Cool down from the August heat with season-appropriate jewelry! Pure white platinum inspires cool thoughts and offers big comfort thanks to its heft, powder-soft finish, and nickel-free formula that’s naturally nonallergenic. Two-tone jewelry blends the best of white metals (sterling silver or platinum) with gold in sun-kissed designs with versatility and value thanks to the balance of a pricier precious metal paired with a less-expensive one—or a different material altogether such as enamel. Finally, what speaks to summer more than pearls? Their popularity continues in myriad collections and as accents on runway couture and accessories worldwide. Plumb Club members dish on all below.
Continental / Novell
When Platinum Guild International (PGI) kicked off its Platinum Spotlight Program in 2022, select high-end artists were tapped to turn out signature and brand-new designs in the all-white metal, and the jewelry got many talking. From breathtaking platinum collars with South Sea pearls, garnets, and diamonds to interlinked diamond-studded rings meant to be worn across multiple fingers, the program and designs were so inspiring to see in platinum that PGI brought efforts back for 2023.
Making jewelry in the world’s rarest precious metal is always a good idea, but planting the platinum seed among the independent designer landscape is important to keep the cachet of the naturally white, strong, and hypoallergenic metal top of mind. Plus, at current metals prices, platinum makes even more sense, a point that some manufacturers are noting in orders.
Leo Schachter Diamondshas encountered a bevy of recent requests for platinum bridal styles. In fact, one longtime client, a national chain with more than 30 doors, is reintroducing a platinum program after a 20-year break. “Platinum has a higher space in brand awareness,” says Lenny Kramer, vice president of sales. “It means something when clients say, ‘I want this in platinum.’”
Another Schachter chain account, one with seven doors, is bringing in platinum bridal at the request of the sales team. “This is a store that sells Rolex and Patek Phillippe,” adds Kramer. “The buyer ordered pieces in 18k gold, but the sales associates want all platinum. Platinum checks off another box for many buyers.”
Soshil Choksey of Sandeep Diamondrecognizes the importance of educating the sales staff—which likely led to his peers’ experience. “Educating the retailer about platinum is a lot of what we do,” explains the strategic creative director. “There’s a market for platinum.”
At press time, Choksey, too, was working hard to persuade a merchant to stock more of the metal in bridal. “It’s hardier and you don’t have to rhodium plate it like gold,” he says.
“Consumer experiences are better long-term with platinum, which also lends itself to larger center stones. IDDLuxe’s Kendra Bridelle agrees, which is why her newer division of parent company IDD plans to unveil platinum as a choice in its MOZÉ bridal collection of easy-to-swap-out heads and shanks. “We aim to satisfy the needs of the independent jeweler, so offering platinum is a logical next step,” says the division president.
Rick Mulholland’s company, Novell, a subsidiary of Continental, is another proponent of platinum in the bridal space. In fact, the firm leads with it—not gold—in most sales and at trunk shows. Novell has even developed a lightweight platinum design for the budget-conscious shopper who still wants a high-quality metal.
“The surface of the design looks identical to the medium and full weight versions, there’s just less height,” explains the sales manager. “Styles fit closer to the finger, and the edges aren’t sharp.”
And though Novell is known for its use of precious metals, it has also introduced a platinum with tantalum product within its wedding band options. “Our tantalum is slightly resizable (up to a ½ size), so it made sense to pair such a high-quality metal with a material that is in demand,” Mulholland adds.
And while platinum’s properties make it ideal for the commitment category, other brands use it in high-end fashion styles for its prestige. Cirari sets its toniest gemstones and diamonds and estate-inspired styles in platinum to set it apart from competitors.
“The allure of platinum is different than gold,” notes Mark Funk, vice president of sales and marketing. “Platinum has always been a product for better and higher-end goods because it has an allure to it, something from a bygone era.”
Two Tones for Twice the Style
Prime Art & Jewel
As a graphic color story unfolded on runways during Paris Fashion Week in late February through early March, it seemed fitting that two-tone jewelry played a key role. Fall 2023 ready-to-wear collections featured many black-and-white color combinations that called for the same yin and yang in accessories. To wit, many chunky chain layers and oversize earrings had opposites-attract vibes in colors and materials across the range of Parisian couture brands.
In the U.S. fine-jewelry space, there are plenty of brands with two-tone options to adorn stateside attire, which is inevitably influenced by runway looks.
Uses of two-tone metals or a metal mixed with other materials like ceramic or enamel allow makers and wearers to benefit from both versatility and price, giving a less expensive medium like sterling silver a taste of a pricier one like 18k gold. This is something Balinese-inspired jewelry maker Samuel Behnam of Samuel B. Collection has capitalized on since the inception of his brand, setting strategically placed 18k gold accents as dots in designs, hammered gold sheets as bangle or drop earring focal points, or as bracelet links that connect to sterling ones. Two-tone looks are also an effect that others have borrowed with success.
Equity Diamond Brokers
AtEquity Diamond Brokers, several newer fashion collections incorporate both karat gold and silver for the higher perceived value it gives pieces, according to Allen Rosenel, chief marketing officer. “We have added it into our vintage jewelry designs as well as our Heritage and Heritage Diamond Rope collections,” he notes.
In the bridal jewelry category, two-tone designs can illustrate unions. This is the case with manufacturer Ostbye, which offers two-tone white and yellow and white and rose gold looks in its bridal collections.
Designs feature metal-intense and melee-accented intertwining segments that embrace center stones. In commitment bands, two-tone offerings in a variety of metals have been the norm, especially for brands like Benchmark. In its lines, combinations of noble and contemporary metals allow designers to paint vivid imagery on bands, such as mountains, rocks, or wood grain for outdoorsman, fantasy-influenced effects (think dragons), or more classic two-tone designs.
At Mastoloni Pearls, two- and even three-tone looks can enhance gemstones in designs, particularly when used to make certain colors pop. In the brands’ newly released Asttrata Collection, for example, abstract and organic shapes center around negative space, white cultured pearls, and brilliant-cut white diamonds in 18k yellow and white gold. The diamonds are set in white gold to make them stand out more.
“Two-tone looks offer wearers the best of both worlds and the versatility to layer with either metal color to create a statement that is all their own,” says Fran Mastoloni, one of the company principals.
Perilynn Glasner of Lali Jewelsagrees and uses two-tone effects in pieces to make certain elements more prominent.
In fact, styles in a soon-to-be-released men’s jewelry collection from the brand will feature two-tone metals with gemstones. “Besides being on trend, two-tone metals create a unique look that gives you the opportunity to mix, match, and stack styles,” says the marketing and design director.
Pearls: Forever on Trend
Pearls and pearl jewelry remain a fixture on runways and in new jewelry collections. From Chloé’s pearl body chains to strands arounds the necks of countless male pop stars and baseball players, pearls continue to be reimagined every season, much to the delight of collectors.
Brands like Mastoloni and Imperial Pearlhave always made the cultured pearl their focal point. For both firms, 100% of designs feature pearls—South Sea, Akoya, or Chinese freshwater.
“Mastoloniused cultured pearls in every one of our designs,” says Fran Mastoloni, a company principal. “The pearl takes center stage in all of our collections, and we design around the star.”
At the 2023 JCK Las Vegas Show, Mastoloniunveiled several new collections that celebrate their celebrity gem. Its Astratta Collection features organic silhouettes with white cultured pearls, two-tone metals, and diamonds. A new Cultured Couple collection puts cultured pearls and lab-grown diamonds in the same setting, and a small offering of men’s jewels sets pearls into masculine metal designs.
For sure, fresh designs fight tired pearl stereotypes—think grandmother’s jewelry box. Marketing and design director Perilynn Glasner, at Lali Jewels, is all too aware of the stigma from which pearls suffer.
That’s why Lali Jewels features Chinese freshwater pearls in every style and category imaginable, from updated tin cup necklaces to bridal fashion styles.
“People associate them with jewelry their parents or grandparents used to wear, which might be more conservative,” she says. “We design our pieces to be young, fun, and well-priced, so the modern customer will enjoy the look of the designs and be able to afford them.”
Imperial Pearl, meanwhile, caters to both lovers of classic pearls and contemporary ones. “We put classics at our core business,” says Kathy Grenier, vice president, business development. Imperial’s branded Signature Collection of high-luster Akoya pearls offers “turnkey solutions that take the guesswork out of ‘What should I buy’ and ‘How should I display it?’” she adds. The brand also specializes in farm-direct Chinese freshwater and Tahitian pearls, as well as on-trend designs with pearls and colored gemstones.
“While we interpret important trends (in pearl) we also lead with original and intentional designs of our own,” continues Grenier. “Our design philosophy is to show and share pearls’ modernity and integral role in what and how we wear jewelry today.”
Susie Wilty, director of sales at Prime Art & Jewel, thinks similarly about the freshwater pearls in her company’s Paris 1901 line. Pearls needn’t be reserved for certain occasions, demographics, or specific designs; pearls are versatile and timeless and can elevate any look.
“Our fashion-forward designs reimagine pearls, making them accessible while still capturing the essence of their timeless charm,” she says. “We believe that pearls are not just for traditional settings, but that they can shine as contemporary statement pieces, empowering everyone to express their unique style and personality.”