History and Future of Jewelry Icons

History and Future of Jewelry Icons
Winston Gates Rings. Courtesy of Harry Winston

Designers of the past and labels shaping the future are shared by us.

An iconic piece of jewelry is one of the best investments you can make, whether it is brand new or vintage. Iconic pieces, or collections, what makes them so? Van Cleef & Arpels' Alhambra collection features emblems inspired by famous locations? Cartier's Love bangle, for example, or structured simplicity?

It doesn't have to be about age to turn out timeless and relevant designs when you've got the foundations of a big heritage jewelry house, as shown by these designs created in the last 20 years.

We are experiencing a ripple effect from the pandemic in the future of trade and trends in our industries, especially in the area of ‘living in the now’. A number of these include not saving fine jewelry pieces for special occasions and wearing them every day (the Zoom effect, perhaps?) and buying high and fine jewelry digitally. But what's really going to make a difference in 2021 and beyond? Practices that promote sustainability and ethical behavior. 

The Icons

Tiffany & Co.’s Tiffany T Collection

Tiffany T True Hinged Bracelet in 18K gold. Courtesy of Tiffany & Co.

When you thought Tiffany & Co. couldn’t come up with any more icons — the famous blue-hued jewelry brand is known for its Return to TiffanyTM key rings and elegant key collections — in 2014, the Tiffany T collection comes out, “an icon for a new era” that “captures Tiffany’s love, creativity, and strength.”

Tiffany T was Francesca Amfitheatrof's first collection as Tiffany & Co.'s design director. At the time of the collection's launch, Amfitheatrof said she wanted to create a symbol for modern life and the energy that drives art and culture in New York and around the world.

Fashion types have remained attracted to this 'symbol of modern life' for years. With its simple, timeless design, the collection draws inspiration from the architectural lines of the letter T. A combination of 18K yellow gold, 18K rose gold and 18K white gold, the bracelets, rings and pendants are designed to complement one another and be stacked or layered.

Tiffany's T1 collection and T True collection, featuring yellow gold, rose gold, and platinum rings and bracelets set with the signature T, were inspired by the T1 collection.

Harry Winston’s Winston Gates

Courtesy of Harry Winston

Harry Winston Winston Gates Platinum Diamond Earrings with 58 round brilliant diamonds weighing a total of approximately 0.43 carats, price on request

Rather than keeping diamonds in vaults, Harry Winston displayed his impressive diamond collection in his Fifth Avenue salon, earning him the title of 'King of Diamonds.' Furthermore, Winston organized public exhibitions around the world, believing that such objects should be shared with the public.

As a tribute to the rare jewels that gave Winston his nickname and honoring his vision and long-standing passion for diamonds, Winston Gates pays tribute to the gates of his Manhattan boutique. At the corner of West 56th Street and Fifth Avenue, the jewelry brand's flagship boutique is located in a stately neoclassical travertine townhouse, complete with a gilded iron gate.

A gold rosette pattern with ten petals is accentuated by scrolling leaves and sculpted urns on the famous iron gate. A medallion pendant, earrings, bracelets, and rings from the collection's namesake collection feature round brilliant diamonds in platinum, rose or yellow gold in a rosette pattern surrounded by pavé diamonds.

Buccellati Brooches

Courtesy of Buccellati

Buccellati had a great run in the early aughts. An exhibition called Buccellati: Art in Gold, Silver and Gems, which celebrated the work of Mario and Gianmaria Buccellati, was held at the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC in 2000. In 2004, the company's now-famous Animalier collection was introduced at SIHH in Geneva, followed by its first watch collection a year later.

With his passion for baroque pearls as inspiration, Gianmaria Buccellati created 28 collector's edition brooches with emeralds, rubies, sapphires and mother-of-pearl serving as texture, and emeralds, rubies, and sapphire enhancing the details. "A menagerie born from unbridled imagination," from dragons with ruby tongues to snails with mysteriously gleaming eyes.

The Future Leaders

Everyday Fine Jewelry

Courtesy of Jessica McCormack

Fine jewelry is no longer reserved for special occasions. There have been few celebrations and special occasions this year, which has ushered in a new norm: wearing fine jewelry every day.

Some brands have been marketing themselves as such for years, not just during a year of lockdowns, quarantines, and restrictions. Alighieri, Sophie Bille Brahe, and Anissa Kermiche all design artisanally crafted pieces that can be slipped over sweaters on the school run or peeked out from undershirts in the boardroom.

Jessica McCormack says she wants to offer her clients diamonds for everyday use, whether it's for wearing out to lunch, dancing on tables, or working from home. Our jewelry shouldn't be tucked away, waiting for the perfect occasion. The jewelry is meant to be worn and loved."


Courtesy of Lightbox Jewelry 

For quite some time, big brands have been scrutinized for their ethical and sustainable practices in the jewelry industry. The precious metal and gemstone industries have realized the enormous potential for positive change through initiatives such as Fairtrade and Fairmined gold.

In addition, Pandora has committed to using only recycled gold and silver by 2025, and Tiffany & Co has expanded the parameters of its diamond provenance initiative. Chopard has committed to using 100% ethically sourced gold in its workshops, as have Ana Khouri and Pippa Small.

In addition, lab-grown diamonds are a topic worth discussing. As well as being chemically identical to mined diamonds, lab-made diamonds are 30 percent less expensive than the real thing. They are made by subjecting 'seeds' to intense pressure and heat.

Despite the fact that lab-made diamonds are not considered eco-friendly because they require a considerable amount of power, the practice eliminates any doubt about ethical mining. Lightbox, a lab-grown jewelry brand from De Beers, the world's largest diamond manufacturer, was announced in May 2018, marking one of the largest investments in the technology to date.

E-Tailer Revolution

Courtesy of Bulgari

Despite its flagship store Net-A-Porter launching over 20 years ago, Yoox Net-a-Porter only launched a high-end jewelry section in 2018. The company then doubled down on its jewelry offering by curating an invitation-only digital space entitled EIP Privé, but the shortcomings of fine jewelry available online, and the difficulty of purchasing it readily, are reflected industry-wide.

According to Caroline Chalmer and Mie Ejdrup, co-founders of FineMatter.com, the pandemic has swung open the doors to digital jewelry purchases. Jewelry designers and customers showed even greater interest in our business, say Chalmer and Ejdrup. There had been a sudden drop in sales for jewelry designers as a result of closed stores. "Their brand had to be presented in line with their standards while being financially attractive and easy to sell online."

According to Vishal Mehta, cofounder of Once, a fine jewelry marketplace, “Working from home has also decreased competition from other luxury rivals such as travel, experiences, and clothing.” People tend to prioritize quality over quantity during times of crisis, he says. According to him, this means that people have more disposable income to invest in fine jewelry. "Add to that a growing demographic of digital natives with high incomes, and you have an audience that shops online for fine jewelry naturally."

As for Auverture, founded by artist and designer Bibi Van Der Velden, it focuses on bringing unique, lesser-known brands to the masses using its curated offering of antique and vintage jewelry.

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