The color boom that is taking place in everything from evening gowns and accessories to home furnishings has led to a revolution in the way colored gemstones are being used in jewelry design and manufacturing. Gems previously considered unusable for ﬁne jewelry, such as heavily included, translucent or light-hued gemstones, rough cuts and small stones have now become not only acceptable but desirable, even in a period of economic recovery. Nowhere is this new sense of creativity more evident than at the Vicenza and About J shows in Italy.
Top manufacturers and designers at this show exhibited an emerging trend within this gemstone trend, however. In order to differentiate their products from the anything-goes mass of colored gemstone jewelry out there, some companies have taken it up a notch, focusing on large sizes, highly-saturated hues and top clarity values. Extremely ﬁne gems are rare, and there is competition for the top stones, which carry prestige for those who can attain them. The trend-setting exhibitors at the exclusive Vicenza and About J shows are demonstrating a move back toward the higher end.
While smaller, lighter, medium quality gems are still dominating jewelry design (and nobody works with this material to greater design advantage than the Italian manufacturers – give them a lump of coal and they will create something beautiful), exhibitors at the September Vicenza and About J shows demonstrated the beginnings of a swing back toward ﬁner quality, larger sized and more precisely cut gems.
For example, Damiani exhibited some beautiful center amethysts surrounded by violet sapphires, as well as some important ruby and emerald pieces in its Regina collection. Staurino’s Paraiba tourmaline bracelet of calibrated marquise cuts made a stunning contrast to the lighter colored gems that have dominated recently.
Some traditional gemstones have not simply returned to popularity in the same traditional forms, but often in new conﬁgurations. Carved shell (in the form of cameos and intaglios) and coral are making a comeback, but with modern motifs and mixed with other gemstones. Some ﬁne examples of carved coral mixed with pink sapphires were exhibited by Massimo Borriello, which specializes in carved coral.
In terms of designs, rings and cuffs set with multiple mixed gems are still popular, but with the return of large central gems, pendants have begun to emerge as important pieces, as have cocktail rings and earrings with large center stones.
In this era of color, you can’t go wrong with jewelry containing any gemstone or combination of gemstones, in any size or hue. As the economy recovers and people begin to covet something more unique and precious, larger, more saturated, more precious stones will be getting more and more attention. Gem dealers and jewelers with the best sources will capture the market.
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