By Ashley Davis
Ashley.Davis@nationaljeweler.com
Designer Ana Khouri, whose design is pictured here, has been one of fine jewelry's greatest innovators in recent years. Senior Editor Ashley Davis predicts she will reach new heights in the 2020s.
In this fourth installment of 20 Designers to Watch in 2020 and Beyond, meet four trailblazers who rise above their competitors, blurring the line between jewelry and art with their exquisitely avant-garde creations.


Their creativity is only rivaled by their technical prowess, as they achieve shapes and designs  rarely, or never, seen in the fine jewelry medium.

In the last decade, these four designers have broadened the scope of what is possible  and they’re nowhere near done. They will continue to push themselves and inspire their peers in the decade ahead.

Read the first three parts of the series, on designers who excel in color, bridal and updated classics, here

The Innovators: Ana Khouri, Fernando Jorge, Nikos Koulis, Vram

Ana Khouri
Founded: 2013
Based In: New York City
Key Retailers: The Row, Dover Street Market, Matches Fashion

Ana Khouri’s approach to jewelry is that of a fine artist, disregarding any preconceived notions of how one creates or defines the medium.

Jewelry editor and stylist Kareem Rashed explains, “Ana is not only innovative in terms of design; she’s challenging how we actually wear fine jewelry.

“Her pieces have everything that I think the modern woman wants: exceptional craftsmanship, a unique point of view, and an easy, effortless sense of glamour.”

As edgy styles of jewelry have become the new norm (think ear cuffs), Khouri has been the designer to continuously push the envelope, manipulating an earring to wrap around and cradle the ear, for example, or, most recently, linking earrings with a chain that lies across the head like a crown.  

The most innovative jewelry can, at times have a costume-like effect, but Khouri shatters the stereotype, designing for women who, like herself, adore bold, eccentric fashion.

Fernando Jorge
Founded: 2010
Based In: London
Key Retailers: Bergdorf Goodman, Matches, Net-a-Porter, Le Bon Marche 

Midway through the last decade, Fernando Jorge hit a comfortable design stride, making sleek, curving designs that communicate an easy-to-wear elegance.  

“He has an innate understanding of how jewelry works on a body, which gives his pieces—even those dripping in diamonds—this sensual, second-skin quality,” Rashed said.

But Jorge didn’t stay comfortable. In the last several seasons he’s entered a peak creative period, delivering an inspired proliferation of captivating designs, first with colored gemstones and then diamonds.

“It’s been wonderful seeing how Fernando’s collection has evolved over the past decade,” Rashed said. “Particularly in the last couple years, as he’s zeroed in on diamonds with his ‘Brilliant’ collection.”

If, at the end of the last decade, we did indeed enter Jorge’s golden age, expect to see much more from the designer in coming years.

Most recently, he experimented with a transformable design (acutely dissected by jewelry expert Marion Fasel on her site, The Adventurine), perhaps signaling a new design chapter.

Nikos Koulis
Founded: 2006
Based In: Athens, Greece
Key Retailers: Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus

Nikos Koulis has cemented his aesthetic as unapologetically bold, geometric and Art Deco-inspired but, rather than pigeonholing the designer, these parameters have inspired a never-ending stream of impossibly good work.

Koulis has influenced jewelry design to the extent that one could be forgiven for forgetting the many current jewelry trends he’s championed, such as the resurgence of enamel, unique diamond cuts, and bold color in unexpected combinations.

Before IHPR Jewelry Director Jennifer Gach worked with Koulis as a client in her current role, she developed an affinity for the designer, often featuring him in the pages of Elle magazine.

“I’ve been a huge fan of Nikos since the moment I discovered his work,” she said.

“We met in Paris while I was covering market as jewelry editor at Elle. I was completely blown away by his modern settings, incredible stones and use of enamel. It was early into my career and I credit Nikos with sparking my love of jewelry. He never ceases to amaze me, season after season.”

Koulis will continue to entrance editors and buyers into the 2020s, combining the best qualities of his early 20th-century inspirations with an unmatched and directional refinement.  

Vram
Designer: Vram Minassian
Founded: 2010
Based In: Los Angeles
Key Retailers: Bergdorf Goodman, Goop, Maxfields, Broken English

Vram Minassian’s recent rise is remarkable because his thoroughly developed artistic voice is so different from that of his peers.

“Vram is one of the most unique designers I have come across in a while,” said Goop Fashion Buyer Olivia Nathanson. “His designs are bold and distinguishable in the best way.”

Minassian’s work accesses primal forms, echoing the shapes of bones or even sound waves, a Rorscach test of shapes to be interpreted in myriad ways.

He also exhibits one of the most mature and refined viewpoints of color in fine jewelry now, creating subtle tonal masterpieces with an unmatchable eye for gemstone selection.

Like all the designers on this list, Minassian’s genius lies in his ability to marry his creative shapes and proportions with utter comfort and wearability, never sacrificing the latter for the former.

Nathanson said, “I love that so much of his collection is made up of statement pieces that you want to wear every day, not just for an occasion.”

“You can see and feel the inherent attention to detail and creative invocation in his jewelry. Each piece is a work of art.”





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