Color Rules

January 1999


Color Rules

Blue and green will predominate this year, but don't rule out the reds, oranges and yellows. Imaginative cuts are key

F ive designers who work extensively with colored gemstones spoke with Professional Jeweler about colored gemstone jewelry trends in 1999.

Outlook On the Big Three
Quality, supply, demand and the use of enhancements are strongly influencing the future of sapphire, ruby and emerald in jewelry store sales, say experts.

Jewelry designers agree availability of quality larger stones is challenging. In addition "uniformity is difficult to find when looking for multiple gems to design around," says John Atencio of John Atencio Designer/Fine Jewelry, Denver, CO.

A possible solution is synthetic color, especially for uniform sizes. "Laboratory-created color gives the look of high-quality natural gems at reasonable costs," says Jill Zvaigzne of I.B. Goodman, Cincinnati, OH. Though some jewelers may balk at introducing synthetics, for certain price points, this may be the year to consider them. This is especially true for emerald, where ongoing investigations into enhancements and discussions on disclosure make emerald "too unpredictable" to work with, says Paula Crevoshay of Mellika, Albuquerque, NM.

Nevertheless, most designers agree the Big Three will continue to be a major force in jewelry stores simply because consumers know them best. But they agree this shouldn't stop jewelers from introducing other gems too.

The Reversible Celebration bracelet in 18k gold is set with 54 diamonds and flips to reveal multicolored sapphires and rubies. Suggested retail, $42,600. Matching ring available. Photo by Erica and Harold Van Pelt.
Aaron Henry Designs, Los Angeles, CA; (213) 623-4191, fax (213) 623-7891.

Cabochon Vietnamese rubies are set in this 22k gold pin pendant and circled with granulation.
Maija Inc., New York City; (212) 249-6236.






One-of-a-kind 14.82-ct. opal and 18k gold pendant is accented with 4.72 carats of sapphires, 0.51 carat of spinels, 0.48 carat of diamonds and 2.13 carats of moonstones.
Paula Crevoshay. Mellika, Albuquerque, NM; (505) 898-2888, fax (505) 898-3888.

Archer's Tokapi ring features 0.50 carat of diamonds and 9 carats of custom-cut tsavorites in 18k gold. Keystone, $18,378.
Barbara Taylor Fouts, Lafayette, CA; (925) 283-1881 or (925) 284-1697, fax (925) 283-1820.

On the Rest
A growing correlation between apparel fashion and the jewelry industry is driving a strong demand for the use of other colored gemstones.

Apparel trends educate and stimulate consumers to desire more colors than are available in typical jewelry stores. The deep blue and purple shades of iolite and tanzanite are growing in popularity, for example, as well as tourmaline and the other-than-blue versions of sapphire. These gems are relatively plentiful, making them accessible and affordable.

Trends for 1999
With fashion trends leaning toward monochromatic shades of gray and brown, clothing becomes a blank canvas for wearing jewelry. This year that canvas will be decked in blue (iolite, tanzanite, opal, aquamarine and sapphire) and green (peridot, tourmaline, tsavorite and green sapphire). "Blue will be the strongest," predicts Atencio.

Love Basket brooch features 16.15 carats of round white diamonds, 4.15 carats of fancy yellow marquise diamonds, 1.43 carats of emeralds, 5.33 carats of rubies, 9.08 carats of blue sapphires, 5.66 carats of yellow sapphires and an Australian South Sea pearl. The four central flowers are set en tremblant. Suggested retail, $140,000.
Designed by Ella Gafter for Ellagem, New York City; (212) 398-0101, fax (212) 302-0153.

Two-tone 14k men's ring holds a 10mm x 8mm barrel-cut sapphire with three diamonds on each side. Suggested retail, $654.
I.B. Goodman, Cincinnati, OH; (800) 543-1945 or (513) 241-1206, fax (513) 721-3833.


18k gold rings with brushed and bright finishes are sprinkled with flush-mounted 2-pt. diamonds. Ensemble features garnet, amethyst, tourmaline and rubellite in half bezels. Rings hold 0.50-10.0 carats and are $1,600-$3,600 suggested retail. The mounting alone is $1,200.
Barbara Westwood Designs, Monument, CO; (719) 488-8083.

2.56-ct. opal is surrounded with pink tourmaline, tsavorite garnets, amethyst and Paraìba tourmaline in this 14k gold ring. Suggested retail, $5,600.
Andrew Sarosi, Los Angeles, CA; (213) 622-3563, fax (213) 622-0859.

But don't forget red, yellow and orange, which are seen prominently in fashion magazines. Rhodolite and mandarin garnet, burnt orange citrine, yellow beryl and yellow sapphire burst with these colors. "Skin tone has a lot to do with selling these colors, and some won't persevere like blue and green," says Crevoshay. While each designer agrees orange will be the strongest, keep demographics in mind. Look at clothing accessory trends in your area to clue you in to what colors will sell in your store.

To help match these colors to skin tones, try offering jewelry with multiple shades in the same color family (reds and oranges, for example). "When using multiple stones in jewelry, many designers opt to use one color range," says Aaron Henry of Aaron Henry Designs, Los Angeles, CA. Such combinations also mirror monochromatic clothing trends.

Faceting Fascination
Unusual cuts will succeed if adapted to salable jewelry designs, say the designers. "But if lapidaries get too creative, the shapes can be difficult to set in consumer-friendly jewelry designs," cautions designer Barbara Westwood, Boulder, CO.

There's a growing acceptance of unusual cuts among consumers. However, your best bet may be classically styled jewelry with a contemporary cut, especially if you're just introducing a new style in the market. This gives the piece enough cutting-edge appeal without being too far out for conservative fine jewelry customers' tastes.

The Shape of Things To Come
In terms of shapes, the oval and cushion-cut are "in" and rounds have lost a little ground. Cutters increasingly focus on the inside – not the outside – of the gem, our experts observe. Different polishing features – such as checkerboard, opposed bar cuts and buff tops – are interesting alternatives. Will the square cut so popular in diamond jewelry designs extend to colored gems? Designers don't see it yet, but don't rule it out.

Finally, some designers predict the buff top (a cabochon-type stone but with a faceted pavilion) will become even more popular than the traditional cabochon. "With the look of diminutive jewelry, the cabochon has retreated into hibernation," says Zvaigzne.

The Precious Collection by Jack Abraham includes sapphire, ruby and emerald rings flanked with diamonds
Precious Gem Resources Inc., New York City; (212) 688-6700, fax (212) 688-2747.

This traditional ring is crafted in platinum with a 1.73-ct. sapphire and two emerald-cut diamonds totaling 1.05 carats. Keystone, $10,500.
Barnett Robinson, New York City; (800) 223-0240 or (212) 682-1086, fax (212) 682-1848.

14k gold ring holds a pear-shaped 3.5-ct. peridot with 0.16 carat of diamonds. Suggested retail, $350.
Izi Creations, New York City; (800) 448-4749, fax (212) 688-8976.

14k gold brooch is set with amethyst, aquamarine and diamonds. Suggested retail, $4,700.
Kim Koch Designs, Mequon, WI; (414) 241-8244, fax (414) 241-1360.

The spirited Elements Collection is made of sterling silver with 18k gold accents and colored gemstones. The black definition is achieved with an oxidation technique. Suggested retail, $135-$1,375.
John Atencio, Denver, CO; (303) 830-7733, fax (303) 830-0891.

– by Lorraine M. Suermann

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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