Passion for fashion
By Bianca Mangion
Once shunned, now worshiped, fashion jewellery has made its mark - forever changing the market. BIANCA MANGION gets the goss on what's making trends this season.
At some point recently, the forward-thinkers of the Australian jewellery industry decided it was time to get fresh. They wanted to offer selections of precious, valuable, affordable adornment that were always changing to meet seasonal trends, leaving behind the tired, traditional styles of a bygone era.
Inspired by catwalk shows and social trends, modern fashion jewellery today offers accessible luxury to women and men of all demographics, much in the way a bottle of designer perfume does; and the sector has exploded.
An industry that was once apprehensive, even prejudiced, toward fashion is now fervently embracing it, happily reaping the benefits. In turn, fashion jewellery has evolved to add pieces of style, adaptability, attraction and value to jewellers' windows across the country. No longer the domain of cheap materials, fashion jewellery manages to be precious and in vogue.
Of course, a concerted industry push has seen the introduction of heavily-branded marketing campaigns designed to attract consumers of all ages who simply appreciate fresh style and constantly-evolving looks that match their apparel with eye-catching POS displays and deluxe packaging.
Yep, fashion jewellery is where it's at. "Just because the pieces are 'fashion jewellery' doesn't mean that they have no value," affirms Lara Hall, director of the eponymous fashion brand. "Retailers should display the pieces as they would any precious piece of jewellery - it's about creating 'perceived value'."
Hall says her jewellery embodies unique, fashion-inspired designs desired by style--conscious women, at an affordable price.
The concept of uniqueness to the wearer is central to describing this year's fashion jewellery trends and many fashion brands are offering new takes on the ever-popular DIY jewellery style.
Kameleon from Oro Collections is one such brand already experiencing success with compile-your-own concepts in the US and Canada, and hoping to emulate such successes here.
"Kameleon's base jewellery designs include rings, earrings, pendants, bracelets, necklaces and pins all configured to accept small interchangeable inserts called Jewelpops," says Marco Bracci, general manager of Kameleon distributor Oro Collections. "The Jewelpops are available in a rainbow of colours and materials and are able to migrate amongst the entire Kameleon jewellery collection."
Set with Swarovski crystal, lab-created opal and cubic zirconia, Jewelpops are aimed at women, teenagers and younger girls and can be mixed and matched to suit the wearer's clothes or mood.
"All of us share the basic desire to display our individuality, our feelings and emotions - to stand out from the crowd," Bracci says. "Kameleon's unique concept allows individuals to express themselves."
Other brands are advancing their range of compile-your-own pieces, adding complimentary components designed to fit existing styles.
Pastiche, for example, has introduced a new range of Mix 'n Match jewellery to use with Lovelinks and Petite beads.
"This range allows an exciting fusion of both ranges and enhances the opportunity to create one's own jewellery according to individual taste and style," says Ciara Ryan, head of design and marketing. "The possibilities are endless."
The new range consists of several interchangeable components. Six different silver pendant components and two gold-plated styles allow the wearer to make a complete necklace using anywhere from one to seven Lovelinks beads. In addition, two other styles of necklaces are available: a lariat or silver bar necklace can be used to mix both Lovelinks and Petite beads.
To complete the sets, Pastiche has introduced several sets of earrings in various hoop and dangle styles and these are available in sterling silver and gold-plated finishes.
The final item is a sterling silver ring that allows the wearer to change its feature bead regularly and match it to any Lovelinks or Petites item.
"The range can be worn by anyone as we have designed it in such a way that it can be tailored to the individual wearer," Ryan says.
Queen of individuality is undoubtedly Pandora. A visit to any of its new flagship stores allows one to see just how far this brand has come since the introduction of its cutting-edge charm bracelet five years ago.
"Pandora releases new-season jewellery in March and September each year," says marketing manager Jeff Burnes. "Beads, rings, earrings and necklaces are included in every new release and collections are often themed."
This autumn, a white enamel range with black zirconia accents is on the menu.
The new line includes two rings, circular stud and drop earrings and a pendant necklace. The range is also available in lilac enamel with white zirconia accents.
New white and lilac enamel beads tie the collection to the bracelet - customers can add one or two new enamel beads to their existing Pandora bracelet, necklace or lariat.
"High fashion is the inspiration for the enamel pieces," Burnes says. "Enamel is popular this season, with white, cream and black dominating both costume and luxury brands."
Another brand with its finger firmly on the fashion pulse is Georgini Collections. While DIY is not on Georgini's agenda, its new range is designed to compliment existing pieces, allowing wearers to neatly build their collection: "The beauty with Georgini pieces is that a piece from an older range will suit a brand new design from the new season's range," says Gina Kougias director, Georgini Collections. "Customers can add pieces to their collection and each piece will complement the other."
Elegance is the call of Georgini's day, with overseas trends closely observed: "The Georgini pieces are very European in style, and hence, always ahead of their time in the Australian market," Kougias says. Our in-house designer also draws inspiration from nature, with many of the pieces featuring organic, smooth lines; like our black swirl pendant."
Other standout pieces from the new collection include the bold, yet delicate Ivy cuff; an antique-style locket with a modern twist; and pieces incorporating the Greek key design, with black onyx or turquoise. These pieces come in matching sets.
As Kougias says, Georgini endeavours to create fashionable pieces that transcend time. Perhaps this is why Georgini appeals to a large demographic, with wearers ranging in age from 16 to 80.
Pandora also goes for elegance this season, adding to its gold and silver mixed pieces with a design that's based on a feminine mix of flowers and lace. Pretty, 14-carat gold flowers with diamonds at their centres, are used to decorate a wide, silver "lace" ring, drop and stud earrings and a pendant on an elegant black cord.
Flowers also bloom in the collections of other brands this season.
Najo's new range will see a bunch of floral emblems in luscious enamel colours and sparkling cubic zirconia. Indeed, the standout piece from the collection is a large, resin rose pendant and ring in red or black.
Najo releases two completely new jewellery collections per year, each having a distinct theme. Past themes have been cocktails, desserts, movie sirens and cities, according to director Jo Tory. All pieces are sterling silver with enamel, natural and synthetic stones, resins and titanium, but new materials are coming.
"Najo will be exploring new materials to combine with silver," Tory says. "Gold plate will be very big next season, with plenty of vibrant colours such as peacock blue and greens."
New materials are a common element for other fashion brands this season. Mixing precious metals with alternative materials is one way fashion companies are marrying affordability with value. Inori from Seriously Twisted is relatively new to Australia. Here for two years, it's only just starting to gain momentum in this market.
Inori uses surgical grade stainless steel throughout the range. This metal is hypoallergenic and never tarnishes.
Rebel at Heart from Thomas Sabo
"We also use physical vapour deposition (PVD) for the gold and colour coatings," says Seriously Twisted director Megan Wisheart. "Some pieces have cubic zirconia, while new designs use Swarovski crystal."
New collections within the Inori label include Erosion, which mixes shiny and matte finishes; Exquisite, featuring cubic zirconia; and Crystalice, which uses Swarovski crystal pendants as charms. Inori releases a new range twice-yearly.
Thomas Sabo is also using lots of cubic zirconia this season, albeit in black. Rebel at Heart is one of the charm brand's new collections: a unisex line of rings, pendants, earrings, bracelets, leather cuffs, cufflinks and key rings.
The collection also incorporates sterling silver, enamel, reconstructed coral, turquoise and rose quartz.
Designers Thomas Sabo and Susan Kolbli work collaboratively in creating each Thomas Sabo collection, drawing inspiration from international fashion shows and ideas from major cities and cultures across the globe.
"Rebel at Heart is for those who aspire to live life to the limit - full of passion, glamour and sex appeal but at the same time casual, charismatic and cool," says brand executive Helen Hagerty.
The flagship piece from the range is the Dark Butterfly pendant and brooch - crafted from blackened sterling silver, adorned with black, pavé cubic zirconia and stylised studs.
"This large but light piece is a favourite of Thomas Sabo and has proven to be a popular motif on international runways this season," Hagerty says.
Drawing from a totally different influence for its latest collection is SJ Jewels. Its winter range is called Priestess and references the Victorian era in which women draped themselves with extravagant lengths of chains, from which they suspended symbolic and often practical pieces of jewellery.
A different take on individuality and jewellery symbolism, Priestess features lavish Victorian-style links that can be combined with coveted tokens holding secret messages. A range of Victorian style chains, some with pearls, some with engraved links or charms, can also be layered together to create an opulent look.
These are matched with huge charm bracelets, featuring tokens of love, along with Faith, Hope and Charity pendants.
"Faith Hope and Charity were three young girls who were made into saints in the 16th century," says SJ Jewels director Sarah Jane Adams. "The cross represents Faith, the anchor, Hope, and the heart, Charity."
The hearts are also lockets, so one can add their own pictures.
"We believe that jewellery should be meaningful and representative of the wearer in some way, so each piece of the new Priestess range holds a message, some more evident than others," Adams says.
According to Adams, SJ Jewels always draws inspiration from Antique jewellery - the pieces echo the past - while also being perfect for today.
And common to many fashion jewellery collections, SJ Jewels designers believe fashion reflects a constant evolution of ideas, which also includes re-invention and new interpretations of ancient concepts.
"Although the SJ ranges are seriously fashionable today, we believe that they will remain timeless as they are inspired by tried and tested designs," Adams says. "It is for this reason of longevity that we use only precious metals and real gemstones and pearls in all of our ranges."
Is there anything fashion jewellery can't do? It can move fluidly with the whims of trends across the globe, while still being timeless and adaptable to past trends; it can appeal to all ages, while still allowing a wearer to express their own individuality; and it offers precious, valued metals and gems at affordable, collectable prices. No wonder women across the country have a growing passion for fashion.
Now all retailers must do is keep the fashion fire burning.
Posted August 17, 2009