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For All the Moms out There

Every year on Mother’s Day, millions of people express their gratitude for the women who had a hand in raising them. One of the most popular gifts of the day is jewelry — from bracelets to pendants to brooches to rings galore.  While anyone can appreciate a tasteful bit of bling, these commercial — perhaps repetitive — products may start to feel a bit trite year after year. But of course you may not want to sacrifice the quality found in fine jewelry for the sake of a more thought-out, personal gift.  Which is why this year, for Mother’s Day, you don’t have to! You can give your mom something tailored to her own unique spot in your life, a piece that expresses just how much she means to you while maintaining the elegant flair of commercial jewelry.

Kay’s offers a number of options to connect in just the right way. One piece is a Family Tree Necklace, a chain with stackable silver discs. (The customer can select anywhere from one to three discs per necklace.) The uppermost disc is engraved with a tree, and each disc includes a message of your choice. A similar option is available with a paw print or heart instead of a tree.

You can even customize your jewels without any words at all! Kay’s offers a number of rings and necklaces that allow the customer to add their choice of birthstones (as many as ten on one piece!). You can mount one stone for each of her children; what a perfect gift to a nurturing mother from those whom she loves most.

Best of Menswear

Come take a look at some of the most creative and timeless jewelry pieces in men’s fashion:

The first find is an eye-catching Royal Oak Offshore wristwatch collection. This line of timepieces combines function and design by allowing the engineering components of the watch to show through its face. They come in incredible, high-tech motifs while still maintaining a sleek look in gold, silver, black, and more.

If you’re looking for something a bit less traditional than something to keep the time, you may want to try the William Henry snake pendant. This serpentine creature is made of dull silver, giving it a rather edgy appearance. Designed with intricate scales, its head seems more like a dragon than a snake with eyes that pierce as deep as the fangs in its open mouth.

For a classy look that never goes out of style, you can’t go wrong with the Grand Band’s cufflink pairs. The options range from contemporary to traditional and come in a range of styles. For a minimalist vibe, Grand Band offers a pair of onyx cufflinks with one silver circles enclosed in a larger onyx one; for a grittier look the silver and cubic zirconia skull-shaped cufflinks. There are also more traditional pieces, like the plain rectangular pair engraved with a single “M” at the center. Feel free to take a peak and pick out something that speaks to you.

Meet the New “Clip-On”

Remember when you were a kid playing dress-up with your grandmother’s gaudy costume jewelry?  Back before you had your ears pierced, playing dress up probably meant one of two things: clip-ons or stick-ons.  The clip-on earrings were either too tight, pinching the lobe, or too loose, slipping off.  The stick-ons — round, sequined pieces of plastic that you peeled off sticker paper and onto your ears — usually lost its stickiness after the first few minutes.  Well, Paige Novick has something to ease that frustration… and her collection will certainly not get relegated to the far corners of a dusty old costume box in Grandma’s basement.  Her modern style utilizes a clever and sleek alternative for those without pierced ears: magnetism.

That’s right – with a brass foundation, the products are plated with 18 karats of yellow or pink gold, black rhodium, silver, and sometimes Swarovski crystals.  Her design style often applies opposing elements, like a merging of masculine and feminine features. In her Romy collection, she offers a rather bestial — yet still elegant — style: an elongated, fang-like front piece that juts downward in a slow curve while a twisted stud magnetically pins it through the back of the ear. It comes in either gold or gunmetal silver. Another dual element may be noticed in the magnetic studs found in her Lola line. The pair of triangular earrings embody both the sharp, simple traits of architectural mathematics along with the elegant, even ethereal glow of 28-karat yellow gold and rows of decreasing Swarovski crystals — a total of 37 per earpiece.  Novick seems to have done a great job of spicing up a genre of what could have become a relic of the past.

A Time for Cloisonné

Cloisonné is a French word that refers to an ancient and meticulously detailed technique for designing metalwork. This technique, which requires thin silver or gold wire strips to separate the object into compartments, has been used for clothing, weapons, and jewelry, among other things. From its place of origin — the Ancient Near East — this style traveled eastward, reaching China in the 14th century. The “compartments” (called cloisons) made by wire edges were filled with brightly colored gemstones and glass inlays or, in more recent eras, enamel. These inlays are made into intricate and ornate patterns that inevitably attract the eye. It’s not surprising, therefore, that pieces of jewelry with this design would fetch a heavy sum. Especially one that is also a timepiece, where this tricky design technique is made even more complex by the presence of the inner gears and outer hands that move along the watch’s face. A wristwatch made with a cloisonné dial is fairly rare. Even rarer — given this method’s frailty — is a cloisonné dial that is still in perfect, never-been-repaired, condition.

For these reasons, the 18-karat gold Rolex in Christie’s December auction of Important Watches attracted an impressive sum. The dial of this automatic wristwatch depicts an exquisitely colorful map of the Western Hemisphere, replete with fish and seagull shapes and daggers as well as a polychrome cloisonné compass in the bottom left quarter of the face. After an estimate of $200,000-$400,000 value, the piece sold in New York for $425,000. A great catch, according to Jeffrey Hess, who co-wrote a book about Rolex watches. Hess generally avoids offering advice to collectors about what to buy, but when it comes to cloisonné dial watches, he is more than willing to break his own rule. They are, as he explains, “the crowning glory of any collection.”

A Blast from the Past

If you’re seeking the newest in fashion trends, your best bet may be to look back at some of the “oldies.” Back in the sixties, a self-taught designer by the name of David Webb popularized the rock crystal quartz. This crystal comes in a range of hues, from completely transparent, to translucent, to cloudy and opaque. For the next two decades this stone was one of the most popular options in nonprecious gems and often got paired with materials as fine as diamond.

Well, it seems as if that crystal clarity is making a major comeback. The latest creations come in all sorts of styles. You can find more traditional pieces, like the simple Rock Candy earrings — clear quartz elongated teardrops outlined by 18-karat gold — or a sleek modern design like the Large Navette ring, an 18-karat yellow gold ring with a large, almond-shaped crystal dotted on either end by two small round diamonds. There is also a middle-ground of strong, personality-filled pieces: a large pendant upon which the crystal itself is encrusted with gold and silver stones.

While these crystals are still in style, make sure you root through your (or your parents’!) old boxes of jewelry to see what the sixties and seventies left behind. You won’t regret it!

Geisha Gold

Here’s a piece that’s worth a second look: Sylvie Corbelin’s pair of intricately designed geisha earrings. A long-time Parisian jewelry designer, Corbelin finds her work inspired by women in artistic professions, a path that led her to the geisha — or, as Corbelin explains, “a mysterious woman who dedicates her life to fine arts.” In fact, the Japanese word “geisha” literally means “artist.” Geishas are adorned with varying degrees of paints and makeup, depending on their ranking, a facade that the earrings mimic with sterling silver (rather than the white rice paint used in real life). According to Corbelin, the earrings seem to come with personalities of their own, so much so that they have names: Geiko, which often refers to a geisha specifically from the western Japan region, and Maiko, a word meaning an apprentice geisha (literally, a “dance child”).

In full geisha fashion, this dangling duo is clad in 18 karats of gold lined with rubies, emeralds, tourmaline, and turquoise to capture the spiced-up color of a geisha’s kimono. Each geisha earring also has a diamond-studded fan to give a “silky finish” to the ensemble.

These 4-inch long earrings will be showcased at the end of May in Las Vegas, priced at $25,000 — quite an success for Geiko and Maiko’s (not to mention Corbelin’s) career!


Wendy Yue

Take a look at one of Hong Kong’s most successful jewelers: Wendy Yue. Since its inception, Yue’s jewelry design firm has grown to become one of the city’s most renowned labels. What’s her secret?  Mostly, dedication and determination, not to mention a seemingly limitless abundance of inspiration. In fact, Yue creates a new piece almost every single day! In addition to her incredible rate of productivity (as if that wouldn’t keep her busy enough), Yue is also a mother of four children, including a set of twins, as well as a number of pets. And of course, let’s not forget hobbies: somehow she carves out time in her week to fix up homes and properties, a pastime she enjoys during leisure hours.

But even with this packed schedule, Yue clearly exhibits tremendous depth of thought in every single piece she creates. Her motif of choice is the bond between wildlife and human existence, after young adult travel across Europe left her utterly inspired. She decided the best way to capture those memories was in jewelry, an everyday wearable reminder — “an enduring monument,” as Yue explains — of her travels.

Her creations range from animal to botanical and even to the mythological. The Sacred Phoenix is an explosively vibrant ring, studded with jade; white and brown diamonds; pink, yellow, blue, and white sapphires; and tsavorite. Meanwhile, the Chimpanzee Wonder depicts in precise detail a pensive chimp out of mother-of-pearl; it is surrounded by sapphire, ruby, and jasper leafy branches and, on one side, a playful monkey out of brown diamond.

These beautiful creations have many other companion pieces, so be sure to check out more of her work!

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