The jewelry industry is filled with designers who work in fine materials and position their lines as the collectibles of tomorrow. But how do you choose the rare talents with staying power, who create pieces you will want to wear for years to come when you are bombarded by new designers every day on Instagram? How do you select which aesthetic best suits yours when ads pop up on your computer and while surfing the fine jewelry websites, you become so overwhelmed that you are on sensory overload and need to log off and bake cookies? Unless you are jewelry savvy and invest in a lot of timely research, you might not find your new dream designers. And that’s where we come in. This article provides six new designers in different areas of the fine jewelry market that might just be what you are searching for. Here are our picks for designers to watch in different categories for 2019:
The Rebel With A Cause
Thea Miller designs jewelry that is as inspiring as it is edgy. When she first launched her collection Dru Jewelry in 2013, she re-interpreted iconic symbols and images that provided hope and solace throughout history. Her first pieces were a mix of modern iterations and found vintage pieces but as the desire for her collection grew, she began reworking all of her pieces into a theme that drew on empowerment, strength and faith in oneself and promise for a better reality. She balances her eye for what’s fine and feminine with a rocker chic vibe in her ability to creatively mine the past for symbolic jewelry that connects women to their emotions, grace, strength and sense of humor.
Miller never imitates or re-creates, rather her sensibilities and talent takes her to new places that touch on styles of various time periods with a current and clean-lined spirit. Her jewelry includes, ‘mantra’ pendants, which are engraved with meaningful words and sayings, weighty, gemstone and diamond-studded dog tags, shields, charm necklaces that can include daggers and crosses for protection and hope, and all styles of signet rings.
One of her most sought-after styles is her Conservatory Ring series which she created in collaboration with Alain Simic (Dru Jewelry xxx PV Collection) and which borrow inspiration from locket and poison rings that we have seen throughout different moments in jewelry’s history, dating back to medieval times and made popular again from the Victorian Era through the Vintage ‘70s. These rings have the look of chunky signets but the Conservatory styles slide open to reveal a secret compartment. What’s so evocative about them is their original imagery that tells a story from the shank and top of the ring all the way through to the plaque or what Miller calls the ‘chamber’ when the compartment is opened. Miller explains, “The fact that these rings act as a locket only further emphasizes their special meaning. Lockets were used to store tokens of love, loss and keep sacred those parts of us we want to keep close but might not want to reveal.” Her full collection is based on the belief is that “as women, we are all multi-faceted and complex, yet we are independent and powerful enough to find light in the dark.”
The Un-Conventional Fine Jeweler
GiGi Ferranti has blurred the boundaries of fine jewelry. Her passion is in creating pieces that defy the pretty florals, garlands and leaves of the ’90s and early part of the millennium has resulted in pieces that are crafted in luxurious metals, vivid and high-quality gemstones and twinkle with a heavy dose of diamond accents. Ferranti has pushed through to become a new wave of jewelry designer, creating collections that weave together old world techniques with modern technology. Her designs combine the symmetry of geometric lines and architectural influences, with a finely tuned delicate yet powerful feminine aesthetic. Throughout her collection, she features ultra-modern and streamlined shapes that appeal to the woman who prefers jewelry to be bold but still wearable, stackable and collected.
Her collection is crafted in yellow, pink and white gold as well as platinum which Ferranti will do as special orders. Different themes in the collection can stand-alone or intermingle with other groupings. All designs are created for maximum versatility and rely on triangular, hexagonal and diamond shapes and her love for layering and stacking can be seen throughout the collection. Ferranti’s ability to merchandise and build upon her line stems from her first career in the fashion industry. She then went on to complete her graduate gemologist degree in 2011 and launched her collection in 2015. Her collection is a must-have for any woman who wants to update her fine jewelry wardrobe with pieces that can still mix easily yet offer a high dose of fashion and the longevity to live on past the trends.
The Mystical Romantic
Emily Hirsch’s collection Talon which first launched in 2007 with brass and sterling silver pieces goes deep into the meaning and legend of the jewels and how they relate to the person who will wear them. Her hugely successful first collection of zodiac signet rings and pendants (which she now has translated into 14K gold) is worn by such style-setters as Sarah Jessica Parker and is Hirsch’s way of delving deeply the practice of astrology and exploring the symbolism of the sky. “How we apply our zodiac signs and what they mean to our own lives is like wearing a piece of our past, present and future—our identity,” explains Hirsch.
Once the rings and pendants garnered a huge following, Hirsch created a new collection based on ‘Love, Death and Rebirth.’ All of her pieces are either deeply engraved or have raised motifs and are just rough-hewn enough to imbue them with a darkly romantic take on talismanic jewelry. Hirsch has also cast this collection in 14K yellow and rose gold, which has been catching on quickly with jewelry enthusiasts who appreciate finer materials. Her ‘Love, Death and Rebirth’ collection includes six charm necklaces and one signet ring. This group features iconic symbols such as a Sacred Heart, Eternal Skull and Rising Phoenix, among others and continue with Hirsch’s theme of personal prophesy, and connection on a deep level with the wearer. Each of the six pendants is double-sided, featuring a word or words on the back, a secret the wearer holds close to their heart, choosing whether to reveal or not. As Hirsch so eloquently explains, “None of us know what the future holds but we can find comfort and hope in adorning ourselves in talisman that will reveal our pasts, lead us through our present and give us strength and foresight as we head into our future.”
The Color Mixologist
Gwen Myers, the designer behind Eden Presley (named after her two daughters), launched her collection, making a statement in gold and diamond message bracelets and motto rings. “I launched my jewelry line when my daughter Eden was born,” says Meyers. “I had an idea to design a bracelet with her name on it. Once I started wearing it, friends began asking for them, with their children’s names or different words.” Soon after the collection grew to include everything from inspirational to whimsical phrases and rings that had raised motifs or initials set with diamonds on the front that flipped around to reveal engraved sayings on the back. But soon after that Meyers hit her stride when she started mixing complementary and contrasting gemstone colors, cuts and unexpected ways to set them.
“When I began working with gemstones, I discovered my true passion,” says the designer whose look has evolved into joyous juxtapositions of vibrant hues and exuberant, elegantly irreverent contrasts of rough and fine gem cuts. Explains Meyers, “I’m self-taught so ignorance has always been bliss for me. I’ve always made what I like and never considered it a problem to mix gems that are precious with those that are, or once were considered semi-precious. My ‘anything goes attitude’ as well as my use of polished rough and exclusive cuts of the natural materials mixed with finer, more perfect shapes open up a much wider color palette and style range for me.”
Often when Meyer’s pieces are arranged and set they resemble an exotic mosaic with different tactile surfaces in the various shapes and painterly palette of stones. Many of her newest creations blend her “Mantra’ and “Stone” collections which have been a huge hit among retailers and clients alike. Meyers can personalize saying and gemstones to represent all occasions in life, both big and small.
Yokabid Worku designs with a similar attention to detail, whimsical nature and unparalleled workmanship of some of the renowned jewelers of the mid-20th-century. Her pieces for Yoki Creations are thoughtfully sketched out with an uncanny sense of precision and proportion and are realized in limited edition and one-of-a-kind jewels. When Ethiopian born, Worku launched her fine jewelry, Yoki Collections in 2008, her maternal Aunt said, “I am not surprised that this is the path you chose. When you were a little girl, you cut the biggest flower from my garden and held it against your ear and said to me ‘one day, my jewelry will be this big’.” Although Worku’s pieces are large in scale and are imbued with presence, they never overpower the wearer’s own character. Instead, Yokabid describes her designs as “conversation starters—they allow the wearer to make a statement without ever detracting or overwhelming their personal style.”
Worku didn’t start her career as a jewelry designer Through a series of unrelated events, she recalls, “I needed to re-evaluate my life and reached the “Aha moment” which led to my learning the craft of jewelry. I embarked on teaching myself each step of the creative and the business aspects simultaneously. This was not easy, as it required patience, unwavering commitment, keen observation, business strategy, and most importantly the passion to see it all through.”
She did and the result is a magical array of cocktail rings, pendants that turn into brooches, day into evening earrings and a small range of men’s pieces, all which revolve around Worku’s penchant for mixing up different inspirations.
“I can see the beauty in the structure of a jet engine, the streamlined details of an art deco building as well as in the fragility of a flower or the intricate patterns of butterfly wings and I am not afraid of mixing these influences in one piece with one unifying element.” She adds. “The idea of combining seemingly disparate inspirations and shaking things up, results in pieces that are unexpected and some of the most successful since I launched my jewelry.” She explains. She smiles at the thought of her days as the young girl her grandmother’s garden. She says, “I believe that life is somewhat of a circle when you have a vision or an interest, you find your way back to it or it finds its way to you. This confirms how I wound up exactly where I am supposed to be.”
Susan Cohen of Circa 1700 is one of today’s designers who is interpreting motifs and styles that have been handed down and reinvented throughout the 20th century. She is reviving certain symbolism, and sentimentality in pieces that are relevant to modern women and to which they can relate and appreciate. Cohen rejuvenates various styles with wit, originality and an inventive mixing of time periods and themes.
Her Circa 1700 Inspired Collection is steeped in various motifs and messages that play on luck, love and protection. Cohen explains, “I am inspired by the Georgian and Victorian era when jewelry was both a beautiful object as well as a coded message. These messages utilized gemstones, symbolism and letters/words to create love tokens that captivate us even today. I wanted to reinvent pieces that embrace this bygone era while playing with concepts that speak to the contemporary woman. She continues, “It was important for me to mix things up and add my aesthetic so as to turn it into my own take on motifs we have seen throughout history.
The enamel and gemstone collection embodies romance yet in strong designs that are never too girlish or sweet. “Two charms that are close to my heart are the Bonne Chance because we all need a bit of luck, and the This Be Your Lucky Star, (also for luck) and for which I switched up the design by adding a moon for my love of Good Night Moon. Then, there are my latest additions that fulfill my passion for all things mechanical: The Loving Hand Mechanical Clasp (dedicated to all moms) This clasp for me was a lesson in patience and creativity! But it was worth the challenge.
Cohen has since launched a new range of designs based on the destiny of love and what is written on the stars. There are also shields with enameled sayings that can be engraved with a set of initials. All of her pieces can be customized with enamel hues and gemstones of one’s choice.