Jewelry Fashion:  What is hot?

What’s hot in the jewelry world depends on fashion, but here’s a secret: it depends more on materials cost, availability and mine production than anything else. Just like car colors are marketed and sold to us, so are colors of jewelry. And styles often reflect cost. When prices are high, the real stuff gets pretty tiny, or full of holes.

Volume to the Max—It’s still the bigger the better! We have by no means seen the last of the chandelier earring, the extended dangle, the tire-sized hoop, or the layered bead and bauble look. Now we are seeing a lot of lacy, holey, and ferny sorts of styles in metals. This is largely because the price of gold is still fairly high, but my wholesalers have told me it is also because more consumers care more about saying something is gold than seeing if it is solid and sturdy. There are also great designs available because of the use of metal clays and 3d printing, but very often the amount of metals used is minimal.

Color Me Bright—No longer is it all about colorless diamonds and white pearls. High fashion jewelry, celebrity jewels, and red carpet bling are all starring naturally colored stones, diamonds and pearls in a growing range of hues, and accessory materials designed to catch the eye and draw attention. Emeralds, rubies, and sapphires are all working their way to the top as engagement and wedding jewelry, with more of the rare colors becoming popular than ever. We are seeing brilliant pink morganite (a beryl related to emerald) and stunning green aquamarines, as well as natural gold and purple pearls. This is a delight for ASJ, where our aesthetic emphasizes real gemstones stones and their natural colors.

Metal Mania—Your choices are no long just gold or silver. Many customers are going for platinum, which has long been a popular precious metal, but many more are opting for mixed metals including gold and silver but featuring titanium and niobium. Of these, titanium is certainly my favorite. So light it is used in airplanes, so strong it is used in space-craft, and so inoffensive to the human body that it is used in surgical limb replacements and additions (it is the safest metal in the periodic table next to fine silver if you have problems with contact dermatitis: see my article) titanium is now becoming much more popular in all sorts of jewelry.

Mixed Media—Modern jewelry is using more diverse materials in a single piece, and the premier pieces are showing new materials in ways we haven’t seen before. Recycled materials mixed with fine metals, plastics and resins with gemstones, and fine cut stones mounted on anything from wood to wool are now finding their way past art galleries and trunk shows into mainstream jewelry retail. We think our new Metallic Leather Rosettes are some of the best unique pieces on the market, featuring titanium hoops for lightness, fine silver for shine, gemstones and pearls for cache, and brilliantly colored metallic leather for eye-popping color, crocheted and hand-stitched for ultimate volume.

Slightly Snakey—Glitz is always good, but many designers are favoring snaking wraps that curl around the ears (rather than dangle from a piercing) and bracelets and rings that twine around fingers, arms and necks. We are way past the tight-jawed restraint of the 1990’s and early 2000’s minimalism and this viney look can be good for people with multiple piercings, ear stretched plugs, or who just like a non-traditional look. The problem I see is that these metallic snakies have to made with base metals in order to make them affordable. Although silver prices (and gold, less so) have dropped dramatically from their high 2 years ago, even coatings are still spendy. Anyone who has had contact dermatitis knows why I dislike base metal coatings and alloys (but you can read more here.) But mostly, I dislike these costume pieces because they are basically disposable. Coating chip, wear off, lose their shine, and gems and enamels tend to be glued on rather than actually set. I don’t actually mind that the quality isn’t great, but if I buy something I want to be able to wear it longer than a few months.

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