At first, I thought this blog would be easy as pie. Pick my favorite gemstone jewels that I saw this year? You got it.

As I’m sure you’ve heard, probably multiple times over Pantone named Marsala, a dusky, earthy red color, as its hue of the year for 2015. And while it’s gotten a range of reactions from media, there was a lot of positive feedback coming from the team here, including yours truly.

When celebrities step out on the red carpet, you can usually count on them (or their stylists) choosing the statement jewelry that will get noticed, opting for major drop earrings and bold colored gemstones to accent their fashions in all the right ways.

But lately we’ve been seeing celebrities moving in the other direction when they’ve made public appearances--they are choosing smaller, delicate pieces that create an understated yet pulled-together look.

This has been especially true with earrings, with a number of celebs donning studs, small drops or getting trendy with ear climbers. They also are wearing sleek rings and bracelets that accent without taking the eye too far from their fashion and beauty looks.

Scroll down to see some of the best of the minimal pieces that stars have been wearing lately.

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One of the best parts of this job and this industry is hands down not only getting to see all the amazing jewelry but also getting to talk to the people--manufacturers, designers, retailers--behind it.

This is especially true when these conversations take place in person and I get to hear, for example, the inspiration and idea behind a jewelry collection from the artist themselves.

Last week I was lucky enough to meet with a designer who was new to me, Lisa Kim, and hear firsthand about her new collection, “Windlords.”

With a feminine-yet-edgy look that I think will speak to the modern self-purchaser, Kim’s jewelry draws from other interests of hers--mythology, fantasy literature and ancient history. She also has a background in animation and has studied the techniques of chasing and repoussé.

She is based in Los Angeles, where she produces all her jewelry locally. It’s available in karat gold or sterling silver, and uses ethically sourced gemstones chosen for their color and features. Currently she sells in a few select stores but is looking to expand her presence in independent retailers.

The design aesthetic of her new Windlords collection is a direct reflection of Kim’s belief in the parallel between “the mythic hero and the modern woman,” offering a big, bold look for a more affordable price point. Scroll down to see a few of my favorites from my recent visit with Kim.

Moonstone shield ring

This is Kim’s “Shield” ring, made with a rose-cut moonstone, oxidized sterling silver and 18-karat yellow gold ($6,125).

On Wednesday night, Nashville, Tenn. played host to the 48th Country Music Association Awards, bringing attention back to celebrity red carpet style at a time when there aren’t many awards ceremonies.

Brecken HeadshotA few weeks ago, National Jeweler wrote about A. Jaffe’s new “Maps” collection, which is raising the bar on the idea of personalized jewelry by offering pieces that can be customized to depict a certain spot on the globe where something significant happened to the wearer.

I immediately was attracted to the product, and wanting to share it with our Facebook followers as well, posted it to our page that same day. To my surprise, a number of very supportive friends who have “liked” our page and follow our posts expressed the same feelings as me, unprompted, the next time I saw them.

We loved the idea of getting the piece made just for us. I’m sure this isn’t news to anyone, but most of my generation loves the option of being able to personalize and customize anything we own, and we generally love nostalgia and reminiscing as well, so this jewelry hit right on both of those points.

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Brecken HeadshotIn continuing with what I think unwittingly might have become another of my beats--weird and interesting jewelry (see: this gemstone cap)--I’ve got another discovery to share with you all.

Industrial designer Naomi Kizhner has developed a line of jewelry called “Energy Addicts.” It was part of Kizhner’s graduation project at Jerusalem’s Hadassah College, reflecting what would happen in an energy crisis in the future and a solution that harnesses the human body, particularly the flow of blood through our veins, as a renewable source of energy.

The jewelry is made of gold and 3-D printed biopolymer material, and attaches to various body parts in ways that would be able to use the kinetic energy we create without even thinking about it.

Kizhner told me over email that more than the practicality of the design and function of the jewelry, the most important part of the project was the psychology behind it.

“Theoretically speaking, I don’t know how far the idea is from reality. It’s mainly the question that I wanted to raise: Will we be willing to sacrifice our bodies in order to produce more energy?

My intention is mainly to provoke a discussion, to make us think about our possible futures.”

She adds that she chose that design aesthetic “to reach an organic-mechanic feel in order to contradict the two elements--the body versus the machine.”

Check out the pieces below. (I tried to pick out the least creepy pictures. Some of them were making the staff here at National Jeweler want to faint. For those with a morbid curiosity, though, here’s the website with more images.)

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Here’s the piece called “Blinker,” which harnesses the energy produced by blinking.

As a child of the ‘90s, I was big on the mood ring. Not to be deterred by the fact that they were basically always either dark blue or green no matter how I was feeling, they were a chosen accessory for me for a  while when I was young.

So when I saw an article on Huffington Post titled “This Gemstone Cap, Which Changes Color According To Brain Activity, Is The Mood Ring Of The Future,” naturally I had to click through. (In case the multitude of articles posted online and spread through social media haven’t somehow clued you in, we Millenials love to reminisce about the heyday of our childhood and the things we grew up with, what toys were popular back then, what cereals we were eating, and much more. So how could I not read the story that was going to update me on the modern-day mood ring?)

What I found was even cooler than I expected (other reactions when I shared the content included “creepy”). U.K.-based fashion studio The Unseen, led by Lauren Bowker, partnered with Swarovski to create a headpiece made of gemstones that change color in response to brain activity.

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Fashion studio The Unseen, led by Lauren Bowker, designed this cap that is covered in black spinel gemstones that respond to brain activity through color change.

National Jeweler

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Since 1906, National Jeweler has been the must-read news source for smart jewelry professionals--jewelry retailers, designers, buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers. From market analysis to emerging jewelry trends, we cover the important industry topics vital to the everyday success of jewelry professionals worldwide. National Jeweler delivers the most urgent jewelry news necessary for running your day-to-day jewelry business here, and via our daily e-newsletter, website and other specialty publications, such as "The State of the Majors." National Jeweler is published by Jewelers of America, the leading nonprofit jewelry association in the United States.
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