York.

The evening was a benefit for breast cancer research, a cause to which Mikimoto is committed. The firm donated one $10,000 check to the Nina Hyde Center for Breast Cancer Research at Georgetown University Medical Center and another to the Evelyn Lauder Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The benefit was cosponsored by Vogue magazine (an advertorial featuring the collection ran in the magazine’s April issue). Estee Lauder also donated samples of its “Pink Ribbon” blush and lipsticks, named for the pink ribbon symbol of the fight against breast cancer.

The collection was on exhibit at the store for two weeks. A portion of all sales during that period and during the evening in-store event also was donated to breast cancer research. The collection then became available for purchase at other fine jewelry stores around the country.

Cherry Blossom is a collaboration by designers and craftsmen from London, Paris, Tokyo and the U.S. All pieces are 18k gold with Mikimoto cultured pearls and other gemstones.

GEMSTONES, ROLLING STONE AND A HIDDEN CAT

Wayne Louis Werner is a relative newcomer to the designer jewelry market, but his jewelry already is known in rock ‘n’ roll circles. It even won a Grammy, so to speak.

Werner, who lives in Baltimore, looks and sounds more like a rocker than a jeweler. The slim, denim-and-leather-clad designer with hair falling in his eyes has a laid-back manner and jokes about things like the lack of trade-show hotel space. (“Guess it’s back to sleeping in a VW microbus!”) Many of his private commissions have been for well-known rock bands.

Werner started in true hippie fashion, by following the Grateful Dead and selling his silver rock ‘n’ roll jewelry outside their concerts. At the time, he was creating some designs of 1960s album-cover artist Rick Griffin. The Psychedelic Shop, a well-known rock paraphernalia shop based in San Francisco, featured his work in its catalog and, says Werner, “basically gave me the money to start.” That and advertising in Rolling Stone magazine helped Werner develop a name for his silver.

Werner learned metalsmithing at the Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts in San Francisco and by apprenticing himself to Doug Irwin, guitar-maker to the stars. Irwin’s guitars – a favorite of the late Jerry Garcia – feature precious metals inlaid into exotic hardwoods. Werner met other famous rockers through Irwin and over the years created jewelry for such artists as Jack Bruce, bass player for the band Creem, and blues musician Luther Tucker. But he’s especially proud of three platinum, gold and sapphire rings he created for Blues Traveler. Members wore the rings, which feature the band’s cat logo, at the Grammy Awards in March.

Werner is a close friend of John Popper, Blues Traveler’s lead singer and harmonica player. Years ago, he created a custom silver cat ring for Popper. That ring played a central role in the music video of Conquer Me: when a child found the ring in a trash heap and put it on, magic happened. That ring was stolen, but Popper later ordered another. This time, he said, “I want to sell platinum records, so I want a platinum ring.”

When Blues Traveler was nominated for a Grammy Award, Popper celebrated by giving his band members similar rings. The night of the Grammys, Werner told Popper and the others to touch their rings together for luck. Yes, they won – beating out U2, The Eagles, Led Zeppelin and Dave Matthews for Best Rock Performance.

But the story has another chapter. Werner, who is captivated by things mysterious, vowed that if Blues Traveler won the Grammy, he’d commemorate the event by making another platinum cat and hiding it. It will be somewhere within the U.S., says Werner; riddles and clues in magazines and on album covers will help solve the mystery.

Werner was inspired by the English book Masquerade by Sir Kit Williams. It told (in riddles) of an 18k gold and sapphire rabbit hidden somewhere in England. Werner says the final riddle, “I am 6 of 8,” clued a woman to the tomb of the sixth wife of King Henry VIII, where she did, in fact, find the treasure.

As for Werner’s platinum cat idea, here’s the first riddle: “It may gain life and fame through an ailurophile.”

EASTERN GOLD

A new design book called Evocative Gold – An Asian Renaissance illustrates the themes, inspirations and history of the native gold jewelry designs of Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Peranakan culture of the Chinese Straits.

Modernized and westernized lifestyles are one result of the drive for economic affluence in Southeast Asia. Cellular phones join rickshaws on busy city streets, while Western style seems to define modern gold jewelry. But interest in gold jewelry designs that encompass native traditions also continues.

Rapid growth of the gold jewelry industry prompted the World Gold Council in the Far East to launch a project to convert traditional Asian motifs into contemporary gold jewelry. One result is Evocative Gold. It features more than 1,000 pieces of jewelry, showing how the region’s rich heritage flows from the two chief cultural influences of China and India. Each country has a unique approach to design and uses a variety of distinctive symbols.

In Korea, design has a refined simplicity and a naturalness, especially in themes taken from nature, such as leaves, clouds and grapes. Soft and bold curved lines are used. The smooth flow of line is typical of Korean architecture and symbolizes the connection between heaven and earth. Animals like the crane and dragon are expressions of good luck, fortune and longevity. Symbols like temple bells, masks and the lotus have spiritual meaning, while the yin and yang are deeply rooted in Korean philosophy.

Most of Singapore’s designs are based on Chinese culture. The approach is naturalistic with evenly balanced forms. The design collection depicts peonies, fish, orchids, pomegranates, ducks, butterflies, deer, dragons and the double phoenix, all symbols of prosperity, longevity and good fortune. Also featured are stylizations of auspicious symbols, including certain numbers or shapes.

Peranakan, a vibrant culture that spread from Singapore to Malaysia, was shaped by Chinese, Indian, Malay and Victorian influences. Design shows over- ornamentation, with intricate decoration and super- imposed techniques deriving from the mixed cultures. Motifs include Chinese-influenced peonies, temple roofs and lanterns, Indian swans and peacocks, Victorian roses and garlands and Malay foliage and flowers.

Indonesia is made up of thousands of islands and cultures. Designs are inspired by its world-famous batik art and by a historical heritage that can be seen in woodcarving. A strong spiritual dimension appears in designs which depict symbols of fertility and supernatural power.

Thailand’s all-pervasive spirituality inspires its designers. The Thais have a sense of freedom, a gentle disposition, a devotion to Buddhism and a respect for tradition. Designs feature stylized flames, flowers and leaves in repetitive form. Themes include the typical pagoda shape, mythical creatures like the naga and flora and fauna such as pine cones, lotus and chrysanthemums.

The book costs 170,000 lira (approximately $107) and may be obtained from Studio Daniela Invernizzi, author and consultant to the World Gold Council, Via Guilio Romano 31, 20135 Milano, Italy. Tel. (39-2) 5831-5913; fax (39-2) 5831-8367. It also will be available at the World Gold Council booth at the VicenzaOro 2 fair, June 8-12, in Vicenza, Italy.

TEACHING DESIGN AT IJO

Jewelry designers Richard Rothenberg and Ronna Lugosch conducted the first-ever workshops on designer jewelry held at an Independent Jewelers Organization seminar/buying show. Nearly 200 retailers turned out for their one-hour sessions during the February event in New Orleans. They explained what designer jewelry is; how it differs from generic jewelry; why it is important for the independent retailer (improves image, sets the store apart from competition); how to buy, display, light and promote it; common misconceptions; and, of course, how to sell it.

The workshop was so successful that IJO plans to repeat it at the fall buying show in Toronto, with Jose Hess joining Lugosch and Rothenberg. In addition, Rothenberg and Patricia Daunis will conduct the same workshop at the Ohio Jewelers Association’s Columbus Jewelry Show in August.

PREPPY JEWELS

Two national brands are adding fashion jewelry lines. J.G. Hook, New York, signed a costume jewelry licensing agreement with Darlene Jewelry Manufacturing Co. of Pawtucket, R.I. J.G. Hook, known for affordable classic clothing, expected to release the line of tailored classic jewelry in time for the May market for fall 1996. Etienne Aigner, New York, known for equestrian-inspired burgundy leather goods, has signed licensing agreements for a wide range of accessory products, including fashion eyewear, jewelry, fashion apparel, luggage, fragrances and cosmetic bags. The jewelry license is with Danecraft Inc., to manufacture timely and wearable fashion jewelry designs.

DESIGN FINDS

German-born Cornelia Goldsmith has always been fascinated by the idea of making jewelry that reflects her inner visions, yet allows the wearer to derive his or her own meaning.

“My studies of religion and ancient culture gave me an understanding of the search every culture struggles with on its quest for the deeper meanings in life,” she explains. “At the same time, my interest in jewelry was further strengthened when I realized the importance jewelry played in such societies.” Cultural values and spiritual ideals are usually reflected in a society’s choice of adornment.

“I felt inspired to design jewelry which combines artistic values such as simplicity, harmony and beauty together with diverse symbols derived from nature. I believe it is essential to find an aesthetic balance between artistic creativity, spirituality and craftsmanship. I feel the techniques I use are merely a tool, likened to something like language, whereas the designs of the pieces themselves communicate the ideas, inspire the wearer and touch the soul.”

Goldsmith was educated at the Hochschule in Kiel, Germany, and the University of Hamburg. She continued her jewelry studies in the U.S. at the Cecilia Bauer Studio and the Jewelry Arts Institute (Kulicke-Stark Academy), both in New York. Goldsmith works in high karat gold, often using granulation, and also has a line of contemporary silver jewelry.

Cornelia Goldsmith, P.O. Box 1494, Sausalito, CA 94965; (415) 332-0802.

Mary Anne Richman of MARS Design began her studies in the arts at Johannesburg College of Art in South Africa. After graduating in graphic design in 1979, she went to work at an ad agency, then moved to the United States in 1986. Prompted by her love of fine jewelry, she took a series of metalsmithing and casting courses in 1993. Eventually, she developed a line of one-of-a-kind pieces.

Her extensive travels through Africa, Europe and North America have brought the influences of many cultures to her work, much of which evokes a primitive feeling. She is inspired by organic images and the tactile qualities of her materials and techniques.

“Balance is the key to my pieces. The balance of color and shape, both amorphic and geometric; the balance of textures, both natural and mechanical; and the balance of media, including sterling silver, 22k gold bimetal, freshwater pearls and gemstones – all find a sense of fusion in my finished pieces.”

MARS Design, 241 Fifth St., Cambridge, MA 02142; (617) 868-6044.

Rebecca Myers, winner of the 1996 American Jewelry Design Council New Talent Contest, will receive an all-expenses-paid booth at the July Jewelers of America show in New York, N.Y. Myers’ winning pieces were from her Egyptian Series and her Signature Series.

Her designs feature a dramatic contrast of textured, high-karat gold surfaces with metal inlay and bright gemstones.

“Rebecca’s work stood out among the best field of finalists I have ever seen for this competition,” says Alan Revere, chairman of the AJDC competition. “Her jewelry designs are original, the craftsmanship is impeccable and the overall look is sensational.”

“I feel an artist’s work is a window into their interests and personality,” says Myers. “Jewelry and other wearable arts are a decorative feast for the eyes.” She says her creative inspiration is “rooted in an amalgamation of ancient cultural identities as well as more current design theories.”

A cum laude graduate of the Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, Myers began creating her own line while working as a goldsmith/designer for a local jeweler. She is now based in Milwaukee, Wis.

Akiyo Matsuoka, an honors graduate of the Parsons School of Design, began her career with an assignment to design the Escada 1994 spring/summer and fall/winter collections. By 1995, she’d struck out on her own, and has had a variety of jewelry design commissions from costume to high-end companies.

Her signature look is sterling silver with a touch of 18k gold and natural colored gemstones such as peridot, aquamarine, citrine, tourmaline and amethyst, often combined with pearls. Each design is inspired by nature and named accordingly: “Flora,” “Morning Dew,” “Pebbles,” “Spring Buds” and “Passion.”

Matsuoka was a finalist in the 1994 Diamonds-International competition. She will launch her collection at Premiere Classe, the accessories trade show in Paris in October.

Akiyo Matsuoka Design, 395 South End Ave., #21C, New York, NY 10280; (212) 912-1246.