American Gem Trade AssociationAdd More Color To Your Life

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By Deborah Yonick, jewelry style expert

Our need to re-energize, create balance and express individuality prevails in color preferences for spring 2013 with a fashion palette mixing lively bright hues with novel neutrals in well-balanced blends that are practical and versatile, while commanding attention.

"This season's color palette emphasizes our need for balance, while at the same time allowing for self-expression and excitement," describes Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute ®. The color guru notes that the harmony we strive for in our daily lives is echoed in the latest fashions that poise light and bright, classic and new.

Designers showing their spring collections during Mercedes Benz Fashion Week at Lincoln Center, New York City were enviously green, championing three different shades of the hue that work as stunning foreground or backdrop colors. From subtle to pop, top greens are hushed with gray undertone in a delicate Grayed Jade, invigorating and cheerful in vibrant yellow-green Tender Shoots, and radiantly rich in lively Emerald .

Blues, too, remain a prime pick in the palette, especially in a serene calming Dusk Blue, akin to Grayed Jade as one of the newest neutrals; and Monaco Blue, a classic anchor shade that offers both stability and depth to the season's color range. A pretty purple in an exotic African Violet also adds a touch of intrigue to the spectrum. But perhaps most uplifting are Nectarine, a bright, effervescent citrus orange with coral undertones, and the cheerful and spicy Lemon Zest that has a refreshing spritely green cast.

Rounding out the palette is a must-have neutral in a warm, light and airy nude basic called Linen and the perfect punch of color in Poppy Red, a spirited shade that's exuberant, seductive, and celebratory. Clever catwalk color combinations include Dusk Blue with Nectarine; Linen with Grayed Jade or Dusk Blue; African Violet with Poppy Red; and Monaco Blue with Emerald or Poppy Red and Linen.

"Designs can be created with exciting combinations of the 2013 colors because it's not about one color anymore, but contrasting or opposite colors that can be combined to create harmony among varying tones," describes Natalie Weisiger, director of marketing for the Los Angeles-based Omi Gems, AGTA member. She muses gem options for color combinations like:

— Grayed Jade with Emerald: deep tsavorite with lighter tsavorites

— African Violet and Lemon Zest: purple and yellow sapphires

— African Violet and Monaco Blue: purple and classic blue sapphires

— Poppy Red and Monaco Blue: ruby and blue sapphire

Color experimentation among designers has been on the rise, especially in the past five years, cites jewelry stylist-to-the-stars Michael O'Connor, who worked the runways for the Reelz Channel, home to his new show "MovieStyle with Michael O'Connor." "Designers are taking more chances. There's a greater tendency for gems in more types, colors and combinations. Fashion historically used to be matchy, more monochromatic in how we adorned, and women could get away with all white diamond pieces. But this is no longer the case. Mixing prevails. Women are creating different color palettes around favorite apparel and even more so now around favorite jewelry items."

O'Connor sees a rise in multi-cultural influences in our color choices, especially India and China . Considering the rising cost of diamonds, O'Connor points out that white diamonds do not give enough bang for the buck when it comes to today's styles. "The impact of color in fashion is transforming the jewelry business, and the spotlight is on gemstones, which is great for jewelry makers and buyers as there are so many options in every color and price range."

Spring's Bouquet

It's not surprising green and blue are top trend tops, O'Connor notes, as designers and stylists have been moving away from warmer colors toward cooler ones since the fall of 2010. He reports that at the this year ‘s Primetime Emmy Awards, weeks prior to the runway shows in New York, red carpet interest was high for color mixes using green as a base. "I placed a lot of designs by Abellán New York in combinations like green chrysoprase with rubies or amethyst."

Emerald, in particular, is shaping up to be the color of 2013. "We've seen it building on the runways and red carpets the past few years," tells Randi Molofsky Lithgow, director marketing and communications U.S. for GemFields, leading producer of conflict-free emerald from Zambia and an AGTA member. "In fact, when E! Red Carpet host Giuliana Rancic was interviewing "30 Rock's" Jane Krakowski at the Emmy Awards, they proclaimed they were ‘having an emerald moment.' Giuliana wore AGTA member Sutra and Jane was in Lorraine Schwartz. A fresh, modern hue, Pantone's Emerald has a bluish undertone like Zambian."

Lithgow reports designers getting creative with their use of emeralds to make them more accessible to jewelry consumers, including using slices and rose cuts. She namedrops a few Gemfields is working directly with, including AGTA member Kimberly McDonald, Shaun Leane and Faberge.  Moreover, she sees a rise in consumer appreciation for included gems, as customers want one-of-a-kind stones that will set them apart from the crowd. "Women are actively seeking gems and colors that are uniquely suited to their personalities."

A true colorist, Bellarri has built her signature look around distinctive color mixes. The Scottsdale, Arizona-based, AGTA member designer cites her best selling designs as the ones that are unique in selection and configuration of gemstones. Trendsetting are designs like the necklace she nabbed a JCK Jeweler's Choice Award this year from her Circle of Love Collection, showcasing a nearly 3-carat cabochon blue topaz surrounded by blue topaz and iolite totaling nearly 15 carats with diamond accents on 10 strands of faceted blue topaz beads set in 18K rose gold; or a refreshing blend of soft-hued purple, pink and green amethyst, lemon quartz, and white topaz in a statement bracelet from her Diva Collection. To Bellarri, every design has a face and a personality that must be expressed.

Runway Muses

Nature continues to be a major muse for designers, especially water and its elements of fluidity, translucency, power, lightness, and range of hues; lush flora and fauna; abstract art; the bohemian spirit of the ‘60s and optimism of the ‘50s; the wild west; and Asian appeal. Ease is key for spring; pervasive are relaxed looks that fall away from the body.

Fashion industry intelligence group WGSN cites mega themes like pared-back tailoring mixed with geometric prints ala Native American crafts; sporty tailoring with postmodern influence; and sculptural silhouettes with a sci-tech edge. Perhaps the biggest takeaway is the significance of leather for spring, lightweight and colorful. Designers hit the runway in leather, including Rag & Bone, Jason Wu, Tommy Hilfiger, Kate Spade, and See by Chloé. Color, shape, style and detail are inspiring product development and collection creation.

Among the notable jewelry trends spied on the catwalks, there was undoubtedly a lot of wrist action: Rachel Roy had wrists full of bracelets. Marc by Marc Jacobs, Monika Chiang and Tommy Hillfiger stacked bangles. Donna Karan favored arm cuffs, while others focused on wrist cuffs like Michael Kors and Oscar de la Renta. DVF used large gold chain-link bracelets from her own jewelry brand produced by H.Stern.

Neckwear was big, as well. Tory Burch adorned her models in big charm necklaces, while Rodarte featured vintaged necklaces (and debuted ear cuffs). Oscar de la Renta also adorned in large necklaces of floral designs and big gem cabochons. Rachel Zoe used lots of chains, long and layered. And, Marchesa adorned in royal bling from Jaipur's Gem Palace, Indian inspired circa 1960s.

Known for its fashion and fine jewelry, Erickson Beamon adorned its second ready-to-wear collection—inspired by William Klein's 1966 cult film, "Who Are You, Polly Maggoo," a satire of the fashion industry—with dazzling jewels including crystal collars, headbands and drop earrings. And, Vivienne Tam, recognized for her Asian inspired fashions, launched her first jewelry collection in collaboration with TSL, one of the largest jewelers in China. The line, which features wood, jade, gold, garnet and agate, goes beyond style to the Five Elements of Chinese cosmology: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water to embolden the spirit and enhance energy when you wear her designs.

The big takeaway: Color continues to rock the runways in fashion and apparel, with greens and blues leading the trend for popular backdrops and foregrounds, as well as yellow and orange for punchy pop. Bracelets and statement necklaces rule! Nature is the preferred muse, with strong multi-cultural inspirations influencing a hodgepodge of creativity.


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