Banking on White Halos

In this month’s series of articles we take a look at the colors, settings, gems and trends that are defining the pages of the 2012 jewelrystand-outs. From white heroes to halo winners. From mass market customization to shape shifters and contemporary cuts – it’s all in the design.

This season, one color has been gaining all the critical acclaim and box office receipts. White stones and white metals have broken through as the shine-out stars of the mega-sellers. White – a chameleon with the unique ability to juxtapose hard and soft, bright and light, dazzling and gentle.

White Trends and Styles

Trend-wise, white is right on target (who doesn’t remember Gwyneth Paltrow at the Oscars in her stunning Tom Ford white cape dress?) Price-wise, white gems and metals are adaptable and affordable (white sapphires, white topaz, white quartz, palladium and enamel to name a few). Marketing-wise, white crosses all demographics. For the more classically inclined, perennial favorites include diamonds set in white gold or platinum, with white drusy quartz and rock crystal set in titanium or silver, pulling in the votes from the more fashion-forward demographic. And not forgetting of course, pearls – that multi-functional gem that powers through price points, style whims and marketing fads.

Why We Love To White….

As the major gemstone groupings (sapphires/emeralds and tourmalines) witness an upwards price push caused by buyers from burgeoning markets such as India and China, some white stones have seen their prices hold steady, even dropping slightly in the past few months. Topaz and beryl for example, while witnessing a year of price hikes, are now seeing a plateau or even slight dip. The result? Manufacturers are placing increasing emphasis on lines featuring affordable gemstones, which in several cases are white – hot white. So is white the new black? Well for now it’s certainly on most jewelry designers shopping lists and is climbing up the best-sellers chart on the retail market.

Other white gemstones that are popular with consumers and provide cost-effective options include created white sapphires, genuine white sapphires and frosted white quartz.

A Diamond Super-Setting

From indie to vintage, diamond settings are all about getting the biggest bang for the buck and that means white on white. Halo settings are enjoying a significant pick-up in interest and demand. Although it’s difficult to credit any one designer or wearer with kicking off the diamond halo engagement ring trend, the style first gained the attention of fashionable marriage minded women in the late 1920s and has recently seen a return to its former glory.

The pave halo setting features smaller diamonds, usually set against a white metal background. The halo of diamonds encircles the bigger surfaced center-stone, an effective way to beautify the look of a larger carat diamond or other gem. Some halo settings have taken a step into trend forward sensibilities, with the diamond halo not completely surrounding the center stone, providing negative space that attempts to further enhance the center-stone’s sparkle.

The White Queen At Checkmate

But, when it comes to white gemstones, there’s truly only one queen bee – and that’s positively pearly. Cultured or natural, a pearl is what you make of it. Mikimoto recently hit the headlines when it sold a necklace on the first day of the Basel Show featuring 1,490 akoya pearls for a not so insignificant $350,000. Pearls run the gauntlet of prices and style adaptabilities: pearls with diamonds, pearls in platinum, pearls with silk or a stand-alone single pearl.

Next week: As the price of many gemstones continues to rise, we take a look at the stones, the cuts, and the trends that are making these colored treasures a go-to jewel for many consumers.