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Jewelry Designers

It Takes Two

Manhattan­ based decade-­old company Vale Jewelry has a unique feature in its two founders: they are identical twins. Ava and Eva Bai, despite their shockingly similar names, have very different personalities, which allows them to blend styles in a way that only enhances their products. After earning degrees from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as FIT post­graduate work in metallurgy and gemology, the dynamic duo decided to go into business together, creating pieces that have been worn by celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker, Miranda Kerr, and Lena Dunham ­­ just to name a few.

As children they busied themselves with lanyards and beads, but they have long since swapped those materials for significantly classier options.  In the face of trends these days that lean towards bulkier jewelry, their style is distinctly understated: it has been called “super­fine” and usually consists of very thin chains and lines. Some people have argued that their jewelry is too small to hold buyers’ interests… but those critics are easily silenced by the broad fan ­base that the Bai sisters have attracted over the past decade.

Two “moonlet” pieces ­­ crawler earrings and a ring ­­ are made of equidistant round diamonds bezel­ set in 14 karat gold.  The ring, a perfect symmetrical band, contrasts well with the earrings’ irregular semicircle shape.  Even finer is the large open bangle with diamond slices (rather than round cuts) on either end of a gold wire so thin it seems to disappear on the wrist. The style is clearly understated, buts its two creators don’t feel the need to make their gold loud; the delicacy of their design makes a quiet ­­ but powerful ­­ statement of its own.

With an Open Heart

New this year is the jewelry line “Open Hearts”, inspired by actress and designer Jane Seymour. The collection is a very personal one, admits Seymour, who developed the first necklace of the line in honor of her mother. The design consists of two hearts connected at the tails, with the most prominent feature ­­ and the basis for the collection’s title ­­ being the missing slivers that leave each heart lacking a small part of its outline. These hearts can be arranged in any of a variety of ways: from chains of repeated rose gold linked hearts to diamond necklaces, where a single “open hearted” design is encircled within a standard heart shape.

In honor of Mothers’ Day, which is quickly sneaking up on us, Kay Jewelers is offering a few mom­specific pieces for a limited time: necklaces, charms, and more that have the word “mom” fixed somewhere along the piece. (In true “hearty” fashion, the “O” of “Mom” is, of course, always crafted with a heart.)

According to Seymour, this style has featured in much of her work, including paintings for the American Heart Association. Her mother had lived by the counsel of keeping her heart open to giving and receiving love. This advice is something that Seymour always took ­­ well ­­ to heart. The pieces of her line offer both elegant design as well as poignant sentiment, which make them the perfect gift for an appreciated mother… or anyone else!

What’s a Guy to Wear?

One place you’ll be sure to find some great pieces is David Yurman, a company that provides an excellent selection of goods even in an area that often gets neglected — namely, men’s jewelry.

Along with some things you might expect — like sleek cufflinks or military tags — David Yurman also has a wide variety of collections exclusively for the male population. These include lines like Chevron, Streamline, and Faceted Metal, all aptly named for the products they encompass. The Chevron Collection boasts a triple¬wrap of black braided leather that closes via a magnetic clasp of sterling silver.  The Streamline Collection comes in a range of colors, like the Heirloom Signet Ring, a sterling silver squarish band set with a rectangular gemstone of either jade, black jade, or pietersite. (The ring is also sold without a stone, leaving just the smooth silver facet as its surface.)

The most variety, however, may come from the Faceted Metal Collection, which brings an ‘edgy’ dimension to jewelry. The multi-edged metal cuff topped with 18-karat rose gold has simplicity that gives it a clean, contemporary feel. Another companion in the line is made of silver lobster claw shapes that each clasp the end of another to form a sharp, funky bracelet. If you’re a guy who feels left out of the jewelry market, David Yurman is a great place to get in on the action!


Ooh La La in Paris

Every season the House of Givenchy joins the Paris Fashion Week for its ready-to-wear fashion show. This Fall, things got pretty interesting in the jewelry department. Ten-year Creative Director Riccardo Tisci caused quite a reaction when his models walked the runway wearing not only septum rings (a nose ring piercing between the nostrils) but an added assortment of gems glued up and down his models’ faces. The process took hours to set up, and the finished product included embellishments like pearls, emeralds, and rubies. To pay homage to his Victorian inspirations, Tisci also utilized an oft-used 19th century mineral to affect Victorian signs of mourning. Tisci specifically sought an over-the-top look with his gems; a couple of the nose rings were so large that they dipped down over the lips and around to the cheeks like a handlebar mustache, a shape mimicked by the models’ front bangs, slicked against the forehead.  For one model, the rest of the ensemble included almond-shaped black gems beneath the eyes and large round crystals on either side of her lips, as well as another small piece at the dimple of her chin and up and down either ear.  Another replaced her counterpart’s black stones with white pearls for a brighter, though equally innovative, look. Tisci calls the look “Victorian-chola”, a tribute to the 19th century and to the Latin American style he brought into his design. The many celebrities in the front row — including Amanda Seyfried and Katy Perry — seemed quite interested in what Tisci had to show, so perhaps we’ll see this new style emerging on the next red carpet!

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The new trend among earring wearers is something people are calling ‘Askew Crew’ — that is to say, mismatched jewelry on either side of your face.  This style takes various forms — from different colors to different sizes, even single-earring designs that leave one ear completely bare. Maybe the next time you lose an earring, instead of pocketing the other one, you can make your own statement by leaving it in!

Some of the most well-known designers have decided to get in on this action, like Louis Vuitton, Betsey Johnson, and Oscar de la Renta. Louis Vuitton has gone all out, with a whole array of single studs from the Monogram Idylle collection. They offer simple four-petaled flowers encased in a thin-rimmed circle, dangling from a single round diamond, a piece that comes in one of three shades of gold (white, yellow, or pink). This earring can be worn as one of a set, but it also is a great statement piece as a single earring or as a mismatched pair with one of the other golds. Another option is the asymmetrical Monogram Resille, with one thin-petaled flower inscribed inside a square while its partner, a round-petaled flower, is inscribed in a circle.

Betsey Johnson takes a more playful perspective, like their mismatched partners of the Ear Cuff with Arrow: one, a silver star-shaped stud with a single diamond core, and the other heart-tipped arrow that dangles, the entire head encrusted with ten small diamonds. Oscar de la Renta, meanwhile opts for a bolder imbalance with its Swarovski Crystal Ear Cuff. Created for only one ear, this three-piece set includes separate pieces for the upper and middle part of the ear, as well as a single pearl for the lobe. If none of these feel right for you, there’s plenty more where each one came from. After all, this new wave is just getting started!

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Last week marked the launch of Nikki Erwin’s new jewelry collection, Established.  Nikki Erwin, who until now was known for her extensive handbag brand Donatienne, has decided to branch out in the fashion market. The event was hosted by actresses Erin and Sara Foster at Soho House in West Hollywood.

Erwin’s collection is made up of 14 karat and 18 karat pieces that Erwin describes as a blend of “edgy and sexy”. Pieces include a diamond torpedo necklace, pyramid dagger earrings, a “Thug Life” chunky gold ring, and many others.  Some, like a necklace in the shape of a razor blade, are studded with diamonds. Others call on religious symbolism, like the evil-eye diamond bracelet.  Although this is Erwin’s first line, she has been designing jewelry on an individual basis for nearly a decade. The recent choice to come out with a complete collection wasn’t so much of a decision as it was a natural progression.  She found herself with a sudden “influx of creativity” that simply developed into a fully functional jewelry line.  The results of this influx — well, they speak for themselves.

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Joseff Hollywood, part 2

After Eugene Joseff’s untimely death in 1948, his wife Joan filled his role in all his companies (including Joseff Precision Metal Products, which built aircraft and missile parts) until her own passing only five years ago.  With almost ninety years in the film business, Joseff-Hollywood accrued quite a collection of jewelry… not to mention an equally boastful collection of anecdotes to match!

For a trio of thieves in 1942’s The Jungle Book, Joseff created a swirling red and gold armor breastplate with faux gold faces, all studded with rhinestones. Due to the considerable amount of jumping and wrestling during scenes, the colorful rhinestones would come loose, forcing the crew to pause several times a shoot just to replace them.  In 1963’s Cleopatra, Elizabeth Taylor had the famous snake belt designed for her — a thick gold rope clasped by a coiled snake with an emerald crown in its head constructed specifically to her body. Enough changed between the day of measurement and the fitting that by the time Joan Joseff returned with the belt, it was 2½ inches too small. Elizabeth Taylor insisted Joseff had measured incorrectly and although Joan knew the truth (after all, she was known for her meticulous cuts) she didn’t argue.

Like her husband, who crafted heavily ornate jewelry for 67 royal children in Anna and the King of Siam as well as thousands of pieces for a treasure trove in The Jungle Book, Joan enjoyed the hard work for its own sake. Their devotion and determination to their trade are likely what carried Joseff-Hollywood to the top during Hollywood’s Golden Age of film. They left behind quite a legacy and a wealth of ornaments, each with its own glittering history.


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