Forecast

JEWELRY STYLES FORECAST

From Vogue to Vanity Fair, from Elle to Town and Country, the consumer magazines were filled with jewelry throughout the fall season. Your customers read these chic, high-fashion magazines, and chances are that what they see is what they’ll want. Just in case you were too busy to read the popular magazines during the holiday season, here’s what your customers will be looking for this spring:

  • 1940s Retro – Articles on Madonna, anticipating the Christmas release of her new movie/star vehicle Evita were much in evidence (she made the cover of Vogue and Vanity Fair – even before the birth of her little girl!). Look for the ’40s style jewelry Madonna wore in every photo to hit the streets soon. From big cocktail rings to skinny, ladylike watches, from big brooches (à la postwar Tiffany designer Jean Schlumberger) to Chanel-style opulence in Big Three colored stones, the ’40s are hot. These styles were much in evidence in jewelry advertising as well.

  • 1970s style – Just when you thought we were safe from the ’70s, they’re baaack! From low-slung Gucci belts (see “Buckle Up,” pp. 104) to mesh chain neckwear, big cuff bracelets and drop pendants on silk rope, the jewelry matches clothing’s return to the Age of Halston. Look for a variety of take-offs on Elsa Peretti’s popular diamonds-by-the-yard style: long, long chains with stations of diamonds and other stones, pearls and beads.

  • 1920s romance – Anticipating the return to frills and feminine style due this spring, jewelers and fashion editors continued to feature pearls at every turn, especially South Sea and Tahitian black pearls. Platinum and diamonds, another style flappers adored, turned up in several fashion layouts and on Hollywood stars.

  • Consider beads – Though not traditionally a jewelry store product, opulent bead necklaces featuring less-expensive stones such as coral, turquoise and amber made impressive statements on models and actresses.

  • Nature, again – From Asprey-inspired flower brooches in lovely blues, yellows and greens to birds, bugs and butterflies, Mother Nature is still around if fashion magazines are any indication. Still-life editorial features and advertisements keep them on your customers’ radar screens.

  • Ancient-inspired hangs on – The grace and aristocratic charm of ancient motifs kept them popular, especially among advertisers. Much in evidence were coin styles, lava cameos and intaglios.

  • Silver – For the “dreaming of gold” crowd, there was a lot of designer silver to whet the appetite and make the poor in cash feel rich in spirit.

  • Classics will always be with us – Formal necklaces with repeating styles – such as drop pearls, gold swirled links and diamond pavé – added classical style to fall layouts. Cartier Tank-style rectangular watches, tricolored bangles and rings, and mabé pearl earrings feel like a relief, especially after witnessing the return of the ’70s. Use these to reassure your conservative clients that no matter the trends, some styles never die.

HOT, HOT LONDON

Think English jewelry is all fusty antiques or about as mouth-watering as British cooking? Think again! London has always had a definite niche in the fashion scene, even if it’s been overshadowed by Paris and Milan in recent years. (Remember Carnaby Street and Mary Quant Mod as well as Savile Row.) The U.K. also boasts an impressive selection of beautiful, wearable contemporary designer jewelry. Perhaps the U.K.’s most well-known export of such is Elizabeth Gage, but JCK prowled the streets of London this past fall in search of more. Just look at what we found!

STEVEN WEBSTER

“Fine jewelry is the ultimate decorative accessory and personal design statement. It should have a breath of the exotic, of the far flung treasures of the earth. As jewelers, we squander these precious resources unless we sculpt them with the highest craftsmanship and deeply considered design in equal measure.”

This statement sums up the philosophy of goldsmith Stephen Webster, a Briton not unknown to American connoisseurs of rare gemstones. Webster, who in his own words “refuses to be constrained by the restrictive color palette of the traditional jeweler,” uses a vivid collection of gemstones, often carved and textured. He carries his love of texture into gold and platinum, using the metal by itself or combined with gems and even enamel.

Webster began goldsmithing in 1976 in a preapprentice course at Medway College of Design in England. He trained at Saunders and Shepherd in London under Tony Shepherd, formerly Prime Warden of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, then studied under John Donald, one of Britain’s most respected jewelry designers of the time.

By 1980, he was in business for himself and, with his reputation already building, was commissioned to set the De Beers Diamond Stakes trophy. Shortly thereafter, he moved to Canada to run a small studio workshop. He had returned home by 1984, but maintained a following of clients across North America. He won three American Gem Trade Association Spectrum Awards and a Johnson Matthey Platinum Design Award in the U.S. and four Goldsmiths Craft Council Awards in the U.K. He’s a partner in Silverhorn Jeweler of Santa Barbara, Cal., where his work is available, and he has exhibited in the Design Center of the JCK International Jewelry Show in Las Vegas.

Today, Webster has a thriving export business to North America and a growing customer base in the U.K

Stephen Webster at Silverhorn Jeweler, 1155 Coast Village Rd., Santa Barbara, CA 93108; (805) 969-0442, fax (805) 969-5535.

CAROLYN STEPHENSON

Carolyn Stephenson has designed fine jewelry since the 1970s. She trained at the London College of Fashion and the Central School of Art and Design in London, where she graduated with honors in jewelry design and manufacturing. After completing school, she set up a workshop, creating commissioned pieces for clients in Britain, Europe and the U.S. She also worked as a designer for several of London’s leading jewelry stores.

“My designs have been inspired by natural shapes and lines, creating soft and feminine forms,” she says. She works to achieve a look that is current for any fashion, yet timeless in its appeal.

By the mid-1980s, her love of fashion took her on a brief journey to the world of fashion jewelry, where she created a line that sold at Selfridge’s, Jaeger, Bruce Oldfield and other leading British retailers. But Stephenson has returned to designing in precious metals and gems, with an exclusive collection of 18k gold and gemstone designs. She works in partnership with Swiss-trained craftsman James Willi. Her design sense and his skill at the bench have resulted in a line of rings, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, brooches and cuff links that are classically inspired but have modern style.

Carolyn Stephenson, Two Clarendon Close, Hyde Park, London W2 2NS, U.K.; (44-171) 706-8472, fax (44-171) 706-8085.

SIMON BENNEY GERALD BENNEY

Simon Benney is the son of Gerald Benney, silversmith to the queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the queen mother and the Prince of Wales.

From his father, Simon learned the art of silversmithing and creating objets d’ arts, and from the Gemological Institute of America, he learned about jewelry design. In 1994, he combined his talents to open a retail gallery in London’s fashionable Knightsbridge section.

Father and son still work closely together. Though Simon is the force behind the retail operation and either may create any given piece, their catalog credits both for all design work. The Benney signature is a delicately textured surface, reminiscent of a feather, that creates a matte finish with an unusual radiant glow.

Most of Benneys’ silver flatware and hollowware collection employs the technique on the outside, with bright polished gold or silver inside. Benney’s fine jewelry collection is a mix of pieces in the same motif, with new items branching off into airy, nature-inspired designs in gold wire and gems.

Benney, 73 Walton Street, Knightsbridge, London SW3 2HT U.K.; (44-171) 589-7002, fax (44-171) 581-2573.

CATHERINE MARTIN

Catherine Martin, a former professional singer, credits her musical education with building the discipline needed to study kumihimo, the ancient Japanese art of silk braid-making. Martin survived rigorous traditional training in the ancient craft – it was how empresses and their daughters whiled away their time – and returned to the U.K. to apply her skills in a most unusual way: braiding metal, not silk.

She went part-time to Sir John Cass College in the U.K. to learn the rudiments of working in precious metals, but the originality of her idea to braid the metal itself was noticed and nurtured by her professors. Though her first works were rather humorously compared to a “mixture of Indian filigree and corn dollies,” she went on to earn the 1991 U.K. Platinum Award with her first piece of braid jewelry – a pair of slim, conical earrings. Now her work is in the permanent collection of Goldsmith’s Hall in London.

Martin’s roots in music are also apparent in her jewelry – not only does she braid to music (usually Bach preludes and fugues), but she always warms up like a musician, starting with silver before going on to gold and platinum. She says that a piece of metal, like a symphony, can be worked over and over and never quite finished. Catherine Martin, 100 Burghley Road, London NW5 1AL U.K.; (44-171) 267-8733.