Your cheat sheet to the season’s most important diamond jewelry trends
Sure, diamonds come with built-in demand, thanks to the gem’s long-standing reign over the bridal market, but savvy merchants are always looking for ways to keep diamond jewelry collectors blissfully addicted. The best retailers know that the better the story behind the jewel, the more likely it is to sell. Here are five diamond fashion stories happening now and why you need to share them with your customers.
The Cut: Baguette
This lean, less-brilliant-but-chic cut is having a major moment. No longer are baguettes relegated to estate cases or used solely as accent stones.
“Everyone loves baguettes, but no one wants to see them set in the old type of settings,” says Northridge, Calif.–based designer Suzanne Kalan, whose Fireworks collection of baguette-cut diamonds purposely set in uneven patterns and silhouettes boasts nearly 300 SKUs.
Circle Short necklace in 14k yellow gold with 0.36 ct. t.w. diamonds; $1,800; Ilana Ariel, NYC; 212-947-2600; ilanaarielcollections.com
Incorporating varied sizes of baguettes into her designs gives finished pieces “a certain edgy look,” she says. “Using all the different sizes unevenly gives the impression that each item is unique and very interesting.”
Candice Pool Neistat of Finn in New York City started using baguette cuts four years ago in non-bridal jewelry. She was intrigued by “the challenge of designing recognizable jewelry with an extremely simple and restrictive shape,” says the designer. “The corners of a baguette really dictate the design. No matter how you use it, it will feel sharp and defined.”
New York City–based Ilana Ariel Sarna agrees. Although the baguette’s linear structure has a modern feel, accenting it with more brilliant cuts “keeps things exciting,” she says.
The Silhouette: Modern Cluster
Ring in 14k gold with 2.14 cts. antique rose-cut diamonds and 0.29 ct. t.w. rose-cut diamonds; $16,000; Mociun, Brooklyn, N.Y.; 718-387-3731; mociun.com
Today’s cluster settings look nothing like the round brilliant-cut sprays of the 1950s. Modern clusters feature mixed fancy shapes in whimsical configurations with great entry-level prices, thanks to their small-stone proportions.
Katie Diamond, of Ridgewood, N.J., says her signature style revolves around clusters because it was born from a love of estate jewelry. “I like to play with the scale of the stones, mix in colored stones, and use different stone cuts to reinterpret these styles in a modern way,” she explains. Retail prices for her pieces range from $750 to $2,200.
Based in Brooklyn, N.Y., Caitlin Mociun recalls her fascination with contemporary cluster jewels began when she bought a single stone and playfully surrounded it with smaller ones.
Magic flower ring in 18k pink gold with 0.38 ct. t.w. marquise-cut and rose-cut black diamonds and melee; $1,480; Elisa Solomon, Wyckoff, N.J.; 646-808-6791; elisasolomon.com
“These pieces are about how the individual stones work in a constellation with one another, in terms of color, size, and sometimes even texture,” she says. “With diamonds in particular, I never use just one color in a cluster—I use a range of diamond colors, sizes, and sometimes even cuts in a single piece.”
What’s more, today’s clusters help debunk traditional ideas about diamonds—particularly that they are only for engagement rings. “My clusters provide a new way of experiencing diamonds, especially for people who haven’t been attracted to them,” Mociun says.
The Cost: Under $3,000
The popularity of modern clusters and minimalist jewelry (often dusted with pavé diamonds) has expanded the selection of entry-priced options on the market. During the 2015 jewelry shows in Las Vegas, gold and diamond styles that retail for under $5,000—and especially those under the $3,000 mark—were at the top of many retailers’ shopping lists.
Diamond Sunrise Sunset ear jackets with 0.27 ct. t.w. diamonds in 14k rose gold; $1,165; EF Collection, Los Angeles; 323-952-6065; efcollection.com
For Los Angeles–based Zoë Chicco, items that retail for less than $3,000 constitute 95 percent of her inventory. Made in 14k gold with diamonds, Chicco’s urban looks, including bar motifs and lariat necklaces, were originally made to sell at clothing boutiques—“where the price point for jewelry is a bit lower,” she tells JCK. Now she sells to fine jewelers.
“Fine jewelry stores come to us saying their customers are looking for more price-friendly modern options,” she says.
Ditto for Elisa Solomon Kaplicer, of Wyckoff, N.J., who says that 95 percent of her inventory also retails for less than $3,000. The fact that Kaplicer’s styles are low-cost, however, doesn’t mean they are lightweight or lacking in compelling design.
“I don’t believe in paper-thin designs,” she says. “I have worked hard to…make sure that my line appeals to buyers for many reasons—higher-end, one-of-a-kind pieces and less expensive delicate pieces.”
The Styles: Modern Earrings, Stacking Rings, Chokers, Open Cuffs
Three-bar triangle open cuff with 1.05 cts. t.w. diamonds in 14k gold; $8,000; Paige Novick, NYC; 212-252-1441; paigenovick.com
The trends that dominated this year’s market week shows include ear climbers, ear stud and jacket combinations, the continuation of the stacking phenomenon for both rings and bracelets, chokers and Y-style necklaces, and open-style cuffs and rings.
Amanda Gizzi, director of public relations and special events at Jewelers of America, cautions that some of these looks will outlast others. She is not, for example, a big fan of ear climbers and cuffs—“They won’t have massive staying power, but their style will evolve to smaller versions”—but she is devoted to ear jackets. “They add versatility to studs and instantly transform a pair of simple earrings,” she says.
The Story: Ethical Sourcing
As most retailers know by now, millennials care about where products come from. Socially aware consumers want to know that neither the earth nor any miners were harmed to make the jewels they covet.
Stacking bands with 0.6 ct.–1.76 cts. t.w. black, pink, and white diamonds and baguette and old mine-cut diamonds in 14k and 18k white and rose gold; $1,375–$8,360; Sethi Couture,
San Francisco; 415-863-1475; sethicouture.com
Rio Tinto’s Diamonds With a Story line of designer-made styles featuring ethically obtained diamonds speaks directly to this socially savvy buyer. “Ethically sourced diamonds provide consumers with confidence in our products,” says Brandee Dallow, director of Rio Tinto Diamonds’ North America representative office. “Rio Tinto…is committed to transparency and integrity in the diamond jewelry supply chain.”
One of this year’s DWAS designers, Jennifer Dawes, has long championed ethical sourcing and knows firsthand that the phrase is more than just a buzzword. She cites client D&H Sustainable Jewelers in San Francisco as an industry role model. “They have built their business on the premise that the whole package matters—the jewelry, who made it, how it was made, and from what it’s made,” she says. “Jewelry is about feeling and love. The totality of that purchase should be reflected in the entire experience.”