Vicenza: All Elegance and Glamour

The Vicenza Fair in January, opening the season of spring fairs, always evokes great expectations. The start of a new year sparks the anticipation of new trends. And the Italians, masters at styling fashionable yet wearable jewelry, have an extra burden to carry concerning these expectations. Winter saw the arrival of a new opulence in women’s fashion. Classic elegance and ladylike chic on the one hand, and over-the-top, rich glamour style on the other, have arrived on the streets. Both marked a turnaround from the minimalism of the ’90s, and visitors were anxious to see what Italian designers had to say about the jewelry to go with these new trends.

The fair itself had some news to present. Hall G, which in former years hosted a rather mixed group of exhibitors, has been transformed into a new high-end hall hosting all the big brand names of Italian jewelry making. The machinery part of the show has been relocated to another building in the vicinity of the fair. This offered visitors a more concentrated look at the different sectors of the trade as well as a lot of stunning new stand designs.

But on the product side, genuine new trends were hard to spot. The uncertainty about business in 2001 and the slow Christmas season seem to have had a calming effect on designers. The result was a preponderance of white gold with pavé settings. This trend seems to be continuing mostly because of strong demand from the consumer side, which has in many markets only just begun to develop a taste for the white.

What can be taken as a direct tribute to the new trend of lurex fabrics in fashion is a new kind of brilliantly shining surface treatment. It appeared on many silver designs but also in white and yellow gold. When used in combination with smooth polished parts, it had an especially distinctive and contemporary look. Woven or crocheted effects also were in evidence. The sparkling surfaces certainly evoke a look of glamour, which suits the new style in fashion and design.

The trend toward yellow gold—now apparent in all segments of fashion, accessories, and design—appeared only sporadically in Vicenza. There were magnificent extra-wide bracelets in woven structures, reminiscent of the glamour and elegance of the ’50s, as well as the large, bold chain necklaces that were all but out during the ’90s. Both are back with a vengeance, a perfect fit with the sharply tailored suits and big hair of this year’s fashion-forward youth.

Necklaces have a distinctive style in 2001. The Y-necklace seems to have risen to the rank of a “new classic,” but a more glamorous option is the V-shaped necklace with its plunging center part. Then there are the big, bold chains with chunky links and wide colliers-de-chiens in shining soft meshes. Last but not least, the multi-strand necklaces consisting of fine chains in growing lengths are an everyday classic that will probably appeal to women as an accessory for the coming summer.

Rings were a big theme, too. Here the Italians showed their taste for color, sticking for the most part with their ever-favorites: citrine, amethyst, blue topaz, and peridot. Especially appealing for this summer is the combination of white metals with yellow stones, a fresh and very chic mix that is set to take the market by storm. It should go well with this summer’s fashion palette, where strong lemon accents play with coral red and turquoise on white. As purple persists—in fashion as well as interior design—women will probably be interested in buying amethyst, too.

Peridot in its fresh tone is for the daring and the avant-garde, and as an essential part of the color trends expected for winter 2001/2002, it is something to watch. The icy shades of blue topaz also go well with summer’s glamorous ’80s-style wardrobes. While these colored stones mostly come in white settings, the ultra-trend-conscious may want them set in yellow or even rose gold.

The palette of red and pink tones was another favorite theme in Vicenza, often used in pavé settings. The most up-to-date rings are surprisingly classic in style. The old theme of entourage was frequently visible: A large center stone with a modern version of stones set around it provided a distinctly classic look that makes such rings so desirable. For a sleek look, a large colored center stone in a bold setting works perfectly.

Susan Sagherian lives in Switzerland and is the author of Jewellery Trends 2000, a book that explains how social themes influence jewelry trends.