By Maia Adams, Adorn Insight
Whilst something old, borrowed or blue remains a good rule of thumb for selecting bridal jewelry, when it comes to capturing the modern bride’s imagination, “something new” is where things are really interesting right now. This is thanks, in no small part, to the emergence of jewelry fashioned from unorthodox materials which, in breaking with tradition, are injecting a welcome dose of dynamism into the bridal jewelry sector. In the wider jewelry arena, advances in manufacturing technology have spurred debate and experimentation around material innovation.
Fotocredit: Splash and Glassware Collection by designer Beau Han X, with Beau Cut™ Swarovski Zirconia.
Fotocredit: Diama Jewelry Collection: Signature
Fotocredit: Rings by Brooke Gregson Trapiche, as seen in Gem Visions 2017
Product designer Beau Han Xu wowed with his Splash and Glassware collection – conjured from a new form of hand blown glass and incorporating the specially developed Beau Cut™ Swarovski Zirconia. More recently, Alice Cicolini – a jeweler renowned for her use of traditional Indian craft forms – explored the role new technology might play in fine jewelry with a unique necklace featuring scent-infused 3D printed porcelain beads. On a commercial level, a raft of designer jewelry brands are broadening their repertoire with the introduction of non-precious metals, semi-precious stones and novel materials into their fine jewelry lines. From Repossi’s fuchsia pink gold Berbere rings to Pomellato’s Capri line with its pops of bright ceramic, unusual materials have revived designer jewelry and whetted consumer appetite for something a little bit different. One area in which this trend presents significant potential is among millennial brides who, with their sophisticated appreciation of brands that upend the status quo and their desire for individuality, are seeking out bridal statements that break with convention.
On the SS17 bridal catwalks gowns including an ombré blush confection by Christian Siriano’s and Theia Couture’s bodycon grey metallic sheath spoke to a more adventurous approach to Big Day dressing. Influential social media pundits such as The Knot and New York-based Stone Fox Bride – a “haven for stylish, mellow mamas” – offer inspiration and products for cool brides-to-be, and Instagram accounts dripping with unorthodox engagement rings, accompanied by the personal stories behind each proposal.
Fotocredit: Getty Images / JP Yim. Christian Siriano For Kleinfeld Spring/Summer 2017 Runway Show.
Indeed, from a cost perspective the use of non precious materials is a savvy option, and one which produces eye-catching results as demonstrated by Glenn Spiro’s titanium bands set with precious stones, Anne Cohen’s C6 collection made using lightweight carbon fibre typically used for civil engineering applications, Stephen Einhorn’s commitment rings made from silver and 2000-year-old wood, and Adolfo Courrier’s solitaires set in acid bright enamel bands.
Manmade diamonds such as Swarovski’s Diama – identical to mined diamonds in every way other than their laboratory origins – are making real diamond jewelry a viable option for young couples in search of affordable luxury. And unorthodox gemstones – semi-precious, rutilated, and in all colours of the rainbow – have hit the big time to such an extent that In China, having embraced the concept of the diamond engagement ring, drives are afoot by brands like Chow Tai Fook to introduce coloured gemstones to the wider market.
With sustainability in mind, recycled materials offer a winning solution to couples wishing to make more conscious choices. Monique Péan’s Minéraux bridal collection – inspired by her experience of creating her own engagement ring – is made with recycled platinum and gold. Additionally, the diamonds used in her rings are repurposed from antique jewelry and feature a variety of colours and rare cuts such as the trillion, waterfall and rose cut.
One final – and pleasing – upside to the vogue for new materials is the surge in couples commissioning bespoke rings from independent jewelers who, in belonging to the same peer group as their clients, have an instinctive understanding of their desire for original design. Inspired by just such commissions, British jeweler Rachel Boston launched Without Beginning, Without End – a capsule collection of alternative engagement rings featuring raw and included diamonds, each “with their own unique character as individual as the wearer themselves”. Fellow Brit Lily Kamper attests to the fact that pieces boasting a mouthwatering array of pearls, hidden rubies, coral, bi-colour sapphires, cat’s-eye and hessonite garnets have been commissioned for lucky brides-to-be who – far from following the rules – are breaking them with gusto and looking fabulous in the process.