Designers are putting a refreshing spin on diamond classics like studs, bracelets and rivières.
A diamond tennis bracelet or rivière can be a rock-solid investment both financially and sartorially. Like a pair of diamond stud earrings or a pendant, they are classics to which people return time and again because they are easy to wear, safe, reliable and glamorous. At the Emmys in September, vintage diamond rivières, chokers and studs made an impression on the red carpet, adding an old-Hollywood vibe to the occasion.
Many of those celebs kept their diamond looks simple, but there is a growing trend to mix up these classics and make them less formal — to wear them “with a tennis shoe instead of a heel,” in the words of retailer Stan Razny, owner of Razny Jewelers in Chicago, Illinois.
Layer by layer
The predilection for expressing individuality through neck messes means a diamond necklace can add sparkle to daytime jewelry in a playful mix of chains, funky beads and talismans without looking too showy. Diamond tennis bracelets are similarly adaptable: They can be stacked with any number of other bracelets, beads, and leather thongs for a luxe bohemian look.
There is high demand for layerable pieces, affirms New York designer Melissa Kaye. “We have clients that stack and layer extensively” — though others prefer a more minimalistic look, she reports.
“Diamond jewelry is very versatile,” notes Razny, whose marketing imagery is a lesson in how to dial up the glamour for evening by wearing multiple diamond pieces together. But how about for day? That, he says, depends on clients’ preferences: “They can layer their classic diamond necklace with a gold chain or semiprecious gemstone necklace. However, they can also choose to wear one diamond piece solo.” Hence his tennis-shoe suggestion for a casual look. “The juxtaposition of denim jeans and a t-shirt with classic diamond pieces can also be interesting.”
Playing with cuts and colors
Rivières, tennis bracelets and ear studs are perennial best sellers at Harry Winston and Tiffany & Co. Marquise-cut diamonds update these staples at the former, while Tiffany is unveiling a new line of rivières, pendants and bracelets that use a touch of yellow gold to accent platinum-set diamonds.
Giving a fresh twist to old favorites is a great opportunity for designers, but as Kaye points out, it can also “be a deceptively difficult design challenge.” She incorporates unexpected elements in her own versions, such as a repeating pattern of graduated diamonds for her Ashley necklace, or a removable enamel-set gemstone clasp for a pop of color.
“It’s no longer about a single thread of diamonds,” says Tanaz Shayan, cofounder of Shay in Los Angeles. She, too, has found ways to tweak the rivière without diminishing its timelessness, such as using different stone cuts, adding personalized names, or setting a single colored gem among diamonds. She’s also introduced a black gold setting to enhance the stones.
Fellow Los Angeleno Anita Ko is using bezel-set pear-cut diamonds for tennis bracelets, and little round brilliants in flame-shaped links for other bracelets. And designer Suzanne Kalan’s clients repeatedly return to her signature baguette diamonds for rivières and tennis bracelets.
“Baguettes are muted enough in any size to be worn casually or dressed up,” explains the California-based Kalan, citing Fireworks and Inlay as her two best-selling lines because they’re flexible enough to “stack perfectly with classic and modern-day pieces.” She recently added a collection of princess cuts with baguette accents.
The diamond ear stud is also getting a modern makeover. Ko uses marquises and pears for these standbys, while Shayan’s clients come back for ear jackets or cluster studs to update their look.
While consumers love the style flexibility of diamond staples, they are equally interested in the pieces’ investment potential, believes Kalan. “My design ethos has always been…contemporary yet classic for this very reason. Contemporary so that everyone, regardless of age, will love wearing the pieces, but classic enough that they can be passed through generations while maintaining their value.”
Kaye agrees: “There is always the demand for the classics, but I do think that in times of economic uncertainty, the consumer tends to lean toward tried-and-true silhouettes rather than pieces that could be seen as ‘trendy.’ At the end of the day, purchasing fine jewelry is an investment, so prioritizing styles that have and will stand the test of time is the wisest choice.
Image: Anita Ko