Join us for our weekly BAJ:Insight on the latest industry trends by Rachael Taylor, a freelance journalist who writes about jewellery for a number of titles, including The Financial Times, The Jewellery Editor and Retail Jeweller. In her 10 years reporting on the industry, she has travelled the globe to visit key industry fairs, descended a Fairtrade gold mine on top of a Peruvian mountain, toured silver jewellery factories in Thailand, and regularly has access to the most sparkling jewels and people in the business.
This past weekend, I joined 95,999 other people in attending the Vicenzaoro jewellery fair, which is, as the name suggests, just outside Vicenza in Italy. The fair is held twice a year but it is the January edition that excites a global audience of buyers the most, as they hunt through the fair for the best deals on Italian-made gold and new innovation and trends.
Vicenzaoro – The Jewellery Boutique Show
While I left the deal-making to the buyers, I did join in on the quest for all that was new and exciting. And here is what I found.
A new carat of gold
Viva la Gioia made its debut at Vicenzaoro, and as well as offering itself up as a new brand, it was propositioning jewellers with a brand new idea – 1ct gold. It is more of a brand name than a recognised carat weight and offers consumers the chance to buy into gold jewellery (its alloy contains just 4.17% of gold) at much lower prices. It’s kicked off this idea with a collection of gemstone line bracelets.
A new carat of gold by Viva la Gioia
Diamonds and fishing wire
As well as an incredible diamond cuff and ring set inspired by Wonder Woman, new(ish) Dubai-based brand Alessa Jewelry took a novel concept to Vicenzaoro – diamond jewellery that replaces gold with transparent fishing wire. While the diamonds are secured in precious metal settings, the band of the ring, for example (there were also bracelets and chokers), is wire. This gives the impression that the diamonds, which are arranged in an illusion setting to give the impression of one large stone, are floating on the skin.
Diamonds and fishing wire by Alessa Jewelry
Jewellery innovator Noor Fares showed off a torque that was set with a brand new type of gemstone – aquaprase. The gem, which looks a little bit like planet earth when in sphere format, is a newly discovered type of chrysoprase, coloured by chromium and nickel and found in Africa.
Jewellery designer – Noor Fares
A new type of gemstone – Aquaprase
You’re So Vine
One of the most exciting collections I saw at Vicenzaoro was You’re So Vine by Bea Bongiasca, a Milan-based jeweller who learned her craft in London. The fine jewels have rainbow-hued enamel-coated vines snaking around them, creating a pop of colour.
Milan-based jeweller – Bea Bongiasca
You’re So Vine collection by Bea Bongiasca
Leather or silver?
The most exciting moment at a trade show is when you find yourself looking into a showcase, asking ‘What the hell is that?’. Which is exactly what I did when I got to Pesavento’s stand. It had a trio of cuffs that looked very much like leather thongs, but the brand is known for its silver jewels, hence my confusion. Turns out, they were silver but had been treated to a satin finish that gave an illusion of roughness.
I would love to tell you exactly how Honor Omano makes this crust of tiny, specially cut diamonds stick to its jewels, but I’m afraid they told me that the technique is “a secret”. It’s not glue is all they would say. The result is an organic, rough texture that feels great when you run your finger over it.
Diamond ring by Honor Omano
Italy would not be Italy without a bit of flamboyance, and I discovered the show’s most flamboyant jeweller of all when my eye was drawn to the sheer craziness of the Amlé stand. Mannequins, wearing turbans and wrapped in more colours of textiles than you could count, showed off a mind-boggling collection of jewellery that was beyond eclectic and totally brilliant. The hallmark of this colourful Neapolitan brand is its use of hand-painted tambourines, for which it has secured the copyright.
Tambourine jewels from Amle
A very credible illusion
Illusion settings are now highly prevalent in diamonds, with jewellers either clustering stones together to create the impression of one large round diamond, or perhaps positioning small rounds in marquise-shaped settings to create the look of the much-harder-to-source fancy cut. Ititoli has gone down another route, setting diamonds above a patented mirrored bowl. This really catches the light and creates a big-diamond look for a small-diamond price.
Setting diamonds above a patented mirrored bowl
Italians love flexible gold, and you’ll see twisting, serpentine shapes everywhere you go in Vicenzaoro, usually achieved by setting gold scales over titanium wires that can stretch and bounce back to their original form. Masi Gioielli presented its own take on this, a patent-pending invention that uses titanium and gold to create one-size-fits-all rings and bracelets. What was different was the complexity of the shapes, which included many loops and twists, rather than just a simple coil structure.
Masi Gioielli’s collection
Piano key jewels
Hans D. Krieger, a brand better known for diamond bridal jewellery, presented an interesting showcase of black and white jewels. While the black jewels, set with diamonds, were made from acrylic, the ivory-hued jewels were made from elforyn, the same material used to create white piano keys.
Hans D. Krieger
Hans D. Krieger’s collection