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THE ROMANCE OF THE STONES

Hollywood’s annual Golden Globes Awards ceremony at the beginning of January is usually the perfect arena to explore the year’s international trends in jewellery. This year was no exception – at the 63rd ceremony many celebrities choose to accessorise in platinum and diamonds. Reese Witherspoon wore bracelets and earrings combining both, while Geena Davis favoured a platinum, ruby and diamond cocktail ring by Jacob & Co plus Harry Winston ruby earrings. Keira Knightley wore classic Cartier, including a dazzling diamond hair clasp. Jessica Alba wore platinum and diamond chandelier earrings and bracelets. So the scene is set for a trend this year - linear earrings with length and movement, large stoned cocktail rings and bracelets all set in platinum.

Elsewhere, pop star “Pink” is said to be sealing her marriage to motocross racer Carey Hart with matching platinum wedding bands created by British luxury jewellery Designer of the Year 2005, Stephen Webster of London. Worldwide sales of platinum jewellery were healthy at the start of the year and it appears the demand will continue – the Platinum Guild International at Baselworld may have more details. Bridal rings in this metal continue to be popular despite its escalating price over recent months - consumers among the high-end bridal sector want it, particularly for men’s wedding rings. Serena Williams and Hugh Laurie have also been spotted out and about recently wearing platinum.

Diamonds of course will be with us forever, and this year they are generally bigger and bolder. William Goldberg of Fifth Avenue New York will show its diamond jewellery with its own, patented “Ashoka” diamond cut, an elongated antique cushion cut with rounded corners. CC-Pearls GmbH South Sea Pearl Center from Dusseldorf will also be at Baselworld to exhibit a range of high-end gold and platinum jewellery with pearls and precious stones.

Italian designers have for some time been in the driving seat when it comes to trends in gold jewellery design, which, like diamonds, are forever. Light and playful charm bracelets and earrings, plus yellow gold chains are coming back in a multitude of shapes and forms. Fashion shows this February in New York, Milan and Paris showed that gold is re-emerging as the designer’s metal of choice in fabric and jewellery. Leaders of fashion including Nicole Miller, Carolina Herrera, Vera Wang and Marc Jacob used gold to grace their catwalks during these fashion weeks. This trend towards gold, despite its higher prices, was also apparent in many jewellery stores in China during the Chinese Lunar New Year Festival. The latest jewellery collections manufactured by Italian designers and goldsmiths are created to be “across the board, a mix that rises above trends” so that there is something gold that appeals to everyone.

A metal deserving some mention is titanium, which is becoming popular with some jewellers who find it blends well with the currently fashionable white metals. Renowned for its hardness, the metal can also be wrought much thinner than other precious metals, making it suitable for men’s rings.

Last year ethnically inspired jewellery was hot; this year it is still a strong influence but is cooling now towards eastern and oriental influences. Chinese and Japanese imagery carved in gemstones of green, lavender and jade shades will feature strongly this year. There’s Dior’s collection of huge ornate jewellery such as long chandelier-like earrings and big dress rings in exotic colours. Diamonds often blend elegantly into Dior pieces made of stones such as amethyst, morganite, tsavorite and aquamarine. Long swinging gemstone necklaces almost down to the waist are definitely different for 2006. Garnets with their red hue and rubies featured strongly earlier this year, their burgundy wine colours warmed European consumers tired of a long cold winter. Warm red colours from Swarovski crystals make fabulous Victorian style chokers, the vintage look being a definite fashion trend. Pink is the “in” colour this spring – you will see it in the new jewellery collection of New York based Timeless Designs by Jacob & Bryan, who recently introduced their collection of elegant, early Victorian inspired jewellery revolving around pink gemstones. Using a wide palette of pink shades in their collections, they manage to evoke a sense of romance in the stone. There’s also some fun, original, nonconformist jewellery at Baselworld by D&G Jewels from Binda Italia, made in typical D&G style, for example, crosses and rosaries combined with their conspicuous logo.

This season some designers are getting their inspiration from Bollywood, while others are concentrating on creating healing and therapeutic Talisman-like jewellery from semi-precious stones such as blue lace agate and citrine, which are purported to possess healing qualities. Freshwater pearls and pendants, and hair accessories are also big news this year. The Golay Group of Lausanne have an extensive range of quality cultured pearls, pearl jewellery, diamonds and precious stones, and a completely new collection of Swiss-made pearl jewellery and accessories to launch at Baselworld. Wood and pearl creations – particularly long twists of freshwater pearls at navel height have hit the catwalks, and pendant mother-of-pearl rounds also take some of the limelight. In fact, this year there is something out there that will suit every taste, so there’s no need to go hungry …