By Ashley Davis
Lydia Courteille’s octopus earrings will debut at Couture.

I’ve covered fine jewelry for a few years, but this year marks my first trip to Las Vegas for the massive jewelry market week. I recently joined the team at National Jeweler to cover style, trends and designers, and Couture just happens to be housing a slew of my favorites.

There are twelve brands in particular that I’m dying to see. I’ll start with an obvious choice that’s just too good not to mention right from the get-go.

Tomasz Donocik was one of last year’s big winners at the Couture Design Awards, and he’s won two awards prior during his first Couture showing in 2013. Vegas has been good to Tomasz but only because he’s been so good to Vegas, delivering gems like this rose gold and emerald stunner.

20160527 10x 12Couture Designers-1Tomasz Donocik’s 18-karat rose gold ring with emeralds
If diamond halo engagement rings are the popular sellers of the moment, this asymmetrical, emerald-loaded halo would be my dream version. It’s from Tomasz’s forthcoming “Stellar” collection, which I can’t wait to see in person.

I became aware of Completedworks a couple of years ago with the debut of their “Pillar” collection. I appreciate designer Anna Jewsbury’s conceptual approach to design. Her gold and pearl “Tank” pieces blew me away.  

20160527 10x 12Couture Designers-2Completedworks’ 18-karat yellow gold necklace with white diamonds and amethysts
The new collection, “Fluid,” marks the steady progression of Completedworks’ designs from literal to abstract. “Fluid” is the brand’s most wearable collection yet, but no less striking for its accessibility.

It’s difficult to contain the hyperbolic types of praise I want to heap upon Lydia Courteille. Her imagination, creativity and skill are beyond description.

The below octopus earrings feature the most stunning shades of enamel for a delicious ombré effect that culminates in dangling pink sapphires. They’re the perfect addition to her trove of sea creatures.

20160527 10x 12Couture Designers-3Lydia Courteille’s 18-karat gold earrings with enamel, sapphires and pink sapphires
In my opinion, it’s Lydia’s world, and we’re just living in it.

On to another established designer: Irene Neuwirth’s exquisite sense of color and stone placement can’t be fully appreciated from a picture (the same goes for a lot of fine jewelry but I find it particularly true of Irene’s designs). 

Her eye and understanding of stones’ aesthetic relationships to one another is a rare gift. Some designers hide behind stones but Irene’s fingerprint is visible from a mile away.

Almost everything she creates is one-of-a-kind, like this boulder opal work-of-art.

20160527 10x 12Couture Designers-4Irene Neuwirth’s 18-karat yellow and white gold necklace with boulder opals, fire opals, emeralds, sapphires, aquamarines, tourmalines, opals, Peruvian opals, turquoise and diamonds

Silvia Furmanovich is a total trailblazer; she’s constantly breaking down design barriers. I’m a huge fan of her resin pieces that encapsulate orchid petals.  

The below Muiparinga red wood earrings employ classic marquetry artisan-work to achieve their feather-like pattern.

20160527 10x 12Couture Designers-5Silvia Furmanovich’s 18-karat yellow good and Muirapiranga marquetry red wood earrings with citrine and light brown diamonds
Silvia’s pieces emit a visceral connection to nature that is simultaneously modern and elegant.

Moving on to a young designer who has managed to make a big splash in relatively few years, I’m excited to see Noor Fares' latest offerings. 

It looks like she’ll be showing a brand-new motif in Vegas, very geometric like many of her past designs, but with a new level of intricacy and sophistication.

20160527 10x 12Couture Designers-6Noor Fares’ 18-karat gray gold earrings with London blue topaz, amethyst, peridot, pink tourmaline, citrine, aquamarine, orange garnet and white diamonds
I love the channel-set stones on the side of these exquisite hoop earrings. 

When I think of Deborah Pagani, I think glamour, and these descending pill earrings are exactly that. 

20160527 10x 12Couture Designers-7Deborah Pagani’s 18-karat white gold earrings with white diamonds and blue sapphires
I’m convinced that blue sapphires should always be paired with white diamonds. The combination is classic but Deborah’s Deco-inspired designs still manage to convey a contemporary edge.

Speaking of contemporary, Fernando Jorge has some of the most exquisite ear candy this year. His new collection is full of climbers, ear jackets and studs perfect for sporting in multiple piercings. 

20160527 10x 12Couture Designers-8Fernando Jorge’s 18-karat rose gold earrings with diamonds, rubies, rubellites and tourmalines
I love this combination of rubies, rubellites and tourmalines in particular.

I’ve been a huge fan of Fernando for years, but discovering new designers is like an addiction to me.

I found Mania Zamani not long ago while trapped in an Instagram black hole (when one post leads to another to another to another). 

20160527 10x 12Couture Designers-9Mania Zamani’s 18-karat yellow gold ring with white diamonds

I’m enamored with her graphic, geometric shapes. Fresh on my radar, I can’t wait to meet Mania and learn everything about her. She’s someone to keep an eye on.

Stunning jewels like Yeprem’s below hand-piece blur the line between jewelry and magic. I love their combinations of fancy-cut diamonds and gemstones.

Yeprem’s hand-pieces convey the ultimate red-carpet drama; why else would Madonna always be wearing them? 

20160527 10x 12Couture Designers-10Yeprem’s 18-karat white gold hand-piece with emeralds
The above piece speaks to me in particular because of the fabulous pear-shaped emeralds. Nothing quite compares to an emerald’s glow and it’s fantastic to see them Yeprem-fied.

A newbie I can’t wait to meet is Reem of R.Y.M. Jewelry.

She’s another designer who intuitively understands color. She has a fabulous collection of Art-Deco-esque pieces (I predict that updated Art Deco is going to be a trend at Couture; you heard it here first!), but most interestingly, she designs convertible pieces.

20160527 10x 12Couture Designers-11R.Y.M. Jewelry’s 18-karat yellow gold tag with white diamonds, blue sapphires and pink sapphires
The above “tag” can be worn multiple ways, attached to an R.Y.M. bracelet, pendant, earring or ring. Innovative without sacrificing attention to design, I think R.Y.M. is going to be a big hit at Couture. 

But of course, not only the up-and-comers can innovate. The inimitable Stephen Webster makes convertible jewelry as well. This breath-taking collar can be worn with a tail of diamond feathers or with a stunning, single solitaire.   

20160527 10x 12Couture Designers-12Stephen Webster’s 18-karat white gold convertible collar with white diamonds
I find the “Magnipheasant Feathers Convertible Collar” to be even more otherworldly in white diamonds than in the rainbow edition I’ve seen before, and this coming from a girl who typically loves color.

Stephen Webster is the epitome of why the jewelry industry is such a special one; designers support their own and Stephen does a wonderful job of curating the group of Rock Vault jewelers. Several of my favorite designers, including some on this list, were supported through the initiative. Stephen will likely be my very first stop on Thursday.

By the time I’m back from Vegas, I expect to be utterly exhausted, have a whole new group of discoveries to obsess over and a deeper appreciation for the talents I came to see.  

Get the Daily News >
National Jeweler

Fine Jewelry Industry News

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.