Fashion Facets

WHEN FASHION AND FINE BECOME ONE

Is it fashion jewelry or fine? With some of the newest pieces, only the wearer knows for sure. The pieces shown here demonstrate how designers have interpreted the trend toward delicate, diminutive styling in fashion jewelry. But while the look is fun, the feel is real.

Baguettes USA, Los Angeles, Cal., re-creates the fashion jewelry look similar to “Y” necklaces in oxidized 18k gold and diamonds with a Victorian feel (left) and two-tone 18k and diamond with an Art Nouveau influence.

New York-based designer Kazto interprets the popular tricolor stack ring look in a pinky style, translating a high-end look into delicate, affordable pieces.

GETTING CUFFED

Torrini of Florence offers a twist on jewelry for men: button covers for shirt cuffs. The “look-like-cuff-links-but-they’re-not” covers are $700 retail per pair in 18k gold and $525 in 14k.

The covers fit over cuff buttons of any standard men’s shirt and close securely. Women also may use the covers when they want the look of cuff links.

Decorations include engravings, gem inlay or enamel. Lynne Fitter of Torrini says corporations have even ordered them with their logos placed discreetly in the center.

CLOTHING DESIGN & COMMON SENSE

How did fashion designers negotiate the path from garage-salable to seriously salable clothes this season?

They acknowledged that women want to look neat and pulled together without too much fuss, says Bridget Foley, fashion editor of W magazine. Foley, who spoke at “Manhattan Gold: A Day of Fashion and Jewelry,” held Feb. 2 in New York City, says the Grunge look was destined to fail because women don’t want to look messy. Its opposite, Retro Glam, was not discreet enough for many. The Relaxed Chic of spring ’96 hits it right, she says, because it comprises a wearable palette of sensible, well-fitting, attractive clothes that fit a multitude of lives and needs.

There’s also a new emphasis on luxury, fabric that’s comfortable without being sloppy, clean lines and long slim skirts. However, the spring season isn’t without a few questionable trends, including some neon colors and wild prints reminiscent of the 1970s.

GEEK CHIC

The hottest fashion trend for juniors, according to Women’s Wear Daily, is anything their Baby-Boom parents wouldn’t have been caught dead wearing. Topping the list: “flood” pants, Hush Puppies, polyester shirts and mismatched plaids, prints and stripes – all worn together.

A 1970s-era high schooler would have been doomed to social exile for such fashion faux pas, but today’s kids have a passion for polyester. The geek chic trend hit mainstream junior and contemporary apparel departments for fall 1995 and has continued into spring, says WWD.

Some runway collections picked up on the trend, including those by Anna Sui and Todd Oldham. Buyers gave it a lukewarm OK, targeting it at lower price points for the junior department and/or choosing very selected elements for designer goods, such as shorter, snugger-fitting pants.

GOING CASIA;

Nearly the whole world has gone casual – or so it seems. A report in Women’s Wear Daily says the Casual Day concept has caught on at workplaces in major cities around the world, including such bastions of formality as Tokyo and London.

However, European casual isn’t quite as casual as American. In London’s financial district, for example, office casual means women may wear pants suits and men may wear sport jackets and ties. In Tokyo, men are venturing out of white shirts and into expressing their own taste.

Only Milan seems to be bucking the trend and dressing even more formally. But this is the city that practically invented the plaid sport jacket, so who knows?

NEW DESIGN FINDS

Christoph Krahenmann blends the subtle aspects of natural forms with the precision of architecture in his one-of-a-kind and limited-edition jewelry.

For men, he creates an original view of aerodynamic form and function, inspired by industrial design. For women, he softens the structure, relying on shapes and textures found in nature.

Krahenmann sharpened his technical skills and drew inspiration for his jewelry design career in his native Switzerland. After spending time in the Sudan, he returned to Switzerland and began a four-year apprenticeship under a master goldsmith. At the same time, he attended the Designe-Tradeschool in Kuswacht near Zurich. He credits design teacher Kurt Aepli with teaching him three basic principles that still guide him:

  • Always challenge yourself in technique and design.

  • Never quit exploring new directions.

  • Treat precious metals and gemstones with dignity.

Krahenmann completed this training in 1980 and – at his father’s urging to try new experiences and new countries – moved to the U.S. in 1981. He is a four-time first-place winner in the American Gem Trade Association Spectrum competition and a finalist in the Argyle Diamonds International Colored Diamond Competition. He opened his own studio two years ago in Santa Barbara, Cal., and now exhibits in Aspects Gruppe Design, the artisans’ collective exhibition at the Basel jewelry and watch fair in Switzerland and in the JCK International Jewelry Show in Las Vegas.

Christoph Krahenmann, P.O. Box 41826, Santa Barbara, Cal. 93140; (805) 969-5935 telephone and fax.

Jennifer Jiunta has plied her trade in several states and several industries.

The native Pennsylvanian began her jewelry career while studying at Drexel University in Philadelphia. After graduation, she continued her studies at the International Design and Marketing Forum in Milan, Florence and Rome and eventually studied with Italian designer Emilio Pucci.

Upon her return to the U.S., Jiunta worked for Barbara Ellick Designs, a specialty jeweler in Narberth, Pa.; later became director of product development and marketing at the Franklin Mint; and later still was director of new product development for Coach leatherware. She returned to the jewelry industry – albeit fashion jewelry – as director of licensing for the Smithsonian Collection by Monet, and now has launched her own business in Atlanta, Ga.

Her fine jewelry designs focus on platinum and black South Seas pearls. “It was scary launching my own business,” she says. “But I had a background in product development, so I took my ideas and my resumé to the bank, got financing, and here I am.”

Jennifer Jiunta, 1124 Longwood Terrace, Atlanta, Ga. 30324; (404) 634-4090.

The forms and textures of Kimberlee Teti’s designs capture the essence of nature.

Teti says her passion for jewelrymaking was instilled by her father Joseph, a longtime jeweler, and enriched when she lived in Florence, Italy, where she was captivated by the richness and dramatic scale of jewelry from the Italian Renaissance. That influence is apparent in her 18k gold rings with cabochon gems and channel-set diamonds.

Teti opened her own shop in Haverford, Pa., in 1995 to showcase her ever-growing collections. Her designs are crafted in 18k gold, 18k and sterling silver and platinum upon request and range from silver earring studs that retail for $72 to 18k and sterling silver link belts approaching $8,000. Her most popular pieces: 18k gold belt buckles on interchangeable straps in lizard, crocodile and other leathers.

Teti also offers a fresh, sexy and tongue-in-cheek approach to her jewelry, evident in bustier and garter-clad Bergeres cuff links for men and women.

Teti’s work is available in fine boutiques and galleries across the U.S. and in her shop at 369 W. Lancaster Ave., Haverford, Pa. 19041; (610) 642-0600, fax (610) 642-8656.

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 goodsl 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.

SELF-CONTAINED

“San Francisco” and “Atlanta” city skyline brooches are executed in 14k gold and diamonds by designer Andrea Saul. Approximate retail: $1,175 for San Francisco, $1,295 for Atlanta. These and other city skyline brooches can be created in gold, sterling silver or vermeil. Saul’s first designer collection featured miniature representations of works from the Art Deco period. Andrea Saul Jewelers, 655 Redwood Hwy. #308, Mill Valley, Cal. 94941; (415) 381-0449, telephone and fax.