Bright Ideas from Forward-Thinking Jewelers

Getting creative: Three retail companies’ innovations in design and technology push the boundaries of style and service.

May 23, 2023  |  Joyce Kauf
Picchiotti Reversible Xpandable collection

Out of this world

Imagine wearing something that’s not only billions of years old, but also from outer space. Chris Ploof takes iron from the 4.5 billion-year-old Gibeon meteorite and transforms it into hand-fabricated rings, bracelets, necklaces and cuff links with a contemporary vibe.

From his solar-powered studio in Leominster, Massachusetts, Ploof uses a proprietary forging technique to enhance the iron’s corrosion resistance. It was the meteorite’s weight and “uniquely patterned crystal structure” that initially attracted him to the material. He has since pioneered combining this metal with gold, platinum, diamonds and other gemstones.

But the self-described “mad jewelry scientist” took a circular route to his current profession. Cycling was both an avocation and vocation for him, and he enrolled in an adult education class on lost wax casting to learn how to produce bicycle parts.

Image: The Gibeon meteorite Chris Ploof forges into jewelry is 4.5 billion years old.

There, he discovered a new passion, and in 2004, he founded Chris Ploof Designs. “I think I forced myself on the jewelry industry,” says Ploof, who didn’t really plan to be an innovator; rather, “I set out to work with materials that I like.”

Fortunately, he reports, “the response has been very positive.” His creations are available at retailers across North America and Europe, and he notes that “we don’t gender our jewelry.”

He hopes to keep “innovating and disrupting. We make unique products to be passed down to future generations for whoever wants to wear them.”

Luxe with a twist

It’s always good to have options — especially when they come in 18-karat gold and gems. Valenza-based Italian jewelry house Picchiotti fuses artistry and engineering in its Reversible Xpandable collection, featuring pieces that flip over to reveal two different designs.

From solid gold to diamonds or from sapphires to rubies, these two-in-one looks offer day-to-night versatility and make it easy to color-coordinate jewelry and outfits. The line of necklaces, bracelets, earrings and rings is available in a range of gems and colors at prestige retailers in the US and abroad.

“Keeping today’s lifestyle in mind, we envisioned a simple gesture that would allow for a more elegant or sportier look,” says Maria Carola Picchiotti, the second generation to work at the company that her father, Giuseppe, founded in 1967. The collection, which launched in fall 2022, “was a collaborative effort between the designers who engineered the mechanism, and the goldsmiths who applied it so that it would work perfectly,” she relates. “The major challenge was to ensure that both sides would lie completely flat on the wrist, finger or neck.”

Currently patent-pending, the Reversible Xpandable line capitalizes on the patented Xpandable technology the brand introduced in 2016. True to its name, the design lets bracelets and rings expand or contract to solve the problems of ring sizing and cumbersome clasps.

“People think of Picchiotti as a very classic jewelry brand, but it takes a lot of innovation to continue finding fresh ways of creating classic styles that stand the test of time,” says Picchiotti. The company plans to unveil new designs at the Couture show in Las Vegas.

Enjoy your stay

Accessorizing your haute couture while traveling just got easier. Vivrelle, an exclusive rental service for designer handbags and jewelry, has launched a partnership with the Four Seasons Hotel Houston and the Four Seasons Private Residences Los Angeles to offer guests complimentary access to its wares.

“Four Seasons is a like-minded partner that we have always admired and loved,” says Blake Geffen, who founded Vivrelle in 2018 with her husband Wayne. A members-only club, Vivrelle allows its clients to borrow designer pieces with no return date. Membership fees start at $45 a month.

“Our brands share an affinity for providing a luxury experience rooted in convenience, care, and customers first,” says Geffen, and this common ground inspired Vivrelle to initiate the partnership.
Guests at the Four Seasons properties can select from items that have been carefully curated to appeal to them. They can keep the pieces for the duration of their stay and swap out styles as they desire.

While the guests don’t need a Vivrelle membership to use the service, they can sign up for one on site to gain access to the club’s entire closet. Members can also purchase items at discounted prices.

“This partnership will expand our reach across the country,” says Geffen, and it will further the company’s aim of making accessories “fun, flexible, affordable and sustainable.”

This article is from the May-June 2023 issue of Rapaport Magazine. View other articles here.

Main image: Picchiotti Reversible Xpandable collection. (Picchiotti)

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Picchiotti Reversible Xpandable collection Bright Ideas from Forward-Thinking Jewelers

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