By Ashley Davis
Melissa Kaye’s best-selling Cristina hoop earrings in 18-karat gold with enamel and diamonds
New York—It’s worth noting that when Melissa Kaye decided to forego her finance career at Goldman Sachs to pursue a more fulfilling venture, she toyed with the idea of opening a boxing gym.

Luckily for fine jewelry enthusiasts, the New Yorker settled on a less-sweaty medium, enrolling in FIT’s rigorous associate’s degree in jewelry design before launching her eponymous collection.

Still, most days you’ll find her at the gym sparring with her trainer and that love of athleticism may have inadvertently spilled over to her day job.

Originally introduced at the Couture jewelry trade show this year, Kaye’s new enamel collection stood out from the sea of other enamel pieces with its bright-neon hues, echoing the 1980s’ color palette and athleisure-mania that has been consuming the fashion industry.

In addition to classic black and white, Kaye breathed new life into a mix of her new and best-selling jewelry styles with tennis-ball yellow, traffic-cone orange and Malibu-Barbie pink shades of enamel.

“We think of this collection as fun luxury,” Kaye said. “Like many New Yorkers, I tend to substantially dress in black, gray, and neutrals. However, I do love bright colors; it’s always fun to inject a pop of color into an otherwise neutral wardrobe.”

Copping to being “a bit of a sneaker head” with several neon pairs in her closet, the designer said athleisure’s expansion has been a personal plus for her, a self-confessed “gym rat who is always running around the city.”

But introducing neon enamel in fine jewelry was hardly a no-brainer, requiring a year of experimentation with the enamel process itself and color selection.

She explained: “We have wanted to add enamel to the collection for some time. We decided that our best‐selling Cristina earring was the natural starting point. As the style has a significant following, this was a great opportunity to inject a new flavor into the mix.”

Kaye, who produces her collection in New York City, was so happy with the final result that she branched out into additional styles beyond the Cristina, which were a hit with retailers like Net-a-Porter, Elyse Walker and Moda Operandi.

“We chose neon because we love it; neon is happy, timeless and oddly neutral.”

While the hues are fashion-forward, the silhouettes remain sleek and sophisticated, softening the color impact.

Every style is also available without enamel, in classic gold, with or without diamonds and gemstones.

“We pride ourselves on honing in on what our buyers, store owners and customers love and how they wear our jewelry,” Kaye said.

“Some have a more conservative, classic approach while others layer on and mix‐and-match … there really are no rules. We are so fortunate to have an endless supply of muses. It’s amazing how everyone can wear the collection in her own unique way.”

The collection hit retailers’ shelves as early as the summer.

During New York Fashion Week, Kaye introduced her buyers to new enamel pieces that will be in stores for the upcoming holiday season (in below slideshow), like earring and “Needle Pendant” size and color variations, including two-tone enamel styles.

The collection starts at $425 retail for a single small “Cristina Earring” and caps off at $12,500 for the diamond and enamel “Lola” cuff, though most of the collection retails for under $5,000.

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