Jewelry Designers Embrace New Types of Customization

TrendsJul 15, 2016

Jewelry Designers Embrace New Types of Customization

Designers are exploring inventive ways for customers to personalize beyond monograms and birthstones.

In lieu of monograms and birthstones, several jewelry designers are exploring inventive ways for customers to personalize. Pictured here is a fortune locket from Fortune & Frame.

New York--Ask any jewelry designer what they love about their medium and, at some point, they undoubtedly will mention its personal nature.

Monograms and birthstones exemplify the intimate appeal of jewelry by aligning a piece with sentimentality. The prevalence of personalized styles in contemporary jewelry design is a testament to their salability.

A recent crop of designers is pushing the boundaries of classic personalization, however, to encompass novel and interesting ways to customize.

A.Jaffe has found success with its Maps collection, in which a charm depicts an engraved cross-section of a map with a diamond marking an exact location of the customer’s choosing.

A.Jaffe’s 14-karat rose gold pendant with white diamonds (starting price $1,295)

CEO Sumay Bhansali explained, “Maps by A.Jaffe was created when a void in the market was identified for unique customized pieces that were as sentimental as they were fashionable. Some of our best memories have much ado about location, and the concept of engraving the specific place a meaningful moment took place was something no one had seen before. It relates so well to love, like the location of a first kiss, where you got engaged, said “I do,” celebrated your honeymoon, etc., but also for so many other life milestones--graduation, a study abroad, a big move, a first home purchase--so we knew it would have a broad audience.”

Bhansali noted that many customers go on to buy more than one piece of map jewelry.

“We see many repeat purchases, collectors who continually engrave different maps for new moments, and a high volume of purchases for gifts, from bridesmaids/grooms gifts to Mother’s Day,” he said.

British designer Jade Jagger updates a classic horoscope motif with her constellation pendants. She sets diamonds into the constellations of each zodiac sign in rhodium-plated sterling silver over a semi-precious stone, much like a classic medallion.

Jade Jagger’s rhodium-plated sterling silver pendant with rose quartz and white diamonds ($1,713)

“People love to have unique pieces that are personalized,” she said. “Jewelry is a very intimate thing that is treasured by the owner and often given to represent special moments in one’s life. Every piece we make is individual and so many are bespoke.”

The demand for the designer’s bespoke pieces led to the constellation series, which suits Jagger’s ethereal, stone-heavy aesthetic.

“I have always been fascinated by constellations and the stars; they hold so much magic and mystery beyond our understanding,” she said.

York-based designer Gretel Going is the brains behind Fortune & Frame, a jewelry line that features fortune-cookie fortunes framed in metal cases as pendants.

The idea was born when Going found herself holding on to a particular fortune that resonated with her, and ultimately decided to design a way to wear it.

This 14-karat yellow gold-plated brass pendant from Fortune & Frame holds the fortune, “Let disruption and discomfort be your guides.” It retails for $145.

“It’s funny,” said Going, “I actually considered not offering customization of our fortunes to customers at first. I thought that part of the fun of getting a fortune (from a cookie) was the idea of being surprised by what message you receive. It didn’t take long for me to realize that people think it’s even more fun to put their own messages on their fortunes, either an inspiring quote for themselves or a meaningful saying for someone else.”

Demand for customization was so high that Going has expanded it beyond her framed fortune pendants.

She explained, “Being able to customize the paper fortunes that come with our lockets and fortune cookie pieces became so popular that we introduced engravable fortune pendants. I thought that people might have a hard time thinking of what they want to say and fall back on our fortunes, but most people write their own. We see each and every fortune ordered through our site, and take it very seriously that people use our pieces to express intimate feelings of love to one another, as well as immortalize hopes they have for themselves.”

Reem Mobassaleh, the designer behind R.Y.M. Jewelry, which debuted in Couture’s Design Atelier this year, has created her own system of customization, through a code in which a symbol corresponds to a number, in a collection she has dubbed “Diamond Digits.”

Diamond Digits allows customers to commemorate a date or set of numbers, in a graphically interesting way, while keeping the significance of the digits private.

R.Y.M. Jewelry’s 18-karat yellow gold necklace with white diamonds ($675 per charm, $2,050 for bar necklace)

“I started out in jewelry creating bespoke pieces for clients and loved the personal experience I could engage my customer in,” said Mobassaleh. “When thinking about how to open up that experience to a wider audience I wanted to keep that customization unique, subtle and elevated.”

Though R.Y.M. Jewelry is still being introduced to buyers and press, Diamond Digits has already been making an impact.

“We have had a great reception,” she said. “Our customers keep coming back for themselves and for gifts for others. We have also enjoyed strong engagement from press with some great articles, mentions and features. Buyers similarly have been drawn to the unique aesthetic and pioneering personalization aspects of the collections.”

Loquet London was founded in 2013 on the idea of updating a classic locket: Instead of enclosing a picture, why not feature a customer’s choice of charms floating behind a transparent crystal casing?

The idea took off. Loquet London now retails at dozens of department stores and independent boutiques worldwide, as well as on the company’s website, where customers can virtually build their locket, choosing the size and style, plus any combination of charms to go inside.

Loquet London’s 18-karat white gold locket with diamonds ($7,995) with tanzanite charm ($160), 18-karat gold and diamond hug charm ($400), 18-karat gold tree charm ($160) and 18-karat gold and diamond shooting star charm ($400)

“From the very start, our interactive website provided the perfect platform for audiences to engage and play with the customizable aspect of the product, it is just really addictive and fun,” said designers Sheherazade Goldsmith and Laura Bailey. “More and more people want what they wear to reflect their own unique style, as well as having a hand in its design and finish. At Loquet we actively encourage this creative process and the response has been tremendous.”

Technology’s role in customization has yet to be deeply explored.

Andrea Fohrman offers a moon-tracker on her website, so clients can identify the phase of the moon on a momentous occasion, or more ambitiously, Love & Robot’s “Windswept” collection provides wind data for a particular date and place, allowing customers to “blow wind” matching the data’s recorded speed and direction over a virtual cloth or ribbon, then pause it so the design can be printed into jewelry.

No matter the specifics of the continued innovations in personalized jewelry, the new customization trend is here to stay.

Goldsmith and Bailey explained, “By allowing people to create they become emotionally connected with a piece, imbuing meaning and sentiment into something that is truly their own.”
Ashley Davisis the senior editor, fashion at National Jeweler, covering all things related to design, style and trends.

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