Ascent of a Brand

Nina Ricci, a name associated with L’Air du Temps, billed as one of the world’s most romantic fragrances, has a new line of fine South Seas pearl jewelry. The line is produced under license by Asialuxe, Hong Kong. Announced in Basel, the jewelry introduction coincides with the 50th anniversary of the fragrance and reflects a theme similar to that of the perfume’s logo, internationally known by its crystal doves.

According to Philippe Vasseur and Bernard Alphonso – principals of Asialuxe and experienced professionals in the marketing and sale of luxury products – the new line is aimed at duty-free shops, fine jewelers, and better department stores with prices in the upper-middle end of the scale.

“Our goal is to make a luxury brand of jewelry that reflects the image of the designer and is affordable without sacrificing quality,” explains Alphonso. According to Vasseur, the high quality of the pearls plus the company’s exceptional connections in Tahiti, Australia, and Southeast Asia give the collection special appeal.

There are two major collections. L’Air du Temps depicts the signature doves in white and yellow gold accented with diamond pavé. Bow Knot features bow motifs in white and black mother-of-pearl matched with coordinating colored pearls. The line includes earrings, necklaces, pendants, and rings retailing from $350 to $1,500. Some limited-edition pieces go as high as $200,000.


A dominant trend evident in recent international jewelry shows is that jewelry is getting bolder, especially evident in the category of rings. Interpreted in all media – whether in gold and platinum with a single, large gemstone or in dome shapes encrusted with diamond pavé – these new rings are not for the faint of heart.

A Sleek Pen Gets Sleeker

Designer Jorg Hysek is a man with a mission – to make a functional pen in which the necessary elements don’t compete with the purity of the design.

The special bone of contention? The pen’s clip. According to Hysek, a clip gets in the way of the pure line of the instrument. But a pen without a clip often gets lost.

What to do? Redesign a pen with a separate holder that bears the clip, thus freeing up the pen to keep its clean, linear form. What he came up with was a leather holder containing the clip. When the pen is removed, its shape is smooth, tactile, and more pleasing to the hand. The leather holders and clips, on the other hand, are freed up to be bright and eye-catching, in a range of fashion colors and luxury leathers.

The Jorg Hysek line includes fountain and dipping pens, rollerballs, ballpoints, and pencils in a range of materials including smooth or ribbed carbon fiber covered with black or colored transparent resin, studded with diamonds in silverplate or sterling silver. Each pen is offered in a choice of nib sizes; retails range from $295 to $495, although sets adorned with diamonds, rubies, or sapphires can go as high as $18,000.

No Peacock Can Match This

T he Onagandori is a symbolic chicken figure in Japanese culture representing longevity and prosperity, and this magnificent sculpture demonstrates both qualities. Created by Tasaki Shinju, one of Japan’s leading pearl companies, it’s made of platinum and 24k gold set with diamonds, rubies, and coral. Its tail feathers are more than a yard long, consisting of 20,000 fine 3-mm to 6-mm cultured pearls. The design, shown at this year’s Basel fair, was produced in 1981 and took 30 craftsmen approximately six months to complete.

The Onagandori was produced to commemorate an exhibition on Kobe Portopia Island and to coincide with the year of the chicken of the Chinese zodiac. The sculpture was intended to bring further prosperity to the Port Island.

Jewelry without Jewels

A recent “Jewelry Without Jewels” exhibit in New York featured the designs of 11 artists working in sterling silver, colored gemstone beads, and thin sheets of mica as well as hand-painted polymer clay claws, glass beading, silk cording, steel cable, found objects, and safety pins.

“Preciousness is really a state of mind, not of substance,” says Laura Kruger, curator of the exhibit at the Elsa Mott Ives Gallery in the city’s midtown YMCA. “Non-precious metals, alternative matter, and innovative techniques are being used by visionary designers to create jewelry with an impact beyond the tradition of gold and gemstones,” adds Kruger, who is a former gallery owner.

The Ives Gallery supports six to eight exhibitions per year, with at least two devoted to crafts. All feature emerging artists and social themes.

A Marriage of Metals

New York’s Aaron Faber Gallery, a showcase for contemporary jewelry designers as well as a selection of estate jewelry and watches, recently featured a one-woman show from artist and teacher Glenda Arentzen.

Arentzen, known for her marriage-of-metals designs of copper, brass, and silver and her combinations of yellow, rose, green, and white gold, has been recognized as an important American studio goldsmith over her 25-year career. Arentzen’s work has won numerous awards and has been exhibited in the American Craft Museum and the Smithsonian Institution. She has been commissioned by both the Franklin Mint and Reed & Barton, and her jewelry can be found in the Japanese AIWA and Mexican Tane collections.

Her exhibit included 60 pieces of jewelry and six accompanying mixed-media artworks, which she said provided ideas for many of the pieces.

On view in the gallery’s second-floor hall from Sept. 10 to Oct. 17 will be an exhibition and sale titled “The Forest for the Trees: Modern Enamel Masters.” This colorful and imaginative show will feature all kinds of enamel objects, including fine jewelry and collectibles as well as home furnishings.