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Swarovski's Wings of Poetry exemplifies the nature trend
Swarovski's Wings of Poetry exemplifies the nature trend
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Jewellery retail's must-stock trends

Look no further for new stock inspiration – this year’s jewellery trends have something for everyone. Lorna Goodyer reports.
The world of jewellery design offers infinite styles, motifs and themes. No question about it, one of the industry’s greatest strengths is that jewellery enables consumers to truly personalise their outfits because each piece can be so unique.

That said, there are certain trends that keep coming up – be it on the high street, the catwalk, or the red carpet. Those oversized earrings all the celebrities were seen wearing to this year’s Grammys are likely to find their way onto the wish lists of hordes of fashion-hungry shoppers, and the cuffs that have appeared on the catwalk runways for a few seasons now, most recently on the models at New York Fashion Week in February, are perennial favourites among jewellery buyers.

Some themes on display in Australia’s jewellery stores come around again and again as they shift in and out of fashion – those highlighted in this article are a mixture of the new, the evolving, and the ‘here we are again’.


Beyond all others, nature is a design trend that has overwhelmingly dominated the market recently. Boutique UK designer Alex Monroe, who has a small distribution base in Australia at present, says this theme will always be popular with consumers. “Trends come and go, but nature is omnipresent and so there is always something that will appeal to somebody,” he says.

Following Italy’s Vicenzaoro First jewellery fair in January, which is widely regarded as a first glimpse of the design story that will play out over the next 12 months, nature was identified as “the new inspiring muse” for jewellery designers. The fair’s post-fair trend analysis said, “The theme of nature continues to dominate the new collections from stylists and artists: leaves, animals and, above all, the beloved flowers, make their creations unique.”  The World Gold Council’s Gold Expressions trend exhibition at the fair told the same story, with florals, leaves, shells and coral fashioned in yellow gold informing what it described as a trend for “opulent organics”.

Manufacturers and suppliers in Australia and overseas have recognised the broad appeal of motifs from simple butterflies and flowers to more unusual icons from the world of nature. One of Monroe’s most popular designs, which helped him gain a cult following in the UK, is an intricate bumblebee pendant in 9ct gold plate. For local manufacturers, the Australian environment including motifs like coral and exotic flowers are appearing more frequently in designs.

This explosion of flora and fauna is being wrought in simple metal, encrusted with pavé, and expressed in more abstract forms too. Swarovski, which is currently undergoing a revolution in its jewellery designs, is one major brand exploring this theme. “The spring/summer 2011 Wings of Poetry collection is inspired by a very artistic vision of nature, finding its roots in the impressionist painting,” says creative director Nathalie Colin, adding, “We have also been inspired by the delicacy of the butterfly which is referred to in many ways, from abstract to figurative designs.”

Colin says this theme represents a new beginning for Swarovski. “We are entering an energetic rebirth, full of freshness, innocence and optimism – which, in the collection, means vivid colours and mix-and-match associations of materials.”

In more abstract manifestations of nature, landscapes are informing design. Natasha Ree, the Australian distributor for Scandinavian jewellery supplier Lapponia, says, “The Finnish landscape is very inspiring, we have a lot of pieces based on snow and ice. The perfect forms in nature are a constant inspiration and it is something that directs a lot of Scandinavian design, consciously or not.”


New directions for this trend include texture. Attention-grabbing, intricate metal work is giving simple designs new complexity that mimics natural surfaces such as bark, parched earth and water. “Nature is represented again through metal work that suggests the raw materials of the earth,” explains Paola de Luca, consultant at the Trends Jewellery Forecasting Group (TJF), based in Italy.

Missie von Lubbe director Suzanne Sundin, who has been creating pieces using textured metals since she launched the brand, says, “It makes for an interesting look, and there are pieces where the texture is such that in some lights you would swear there were diamonds or some other sparkly stone hidden in the texture, but it is just the beautiful design and workmanship of the necklace.”

Melbourne-based trend consultant Eryn Behan points out that texture is not confined to metal either. “An animalistic, earthen aesthetic results in a look of mismatched textures.” This could manifest itself as leather matched with diamonds, or wood paired with burnished gold. Indeed, the use of mixed media could be categorised as a trend in its own right (see p25); organic shapes fashioned from mixtures of wood and precious metal or gemstones were much in evidence at Vicenza this January.

Alex Monroe jewellery is steeped in themes of romance and nostalgia
Alex Monroe jewellery is steeped in themes of romance and nostalgia

De Luca highlights “cosmic explosion” as another divergence of this theme. Moons, stars and cosmic bodies are all manifestations of this broad motif. In more abstract designs, the use of black and white, and the explosion of pavé diamonds and crystal encrustations are creating what de Luca describes as “celestial”, “mythical” and “outer space” motifs. “This is an ever more popular trend,” she claims.

Mark Milton and Vina are two Australian suppliers making heavy use of pavé in new collections. Mark Milton general manager Heidi Plentinger says the company’s latest range of domed Dia Pavé white gold and diamond rings is garnering much positive feedback. “Attention is drawn to them because they sparkle,” she explains. “The beautiful effect a pavé setting gives is that light is reflected on all surfaces at different angles, all placed closely together.”

On the periphery of the theme of nature is ancestry symbolism, according to Behan. “Looking back to ancestry, cultures and civilizations – we are inspired by primitive practices,” she says, explaining that this theme will manifest itself in beaded jewellery and celtic symbols.


Romance is in the air, according to TJF’s de Luca. This trend is about fun, glamour and femininity – not just in jewellery stores but also on the catwalk. In jewellery it is manifesting itself through metalwork plumes, feathers and lace, as well as other feminine motifs such as bows. De Luca says, “Even if women aren’t going to dress like this, they will wear the accessories.”

For some retailers and suppliers this theme is nothing new, but it does appear to be experiencing a revival due to this year’s fashion trends. Missie von Lubbe director Suzanne Sundin says, “We have had plumes, feathers and lace for more than four years now,” adding that these motifs have had continued appeal. Other Australian jewellery brands – such as Dora with its Venetian Lace ring range, and Georgini with its autumn/winter 2011 collection of feminine, fun and fanciful, French-themed jewellery – are getting in on the act too.

Another facet of this romanticism is whimsical nods to heydays of old. Lace and embroidery, for example, are reminding consumers of materials their grandmother might have worn.

In Europe and the US this theme has its origins in the socio-economic atmosphere – emblems that invoke nostalgia in the wearer are much en vogue with consumers who wish to take refuge in the security blanket of pre-Global Financial Crisis days. Australian consumers might not have felt the same hammer blow to the financial status quo, but elements of this trend have nevertheless filtered through.

At the Vicenza jewellery fair, de Luca advised designers and brands to rediscover their history in order to cash in on this trend. “Make sure culture is present,” she said, citing a resurgence of Venetian glass jewellery in her own country as a move back to localised cultural referencing.


Its design principles may sit at the other end of the spectrum to the nostalgic style of fussy lace and filigree metalwork, but, like nostalgia, what de Luca describes as ‘new sobriety’ is another GFC legacy.

This theme is a celebration of minimalism – “less is more”. However, de Luca is quick to point out that this is not a fashion kickback: “This is nothing do with the beginning of the 1990s when minimalism meant not wearing jewellery.”

Instead, it is about simplicity, transparency, opalescence and purity – at a time when world economics have been murky. You only have to look at the fashion watch market to see how this trend is playing out in other sectors, with white watches having proved an instant hit with consumers in recent months.

In jewellery, the clean purity of silver and platinum are the metals of choice for designers referencing this trend, with stones such as moonstone, opal and diamond playing a part.

Like with ‘futurist urban’ Behan identifies architecture as a key source of inspiration for this theme. “’New sobriety’ is influenced by contemporary, functional architecture. A clean, minimal geek chic persona ensues, strongly influenced by Scandinavian style,” she says.

Scandinavian brands certainly feel at home with this minimalist ethos – think Georg Jensen, Lapponia, and even Pandora with its Lovepods and Liquid Silver collections. Indeed, former Georg Jensen designers created both of these ranges for Pandora, and the brand says the “clean lines and surfaces” of its Liquid Silver collection are proving popular with Pandora customers.

Ree says the type of consumer drawn to the statement pieces and minimalist aesthetic that Lapponia produces is one who has a certain “design confidence”.


Personalisation has been a key trend for several seasons now, but recently customisation has taken on a more literal meaning in jewellery. TJF’s de Luca says icons and inscribed words appeal to consumers because they allow them to tell their story. “The world of messaging is very important. We have a strong desire to tell about ourselves,” she says.

Uberkate jewellery is part of the burgeoning personalisation trend hitting jewellery
Uberkate jewellery is part of the burgeoning personalisation trend hitting jewellery

Emotion is a powerful driver for this type of jewellery purchasing – as Tuskc operations director Helen Hagerty says, “Messaging in jewellery reinforces the emotion that is often the motivator for it being gifted in the first place.” Messaging jewellery is something Tuskc has recently expanded into, with the release of a matching set of messaging dog tag and ring that complements its existing Generation-Y-focused range.

Kate Sutton, owner and designer at Uberkate, which has a large selection of messaging jewellery, says, “We definitely find people wanting to communicate through our designs. From the bride who has her husband’s cufflinks custom made with their initials and wedding anniversary to the new dad who wants to celebrate the birth of a child by having us emboss the baby’s name and birth date on ubercircles. Every piece we make celebrates a message, a life moment and expression from one person to another.” The company’s latest release will be a Family Tree pendant that can incorporate up to 20 words on the one piece.

De Luca puts the rise of this jewellery theme down to a strong social phenomenon: “Facebook, Twitter, the social network – these are very much responsible for the desire to communicate,” she explains.

So does this mean that this trend is only relevant to Gen-Y consumers who have been most heavily influenced by this media? Sutton says it’s not that simple: “‘Generation-Y’ are a growing part of our market. We find they start their Uberkate journey with a significant birthday, a 21st present, a necklace custom-made with close friends’ initials or a bangle with a mantra or friend’s name,” she says. However, she adds, “‘Generation-X’ and the ‘baby boomers’ are also driving this trend towards meaningful heirloom jewellery. Our range starts at under $200 so is affordable to ‘Generation-Y’, yet we also offer all our designs in solid gold, which appeals to a different market.”

Similarly, messaging jewellery specialist Legacy New York highlights the heirloom theme as a significant draw for fans of the brand. Marketing manager Maria Vella told Jeweller in February, “It’s about families – connecting generations – it’s about those you love, a timeless heirloom that can be worn any time.”

Whether the consumer appeal will last as long as the pieces themselves is unknown, but for now this is a hot ticket for retail jewellers’ stores.


Geometric patterns, lines, squares, harsh angles and refracted light all sum up this trend. Behan says, “Science influences this theme. Shapes and lines are inspired by harsh angles and flat surfaces.”

Architectural references are everywhere, from the gothic arches of Venetian palaces referenced in Autore’s latest Venezia pearl jewellery collection, to the Art Deco skyrises of New York in Lapponia’s ‘Manhattan’ line.

The new Atrium collection from Australian supplier Cotton & Co uses Swarovski Elements to create modernist pendants and earrings that designer Alison Casey says are inspired by architecture: “Abstract architecture in the real world highlights the world surrounding it, and that flows through to jewellery when the same concept is applied,” she explains.

European brand Ventum, a recent market entrant to Australia, uses steel mesh, anodised aluminium, ruthenium and large crystals in its contemporary Polish designs to create a futuristic aesthetic. Ventum managing director Voytek Trzebiatowski, who is an architect by trade, points out that the term ‘futurism’ has different connotations in Australia than in does in markets such as the US and Europe. “In Europe the reference to ‘Modernism’ and ‘Futurism’ has actually a sophisticated, retro feel to it, while in Australia those trends have left a relatively little imprint in the history of art and design,” he explains. “Therefore the terms modernism and futurism have more fresh, actual and literal meaning in Australia.”

Australian-owned Tuskc, which has promoted itself as an ‘urban’ brand since its launch in 2009, and whose designs are heavily influenced by the built environment, says styles have become more “refined and sophisticated” this year. “Futuristic and geometric designs are a definite feature of many jewellery and clothing collections this season,” says Hagerty. “The overlays and decorations on our [latest] pieces have an almost architectural appeal with their combination of straight lines and angles. These geometric inspired designs are clean and uncomplicated and have a sophisticated and almost masculine feel.”

SAMS Group Australia

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