Fashion Facets

SILVER FOR THE UPTOWN GIRL

You heard it here first: after seemingly endless seasons of unwearable grunge and waif looks, fashion is heading back to being grown up and dressed up. The Silver Information Center says that in keeping with the trend, sterling silver jewelry &endash; which has been known of late for its streetwise downtown style &endash; is traveling back uptown.

Watch for silver paired with karat gold, precious stones and pearls for a classic look that’s affordable, versatile and high style. Also look for highly polished sterling collars, beaded chokers, bold rings, button and door-knocker earrings, links, bangles and cuffs. Charm and ankle bracelets are making a comeback, too. You may even see an oversized corsage brooch blooming across a tuxedo lapel, topping the shoulder of a satin dress or accenting the waist.

The shapely silhouettes of fall call for strong accents, so midsize to larger sterling jewelry is best. Also look for accessories such as chunky belt buckles slung low at the hip or cinching the waist.

HI, HO SILVER, OLÉ!

In the sterling collectible market, Mexican silver is hot, according to the Silver Information Center. The market emerged in the 1940s when hundreds of silversmiths set up shop in Taxco, Mexico, and sold their pieces to the burgeoning number of tourists.

Today, Mexico’s silver tradition is still going strong, producing and exporting $25 million of silver jewelry and objects to the U.S., up 50% since 1992. Especially popular are the designs of U.S.-born William Spratling and his apprentices, including Hector Aguilar, Salvador Teran and Los Castillo.

If you plan to pick up some sterling bargains in Mexico, be careful, warns SIC President Linda Meehan. The bargain “silver” jewelry sold by beach vendors and border souvenir shops often is not silver at all, but a cheap gray alloy called alpaca.

Good quality and well-priced Mexican sterling silver jewelry is readily available in Mexico and the U.S.; it’s just a matter of knowing where to look. SICsays to buy from a reputable source and to look for these markings:

  • “.925,” which means sterling silver. The higher the number, the higher the silver content.

  • A stamp that says “Mexico” or “Made in Mexico.”

  • The initials of the manufacturer and the city where it was made (such as “T” for Taxco).

By the way, Spratling reissues are stamped with “T-24” and a circular Spratling hallmark.

NEW DESIGN FIND

Iranian-born Sharon Khazzam began to design jewelry only a few years after she came to New York at age 14. Though not yet a household name in U.S. jewelry design, she’s been busy racking up experience and awards.

She has won the Swatch Watch design competition held at the Fashion Institute of Technology inNew York City, the Citra Pearl contest for necklace design, the Outstanding Achievement Award from Zale Corp. and a first-place award in the 1993 De Beers Diamonds Today contest.

Khazzam graduated from F.I.T. in 1984. She subsequently worked as senior designer for Zale Corp. in New York, directing in-house and freelance design teams to produce jewelry distributed to more than 1,200 retail stores. In 1986, she became the sole in-house fine jewelry designer for Asprey, New York. Then two years ago, she struck out on her own.

The Stitch Collection, her first handcrafted jewelry line, comprises 14 ring styles available in platinum and 18k gold, plain or set with white, yellow and pink diamonds. She says the stitch design was inspired by the active and diverse lifestyle of women who appreciate daytime comfort and classical elegance in one piece of jewelry. “I believe fine jewelry is like fine art and is made simply to provide pleasure for the wearer,” says Khazzam.

Her rings encompass a variety of design combinations, such as platinum stitches in yellow gold for day, pink gold with pink diamond stitches for evening. Khazzam likes to set colored diamonds in the same color of gold to enhance the unique qualities of both.

Now Khazzam is hard at work on the next stage of the collection: coordinating hoop earrings and cuff bracelets with the same stitch theme.

Khazzam’s collection is available at Asprey, New York. Sharon Khazzam,Custom Jewelry Designer, 135 Dupont St., Plainview, N.Y. 11803; (516) 349-8351, fax (516) 829-3439.