Jewellery designers are breaking tradition with unconventional pieces

Designers are breaking from tradition with vibrant asymmetrical pieces worn in unconventional ways, writes Francesca Fearon

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 December, 2013, 11:07am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 December, 2013, 6:06pm

Jewellery fans, it's that time of year when thoughts turn to gifts and wish lists as the festive season draws near and we dream of the jewelled treats we would like to find in our Christmas stockings.

We are fortunate to be experiencing an extraordinary era of creativity in jewellery with a proliferation of designers emerging over the last decade conjuring up dazzling designs to inspire us. This is not just an accessory, like a handbag: it is a beautifully crafted contemporary art form, and one that you can enjoy wearing and sharing.

This is not just an accessory, it is a beautifully crafted contemporary art form

With design boundaries freed up, there are new themes emerging, such as asymmetrical and geometric shapes; ear cuffs; original ways of wearing rings (double rings across two fingers, or incomplete circles). Even the humble chain is having a makeover. There is also a joyous return to colour. The big money has always been around white diamonds but coloured gems are experiencing a renaissance among designers and collectors.

Apart from foraging in the fine jewellery stores of Central and Kowloon, log into the Plukka website for original designs such as ear cuffs from Yeprem, or their own design geometric rings and bracelets.

Plukka is an innovative ecommerce concept that is wholly appropriate for this new era of jewellery design and etailing. Founded by Joanne Ooi and Jai Waney, and winners of the best etailer of 2013 and Most Innovative Retailer in 2012, they create and manufacture fine jewellery without middlemen or conventional retail stores. Moreover, once a week, they offer e-mail subscribers a flash sale based on reverse auction pricing. In these sales, the price may drop depending on the number ordered within the deadline.

Such a dynamic concept means they can be adventurous in their choice of designs, which is good news for those investing in a bauble for themselves, or as a gift for a loved one.


The recent surge in demand for brightly coloured gems is not surprising. Icy white diamonds have dominated fashion for ages, but now vivid rubies, emerald, sapphires, and more affordable spinels, alexandrite and tourmalines are bringing life and pizzazz to jewellery boxes.

It was the advent of the big cocktail ring, then stacking rings, that sparked the trend. There is so much fun in mixing colours up by stacking blue topaz, amethyst and garnet rings from Pomellato's signature Nudo range, or playing with the colours of Plukka's bright and bold pavé set link bracelets.

The trend opens our eyes to a spectrum of gems like aquamarines, opals, peridots and spinels, which we may never have considered before. Jewellers such as Roberto Coin, Pomellato and Marco Bicego specialise in these coloured gems and mix them with a painterly eye.

Rose gold

Rose gold has been around for a while now and shows no sign of disappearing in a hurry. The lovely rosy blush is flattering on all skin tones and looks subtler and far prettier than white gold or platinum. Rose gold features in Van Cleef & Arpels' elegant Perlée and Alhambra collections, as well as Chaumet's emblematic Liens collection, which now includes a rose gold Croisés cuff and ring. It also looks good in statement pieces such as Roberto Coin's Pois et Moi collection where rose, along with yellow and white gold appear in chunky cuffs and link bracelets for day.

Architecture and geometry

Architect Frank Gehry has worked with Tiffany, Oscar Niemeyer, H. Stern, Zaha Hadid, and Swarovski, and now with Caspita, so architectural and geometric shapes find a natural synergy with the fine jewellery world. Tiffany & Co and new artisan jewellers like Ileana Makri, Sophie Bille Brahe and Bridget King of Brigetta are creating extraordinary 3-D geometric and prismic shapes in fine strands of gold. Given the fluctuating price of gold it is an innovative way of creating desirable jewellery at reasonable prices.

The necklaces, bracelets and earrings look like light, wearable sculptures, graphic and modern yet delicate and refined. Ileana Makri, for instance, dangles a diamond set triangle from a pyramid shaped earring and creates graphic gold cuffs with triangular silhouettes set within concentric circles.

Open and cross finger rings

A little bit punk, a little bit sci-fi are the new finger cuff rings and double rings (two rings joined together) that have been appearing in recent collections. Repossi, Shaun Leane and Ileana Makri are among those who have been creating fine, flexible, hinged rings that run almost the length of the finger. They are daintier versions of the armour-like rings that clad Karl Lagerfeld's fingers.

Then there are designers such as Delfina Delettrez, a scion of the Fendi family who creates beautifully refined open rings that are not complete circles, but stay on because each end of the curve is set with either a pearl or a precious gem. Another variation of a ring comes from Yeprem (at Plukka) that is a double ring joined together with a jewelled link.


Gold chains have also been revamped to look like industrial hardware - a trend originally kicked off by the statement necklaces from Lanvin and Mawi and the chunky bracelets by Diane Von Furstenberg for H. Stern. Bold link bracelets in rose gold feature in collections from Roberto Coin, Lara Bohinc and Plukka.

In contrast there are also delicate superfine gold chains appearing as feminine tasselled necklaces at David Yurman or super-long tasselled earrings by Carolina Bucci, with the chains attached to the stud and to the butterfly back. In fact, a top tip from jewellers and stylists is to layer bold and fine gold necklaces together this season.