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NEW YORK — The hot contemporary jewelry category will be the focus of an exhibition that opens today at the Forbes Galleries on Fifth Avenue.
Although demand for estate jewelry remains high, contemporary jewelers — including Lorenz Bäumer, Adria de Haume and Stephen Webster — are rocking the market with edgy designs and craftsmanship.
“What makes great contemporary jewelry great is that it has its own unique style and will stand on its own,” said Judith Price, president of the National Jewelry Institute, which is celebrating contemporary jewelers in its 2008 Designer Showcase.
The institute is a six-year-old nonprofit organization with a mission to preserve, research and exhibit fine jewelry from around the world. The organization holds two exhibitions each year in locales such as New York, London and Paris. The latest runs through June 20 and will move to the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh from July 23 to the end of the year.
Ralph Esmerian, the jewelry and antiques collector and owner of Fred Leighton, curated the exhibit along with guest curators Beth Rudin DeWoody, Saks Fifth Avenue and World Gold Council. Among the 40 brands are Cinta by John Hardy, Mia Fonssagrives-Solow, Graff and Cartier.
“Jewelry, like fashion, changes,” said Price, who noted that firms such as Gucci and Giorgio Armani heard about the show and contacted her to be part of it. “That’s what this show tried to do.”
The institute also will help fledgling designers sell their pieces through the show and trunk shows, but will not take a profit.
“My goal would be that we get more international designers, so the NJI will be a platform for individual designers to show off what they’re doing,” Price said.