Jewellery trends go cheap and chic
By Bianca Mangion
A new trend has emerged among fashionistas. Big spending is out, and cheaper jewellery is in. As BIANCA MANGION reports, sterling silver makes the perfect partner.
Thinking twice before succumbing to the fickle whims of seasonal trends, today’s style-lovers are holding on to their clothes and accessories for longer before discarding them, or finding novel ways to get new gear – like clothes-swapping parties, where they meet with their friends to exchange pre-loved clothes and socialise, too.
The style-and-budget-conscious are also more closely scouring the racks of major discount department stores like Target and Big W, where the range of affordable style has notably increased. So much so that high-end brands like Stella McCartney, Napoleon Perdis, Zac Posen, and Morrissey have all created limited-edition lines for the stores.
“I’ll put my name on whatever is appropriate at the time,” Aussie designer Peter Morrissey told SMH upon the announcement of his new underwear range for Big W – to be launched in October. “It would be irresponsible to create (an expensive) collection when people can’t pay their mortgage. I haven’t become mass market, I’ve become humane.”
Jewellery is no exception. “Bling on a budget” or “bang for your buck” are the new catch-cries of many suppliers and designers who think it wise to offer timeless style at an affordable price. Of all the metals most suited to this, silver shines brightest.
“Silver has become a most sought-after metal in recent times, mainly due to its lower price point,” reports Julie Kiefel, purchasing and sales at XS Jewellery. “Now more than ever, customers are looking for good value and quality as the global economy continues to peak and trough. With silver, retailers can offer unique and fresh new jewellery in a precious metal, at comparable prices to fashion jewellery.”
Vina Lambert of Pinaroo jewellery – a supplier getting set to launch her new, self-titled branded range – aims to provide her customers with an affordable alternative to fine jewellery that she believes will last for years.
“Our range is selling to those who would normally spend on gold and diamonds because they look almost identical,” Lambert says. “These designs appeal to the fashion conscious on a budget.”
Also new to the sterling silver market – albeit on the retail side – is Magnolia Jewellery, an international chain store stocking only sterling silver. The Israeli brand has just hit Australia. With several stores throughout Sydney and Melbourne already, Magnolia plans to have 14 stores through New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland by the end of 2009 – perhaps signalling the viability of silver on these shores.
“Magnolia caters to fashion--conscious women looking for high quality, reasonably-priced jewellery to match day-to-day outfits,” says Nati Harpaz, CEO Australia, Magnolia Silver Jewellery. “During times of economic instability, people want to know their purchase is going to last, both quality, and style-wise.”
An offshoot of the global financial crisis has been higher gold prices – as more investors buy the yellow metal as a safe-haven investment. This, according to Kiefel, has worked in silver’s favour: “When higher gold prices occur, the trend often shifts to sterling silver as it delivers more bang for its buck.”
In what ways will sterling silver go off with a bang and draw renewed attention this season? What style trends are on the radar?
Georgini – whose pieces are all made from rhodium-plated sterling silver and hand-set cubic zirconias – will introduce its Goddess collection: “Inspired by the beauty, strength, wisdom and vision of mythical goddesses, Georgini has designed each Goddess collection to represent the attributes that we admire in today’s woman – the modern goddess,” says Gina Kougias, director, Georgini.
Accordingly, each of the collections is named after a different goddess. Isis is the goddess of vision and insight, and a collection featuring dark garnet cubic zirconia, set in black rhodium-plated sterling silver.
The Nikita collection – goddess of victory – features a tassled pendant on a long chain with black cubic zirconia baguette detail. Representing the goddess of strength and wisdom, Pallas is a range of rings, earrings, bangles and pendants that intermix with each other, all with a black and white colour palette. All pieces are designed in-house by Georgini designers.
Drawing attention to lobes is Mexican sterling silver supplier, Iron Clay with its range of long, dangly earrings. According to director Adriana Corti, the look draws on 1980s fashion, which is the focus of the entire summer range.
“We call it Eighties Chic,” Corti says, describing the collection as strong, with a geometric edge. “Wide, textured or cut-out cuffs, chunky rings, long necklaces, lots of twisted chains, clip on earrings and bangles will add texture to a simple outfit,” Corti describes.
Also going retro is Renee Blackwell, with her 1970s vintage ring – a flagship piece of her summer collection. According to Blackwell, the ring has been cast from an original mould from the early 1970s: “I bought these ring casts from a guy in Thailand who originally made them from brass. I changed a few details, but basically it’s a 1970s style taken-up a notch because it’s made from sterling silver. This has become my number-one, best-selling silver ring (without a stone) to date,” she says.
Blackwell will be focusing on earrings, too – including a new range of sterling silver danglers with “long stems for balance and to give the earring the desired look. Most of these earrings are on the ‘statement’ side – fairly large and bold,” she says.
Also turning to the past is Sybella Jewellery – a sterling silver supplier whose vintage-inspired pieces are all made from rhodium-plated sterling silver.
“Our vision is to develop a range using beautiful bows, butterflies, flowers, enamel, black agate, cubic zirconia and freshwater pearls,” says Sybella Morris, the group’s managing director.
Najo is also turning whimsical with its Fairytale Collection. The pieces include lavish charm bracelets with animal motifs, rings in pavé-set cubic zirconia (also in animal shapes) and over-the-top pendant and ring designs in rich enamels and coloured cubic zirconia.
“It’s jewellery that looks as if it comes from another time and another place,” describes Najo director, Jo Tory.
The range is comprised primarily of sterling silver, and enhanced with enamel, cubic zirconia, onyx and lapis. Along with Fairytale, Najo’s new collection is set for release this month, with over 300 new sterling silver pieces on offer, making for fresh-fashion looks.
Another supplier offering a sweet, playful collection this season is Thomas Sabo. The designer describes his Paradise Garden range as encapsulating “nature in all its pride and glory: graceful, playful, girlish and with a hint of seductive innocence”.
Sabo says the new series focuses on feelings of naturalness, untamed nature and summer liveliness with plenty of symbolism.
“The daisy as the symbol of innocence, the ripe strawberry representing sweet seduction, a delicate butterfly and dragonfly symbolic of the sensual lightness of being – all finished with real attention to detail,” Sabo says.
Paradise Garden is crafted from sterling silver and features a red-enamelled cherry pendant, a cloverleaf in rich green and a daisy with silver petals and yellow heart.
“A special highlight is the deep red-enamelled strawberry: it can be opened, offering a hiding place for precious secrets,” Sabo says. “The butterfly and the dragonfly have also been set with cubic zirconia.”
Offering a budget-friendly take on a popular trend is the other arm of XS Jewellery, Koodak Jewellers Supplies, which stocks a range of sterling silver “core-beads” that are an “economic addition to any of the popular charm/bead bracelet collection,” according to Kiefel. The 925 core beads are available with many coloured and patterned glass details, as well as solid sterling silver charm-like characters and spacers.
In addition to the charm range, Kiefel recently secured a range of Spanish sterling silver during her trip to the Vicenza fair. “This beautiful collection shows fine attention to detail with dynamic design, coupled with the use of natural gemstones, such as amethyst, aquamarine, black/white onyx and rose quartz,” describes Kiefel. “Laser cut-out earrings and pendants form the basis for a fluid and cohesive range.”
Also bringing international trends to Australian shores is RJ Scanlan with a branded German sterling silver collection entitled Sueno (meaning “dream” in Spanish).
A contemporary range of sterling silver jewellery, with most designs available in matching sets of pendants, earrings and rings, each Sueno piece combines a textured finish with a polished finish.
“Sueno has two releases each year,” says Stephen Brown, general manager, RJ Scanlan. “The release in July 2009 will feature many designs of flowing, cylindrical forms, with onyx and cubic zirconia used for highlights.”
Brown also nominates lava stone, mother of pearl, adventurine, onyx, cubic zirconia and gold as other materials used to highlight the jewellery, with some pendants featuring leather necklets, finished with sterling silver clasps.
Indeed, it’s not just plain sterling silver that’s currently making the fashion grade. As one can see, the cool, white metal also comes with a myriad of embellishments and finishes to match new-season trends while also providing a precious, valuable alternative. More about these now, starting with Najo.
“Our new collection covers the spectrum from fashion – such as leather and silver bracelets and colourful, anodised aluminium jewellery – to classic designs, such as beautiful Mexican choker and bracelet sets,” Tory says. “Oxidisation, anodised aluminium, resin, enamel, gold plate, copper, silver matte finish, amazonite, lapis, aventurine, black agate, coloured cubic zirconia, carnelian, smoky quartz, and tourmalinated quartz all feature in this season’s range.”
At Sybella Jewellery, rhodium or gold plated sterling silver is combined with cubic zirconia, freshwater and mother of pearl; while blue turquoise, yellow and green stones and classic black and white earrings, pendants and rings with high-grade cubic zirconia also star in Vina’s latest, spring/summer collection.
Sterling silver designers also love to experiment with various metal textures for fresh designs with an edge of distinction from the usual, polished look.
Renee Blackwell is no exception. Blackwell uses a variety of metal finishes on her latest collection, and currently favours the pounded or “Palu-Palu” beaten look on her rings, as well as the “basket weave” band. “I’m looking toward doing rings in the near future with a few new and different band finishes,” Blackwell comments. “Also, I’m still interested in different and unusual buttons and vintage components to set into the rings I create.”
The XS jewellery collections also offer a wide variety of finishes including a soft satin, through to a high polish. Hollow pierced designs in rose, yellow gold and ruthenium plated sterling silver jewellery will feature predominately this year, according to Kiefel.
Ruthenium, she says, is a new plating finish from the platinum family of metals that offers an attractive black-lustre.
“This will add new depth to existing stock and make for a dynamic window display,” she says.
When designing and sourcing new sterling silver jewellery, Australian suppliers look at not only jewelley trends but also apparel directions, to ensure their pieces will work perfectly with all those spring/summer outfits. These trends are often the inspiration for the jewellery design.
“The trend in fashion is toward femininity with the popularity of the ‘frock’ – long, short or in-between – continuing,” says Tory. “Najo has lots of long pendant/necklaces that we expect to continue in popularity for some time. There are also lots of bangles and bracelets and rings for stacking and lots of ‘wow’ rings.”
Layering is also expected to make a return this year: “The layered ‘boho’ look demands a complimentary approach – long, bold and chunky necklaces and much layering,” Kiefel predicts. “We can expect multi-faceted clothing trends, including geometric prints, sumptuous textural fabrics and a riot of colour, all being the major influences on this collection.”
With a view to current trends, jewellery needs to be bold and wearable including layering with chunky chains, bracelets, stand out pendants and distinctive earrings. Because of the diverse nature of fashion this season, striking accessories have never been more important for the up-coming spring/summer collections.
Corti believes 1980s fashions will be present upon the racks of many high-street boutiques and discount department stores. While clothes will be bold to reflect the trends of this era, so will Iron Clay designs, setting-off bold, electric colours against basic black and whites. “Last season, our range was a lot more understated. This year we have stronger, bolder lines that reflect the fashions for the season,” Corti says. Clever, creative.
The reaction to tough times is to spend less on staying fashionable. Initially it sounds impossible, but with new trends like clothes-swapping parties and high-end designers creating for discount department stores, the cheap and chic of Australia can indeed have their style, and wear it too. Translating this trend into the jewellery market, one instantly thinks of sterling silver – the precious, fashion-forward alternative that won’t pull the purse strings too hard this season.
Posted September 25, 2009