CUT & COLOR – A DIFFERENT HUE
BY MAIA ADAMS, ADORN INSIGHT
Maia Adams of jewellery market intelligence agency Adorn Insight examines consumer demand for colourful design with a graphic aesthetic, and explains why, when it comes to jewellery, topaz is the perfect fit. www.adorninsight.com
Interesting things are happening in the world of jewellery right now, particularly with regard to colour (where we are seeing a move towards intense and unusual hues) and silhouette which, in contrast to the long-running vogue for barely-there minimalism, has taken a turn towards bold composite structures and geometric forms with pattern at their core. In part, these shifts can be attributed to the influential millennial consumer. Exposed to similar trends in related sectors including interior design, architecture and fashion she is becoming more experimental in her tastes, using unorthodox choices as a means of telegraphing her individualism. As these ideas filter into her jewellery edit, gemstones are a fantastic vehicle to convey her ideas through colour and form.
Fotocredit: Getty Images/Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho
With its broad spectrum of hues, topaz lends itself perfectly to this emerging aesthetic. Most commonly colourless it can be found naturally in hues ranging from red, through oranges and browns to blue. Given the rarity of some of these colours, however, the cost of natural gems can be prohibitive, and to date a combination of heat and irradiation treatments have been used to induce and enhance colour in natural stones.
As the growing interest in transparency and ethics around gems and metals indicates, there is a niche but growing trend for consumers wanting to make informed choices about their jewellery. This is having the welcome effect of encouraging jewellery brands to explore new avenues and to implement educational strategies. As Gary Roskin, Executive Director International Colored Gemstone Association, says: “If the treatment is disclosed properly, the person purchasing the gemstone feels more comfortable and confident knowing everything about the gem.”
Swarovski’s environmentally friendly Thermal Color Fusion (TCF™), used to color topaz, is one such example. Offering a broad range of hues through the application of a colouring process which excludes radiation treatment, not only does it furnish designers and consumers with a wide range of on-trend colours (including variants that resemble more costly gemstones such as pink diamonds and sapphires) it presents an alternative product in which colour does not impact cost or raise concerns.
For designer Sarah Ho, Swarovski’s blue topaz plays a central role in her Mari Splash collection:
More recently, as the AW16/17 ready-to-wear shows came to a close this month, it was fascinating to note, amongst the traditional autumnal palettes, the emergence of a saturated spectrum of juicy hues on catwalks as diverse, and influential, as Gucci, Vivienne Westwood and DSquared2. In New York, Cynthia Rowley ticked both cut AND colour boxes with a rainbow-hued, kaleidoscopically faceted backdrop.
Unsurprisingly, given the domino effect of trends, we are seeing a raft of multi-coloured and unusually cut pieces hit the jewellery world too. The ever-directional Repossi has explored the potential of coloured metal alloys, most recently launching intense violet and fuchsia versions of their Berbère collection. Dior’s playful new Granville collection – a kooky clash of mismatched gem cuts and colours unveiled at Paris haute couture week – introduced the look to the conservative world of high jewellery.
As well as its wide-ranging colour spectrum, the columnar nature of topaz’s crystals makes the gem a superb contender for eye-catching cuts. Elongated shapes such as pears, ovals, and emeralds predominate, but this versatile stone is increasingly enjoying a place at the heart of a renewed interest for so-called fantasy cuts where facets within the gemstone can create optical illusions and refract light. Buff top cuts (where the table is left smooth and all the faceting is underneath) and intense faceting allow the carving to become the hero of the design.
As with colour, this surge in the craft of proprietary cuts and hand-carved stones speaks to a desire for solutions that offer something different, as well as a return to the authenticity of artisanal skills which adds interest and value.
With its cabochon dome and facetted body, Swarovski’s Puresse Cut for Genuine Topaz demonstrates the boundary-pushing results that can be achieved with innovative faceting. Combined with dramatic colour it shows just how powerful a well-judged topaz can be in the quest for self-expression.