A week in Vegas is an unbearably long time to spend in such an indescribably foreign place. I felt as if I would never make it to the third and final jewelry show, Couture. By the time I stepped foot in the Wynn, my depleted energy resources were restored by the sunlit space underneath the cheery canopy of colorful flowers in the lobby. I migrated through the casino to the jewelry-filled ballrooms for my last hurrah of jewelry before departing on the red-eye.
While I wish I had had more time to peruse the overwhelming number of designers at Couture, I only had time for a few. On the whole, I observed several trends that pervaded the collections of many designers.
Entry Point Pricing
The first very clear trend was the demand for more entry point priced lines (under $1,500), affordable jewels for the young professional woman buying for herself. For many designers, the low price for this category clearly restricts creativity. The result of this demand is two-sided: providing an accessible fine jewelry product to the next generation consumer while at the same time constricting the range of design variation from which to choose as well as limiting the individual designer’s unique aesthetic. Most 18k gold pieces were understandably small in size and differed only slightly from the next, while those made in 14k, 10k or gold plate were more diverse and creative. Micropavé ear studs, small gold chains with a single diamond or a charming pendant, similarly fashioned chain bracelets as the necklace, and thin gold rings with a flourish or two. The other issue that designers face is the compromising of quality in order to keep costs, ergo prices, down. This is an on-going challenge for fine jewelry designers in the contemporary space, one which I hope will continue to grow and innovate over the next few years.
One significant trend that emerges from the entry point jewelry is that of stacking. Collections of rings, necklaces, and bracelets of varying thinness and minimally varying design were devised with future stacks in mind. Instead of buying several pieces at once, the consumer can gradually build upon and customize their unique stack of rings or bracelets or chain necklaces with cute little pendants – ideally from the same designer. Some ring designs even appear to be a stack of many but are really just the single ring, effecting the same look with one purchase. Layering jewelry continues to be a fashionable look and these lower priced pieces meet the growing demand of young consumers. Essentially, today’s designers and brands are increasingly focused on building a young customer base and growing with them by offering of-the-moment jewels at modest prices that can be acquired over an extended period, adding to the stacks one jewel at a time.
No Ear Left Behind
Expanding on the earring trends of last year, no surface of the ear was forgotten between the latest collections at Couture. Ear cuffs, ear jackets, ear climbers, ear shields you name it, the ear has it. Every earring trend ever could be found in multiples, even mismatched earrings, asymmetrical earrings, front-to-back earrings, single earrings and of course the traditional styles of earrings. What new earring style will designers think of next?
A Kaleidoscope of Gems
The traditional gems of yesteryears have been eclipsed by the technicolor dream jewels of the present. Consumer demand for jewelry set with gems of every shade of the rainbow has sent prices for multi-colored spinels, tourmalines, garnets, sapphires, and the like sky high. The color of the stones has become an integral part of the design, if not the main attraction of it. For nature-inspired jewels, realistically hued gems bring the designs to life while monochromatic motifs were sparkling studies of a single color. Diamonds are still omnipresent, for that hint of glint, but vibrant color abounded everywhere this year.
More Than Your Average Ring
Just like the earring trends, rings have been on a trendy kick lately. There is a ring for every inch of every finger, it seems. Between-the-finger rings remain as omnipresent as ever while designs for midi-rings, two-finger rings, and full-finger rings upped the finger bling ante. As mentioned earlier, stackable rings are also oh-so-hot right now.