Simply Modern

Jewelry’s new sophisticated simplicity.


Ivanka Trump Metropolis necklace in 18K yellow gold with diamonds

As the warm-weather seasons begin, jewelry and fashion have both entered into a nouveau modern era. In two words: sleek and uncomplicated. Still glamorous? Definitely—but more panache with purity, if you will. When models strutted down the spring/summer runways wearing peek-a-boo sheers and cut-out mesh (and even see-through skirts) they looked sensual, but seldom overly sexy.

“In fashion, there’s a distinct modernization going on, as designers are beginning to rethink luxury,” explains David Wolfe, creative director of international fabric, color and style forecasting agency The Doneger Group in New York City. “It’s super-simplicity—kind of no-fashion fashion. Yet there’s a lot of cutting-edge creativity. For example, clean-cut sharp angles—what I’m calling geometrickery!”

What does this mean in terms of jewelry accessorizing? “It’s the minimalist ’90s back in fashion. But not the stark minimal ’90s, when everything was spare—as in no accessories and no jewelry,” explains Vicente Agor, president of the Contemporary Jewelry Design Group. “This time around, sleek apparel is the backdrop for jewelry. That’s key to what makes it now—completely 2014,” he says. “The clean lines of the clothes actually let the jewelry stand out. If you wear something exactly as it was styled in its original decade, then it’s a costume! So it’s very important to pair the new austere-shaded, streamlined clothes with jewelry. Otherwise, you’ll look out-of-date—very yesterday.”


The first thing to remember when wearing the season’s refined, unfussy clothes is to think big: jewelry with impact is a megatrend. And you can do that either by wearing large statement pieces or by layering several for a strong jewelry look. With luxury brands, top-trending categories include knuckle rings and cocktail rings, power pendants and lengthy necklaces, long dangle earrings—especially triple-stone drops—and slim bracelets worn in multiples—three minimum, but mostly five—stacked up the arm.

“Geometric and sculptural pieces are very important now,” notes Agor, “and jewelry looks very fresh when it’s large in scale.” Nonetheless, says Wolfe, “Because there are many important silhouettes going on simultaneously this season, sometimes dramatic designs are needed while, at other times, what you wear may call for smaller, slimmer items of jewelry worn together for an overall uber effect.”


Roberto Coin single-row Pois Moi bracelets in high-polished 18K rose, white and yellow gold

Still, whether the jewels you wear this spring and summer are singularly super-sized or merely appear large when layered, the precious metal itself is a key consideration. To some degree, all the high-gloss futuristic fabrics are a factor. “We’re currently experiencing a fascination with unnatural-looking textiles. Metallic is being worn year-round, not just during the holiday period,” Wolfe says. “All shades of metallic—blue, pink, green—a rich rainbow. But my favorites are the darker muted gold metallics; I call them golden glamour. They’re very complementary to the new jewelry we’re seeing in yellow, rose and darkened rhodium-plated gold, and these mix fabulously with white gold and sterling silver that’s oxidized to look gray or black.”


Speaking of black, like last year, it’s the non-color that’s still going strong. “Lots of sparkling white, too,” Wolfe reminds us. “Remember, white is now worn year-round. I especially like all the black-and-white clothes because it’s a color combo that gives you a lot of freedom with jewelry and other accessories. Beyond black and white, color runs the gamut, from bold and bright to darks to mellow yellow, neutral, and nude. And I love that very sophisticated combination of navy and black, which many major fashion houses have given us. Although this year, you’ll see all shades of blue—light, medium, and dark navy—straight into fall and through the winter. And more monochromatic schemes of mid-tone blues, too.”

Penny Preville earrings in 18K yellow gold with moonstone cabochons and organic aquamarine
organic aquamarine bottom drops

Fine jewelry has, in fact, led the way when it comes to blues, says lapidary artist and veteran gem dealer Bill Gangi, who sells high-quality colored stones to many leading names in luxury artisanal jewelry. “It’s the number-one gem color every year,” he says. But in the 2014 Spectrum Awards (the annual premier competition for colored gemstone jewelry design sponsored by the American Gem Trade Association), there were notably more indigo, azure and cobalt-colored jewelry entries than in the 2013 contest. Tanzanite, blue sapphire, lapis-lazuli and aquamarine were hard-to-miss standouts—way more popular than in the previous year. You definitely want your jeweler to show you some new designs that highlight any (or all!) of those blue beauties. Other in-vogue blues are iolite, black opal, blue moonstone, labradorite, turquoise, blue chalcedony, blue topaz and blue zircon.

“A great color combination is blue with purple,” Wolfe recommends. “In fashion, purple’s been hot for the past four seasons.” Given that the Pantone Color Institute named Radiant Orchid as its 2014 Color of the Year, you can bet that purple passion will continue to heat up throughout the year. “It’s a modern and surprisingly versatile shade,” says Pantone’s executive director, Leatrice Eiseman. (Take note: There’s that word modern again!)

Eiseman adds that Radiant Orchid is “a captivating, magical, enigmatic purple, inspiring confidence and emanating great joy, love and health. And it encourages expanded creativity and originality.” Looking at the breadth of imaginative new collections from goldsmiths inspired by a spectrum of violet, lavender and eggplant shaded stones—amethyst, alexandrite, sugilite, purple sapphire, kunzite, tourmaline, agate, quartz and lavender spinel—we can’t help but agree!

On a final note, it’s hardly coincidental that the Pantone Color of the Year is named after a beautiful, delicate flower. Remember, we’re enjoying an uncluttered, easy-to understand style era right now, one that’s often characterized by natural influences as well as geometrics. Think about it: Both nature and geometry are minimalist at their core. Going forward, well beyond 2014, forecasters are predicting that organic-themed collections will continue to grow, as women (like us!) are captivated by the perfection of the imperfection of asymmetric gemstones. Raw diamonds, baroque pearls, sliced precious and semiprecious color. . . each gem is one-of-a-kind from nature and completely sophisticated in its simplicity!