Fashion Facets

SEEN AT THE CRAFT SHOWS

Natural forms, high karat gold and organic shapes were the biggest design trends in jewelry at both the Philadelphia Buyers’ Market of American Crafts (Feb. 9-12) and the American Craft Enterprises Craftfair in Baltimore (Feb. 27-March 3). The two shows are primary venues for many goldsmiths and artisans who produce either one-of-a-kind or art-to-wear jewelry.

These shows differed noticeably from other recent jewelry shows in their lack of focus on the ubiquitous “Y” necklace. Though fashion jewelry artists at both fairs did offer the style, the fine jewelry artists by and large did not. Some proffered dainty, diminutive pieces, but most preferred a larger, bolder, more rugged look.

NEW DESIGN FINDS

English designer Pam Keyser has found some lump of coal. Actually, she’s handled more than one, and they’re not really coal ­ they’re black diamonds.

Keyser is fascinated by the mystery and power attributed to natural black diamonds. They’re very rare, exceptionally hard, non-shiny and difficult to cut. But modern techniques such as laser cutting make them more suitable for jewelry applications. Keyser’s 18k and black diamond jewelry line evokes the rugged, raw feel of diamonds and the earth in a natural, unspoiled state. Her images are a powerful antithesis of the 1980s glitz and glamour, but they have a compelling beauty all their own.

Keyser earned a degree in three-dimensional design from Epsom College of Art and Design in London in 1981. Since then she has taught and worked on a number of private commissions and successfully launched a women’s clothing design and manufacturing company. She started her black diamond collection in 1995.

Keyser explains that true black diamonds are sealed from outside light and their structure is more complicated than that of other diamonds. Their opaqueness is caused by dense concentrations of black inclusions, probably graphite. They’re found mainly in Brazil, southern Africa and Zaire.

Famous black diamonds of history include the Black Orlov, whose origins are viewed with some skepticism but which sold at Sotheby’s New York for $90,000 in 1990. The stone weighs 67.50 cts. and is described as being a dark gunmetal color.

Other famous black diamonds include the 202-ct. Black Star of Africa, supposedly one of the largest colored diamonds in the world, valued at $1.2 million; The Amsterdam, which is remarkable because it is totally opaque with no gray spots; and a 54.63-ct. black diamond owned by Zvi Yehuda, developer of the fracture-filling process, that is on loan to the Harry Oppenheimer Diamond Museum in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Pam Keyser, Tenchleys Cottage, Limpsfield Chart, Surrey, RH8 0TD, United Kingdom; (44-1883) 722-144, fax (44-1883) 712-831.

Laurence De Vries, who is fascinated by structure, proportion and space, finds great design influence in architecture.

De Vries brings to his jewelry designs a wealth of varied experience. He studied law and architectural design and has worked as a dealer of medieval weapons and antique scientific instruments. His design sensibilities were refined during a year of travel from Paris to the Burmese border, through Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nepal.

He also designed fashion accessories as an outlet for his interest in the intimacy of self-expression through personal adornment, be it a courtesan’s silken robes or a warrior’s armor.

By the 1980s, De Vries found himself increasingly interested in mathematics, astronomy and physics, especially motion, equilibrium and balance. It was then that he began to create objects and jewelry that capture the laws of physics and geometry. His collection has been displayed at various galleries and Bergdorf Goodman in New York City.

Laurence De Vries Studio, 207 W. 16 St., New York, N.Y. 10011; (212) 633-1074, fax (212) 924-4930.

TOTALLY DISTASTEFUL

Mouth piercing is not only considered ugly by mainstream standards of beauty, it also can be hazardous to one’s health, warn dental experts. Rings, small barbells and other “jewelry” items worn in the tongue, cheek or lips can lead to loss of taste, permanent numbness and even strokes (blood clots can form when the tongue is pierced), according to a recent article in The Chattanooga Times. Not to mention the fact they can crack teeth.

OY, VEY

Many people in the jewelry industry have probably picked up some Yiddish, even if unintentionally. Now jewelry designer Leslie Manas of Jean Designs, Philadelphia, Pa., has compiled a humorous book titled Yiddish For Everyone.

The 48-page book is divided into nine categories of language expressions to explain states of being, gastronomic distress (or ecstasy), people, places, things, and other ways of communicating in Yiddish.

If you plan to stay in the jewelry industry and don’t know the infinite permutations of the word oy, you might want to check out the book. Send $15 plus $2 shipping/handling to Elle Em Productions, 704 Sansom St., Studio 411, Philadelphia, Pa. 19106; (215) 922-2680.

WHAT AN ANGEL

Lazare Kaplan International and fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi have teamed up to launch Mizrahi’s “Angel Rings,” tiny ring pendants featuring Lazare Diamonds.

The pendants were unveiled recently at Saks Fifth Avenue’s flagship store on New York’s Fifth Avenue. The platinum and diamond necklaces are inscribed with a microscopic Mizrahi and Lazare signature for proof of authenticity.

IT HAD TO HAPPEN

The Grunge Set, once famous for turning pierced noses up at luxury goods, now embraces such names as Gucci, Fendi and Hermés.

Scores of young consumers are combing vintage and second-hand stores for designer goods; those with more pocket change are snapping them up at stores such as Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue, says Women’s Wear Daily. Some of the must-have pieces: $275 chunky loafers and $325 hip-hugger pants from Gucci, $500 minibags from Fendi and $800 zip-front dresses from Prada.

WWD says the reason is twofold:

  • Some of the “Old Guard” are modernizing their look (Gucci under Tom Ford is a prime example) as they recognize the need to reach out to a new generation of consumers.

  • These consumers are getting a bit older and moving toward more sophisticated looks.

The same can apply to jewelry. While older customers have the financial ability to buy major pieces, younger customers can be helped to appreciate fine jewelry with fresh, wearable designs that relate to their lifestyle.