Jewelry Designers Make Surprise Moves

A venerable diamond house goes playful, while two jewelry designers join forces.

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Mark Davis for Monique Pean’s 18-karat yellow gold, 18-karat white gold, fossilized mammoth ivory, smoky quartz, black spinel and ruby bangles.

Thomas Iannaccone

A VINTAGE PAIR: On the surface, jewelry designers Monique Péan and Mark Davis seem to have little in common. Davis is best known for his metalsmithing techniques — as in Bakelite cuffs inlaid with gold — while Péan, a recent CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund nominee, is associated with the use of sustainable materials, such as reclaimed gold and fossilized walrus. But as it turns out, the two have plenty of similarities, too, and now have become collaborators in the Mark Davis for Monique Péan collection.

This story first appeared in the August 31, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“It was a natural fit,” says Péan. “We both have a dedication to traditional craftsmanship. We both use vintage materials. Mark uses vintage Bakelite, and I use prehistoric woolly mammoth.” Davis and Péan are also seriously involved in finding solutions for the clean-water crisis. She donates proceeds to Charity: Water; he, to the Waterkeeper initiative. And yet another coincidence: Both happened to start their careers in investment banking before making the switch to fashion.

This limited edition collection, which retails from $627 to $2,959, features a mix of their sensibilities. The lineup of woolly mammoth cuffs and pendant earrings are clean and streamlined, punctuated by the occasional gemstone or inlaid with thin notches of gold. And in line with the duo’s altruistic inclinations, 10 percent of all profits will go to Waterkeeper.

LET IT SNOW: The Amsterdam-based Royal Asscher diamond company has had a number of milestones in its 155-year history. In 1903, Joseph Isaac Asscher (son of founder Isaac Joseph) was charged with cleaving the 997-carat Excelsior diamond and, four years later, he did the same for the celebrated Cullinan — aka Star of Africa — diamond, which clocked in at a whopping 3,106 carats.

Fast-forward to 2009, and the Asschers are now making their diamonds float.

The new Star of Africa ring collection takes its cues from a typical snow-globe souvenir. But the “snow” here is decidedly luxe: tiny round brilliant-cut diamonds. There are three different styles, including one rimmed with diamonds, in various 18-karat rose, white and yellow gold hues. Larger sizes include one carat’s worth of round brilliant-cut diamonds and the smaller styles, half a carat. Prices for the collection, which debuts this fall, range from $4,800 to $7,900. Proceeds from the sale of the rings will go towards sponsoring children in Sierra Leone, Africa.

The biggest challenge, says Lita Asscher, president of Royal Asscher of America, was finding the proper liquids to use. “If the diamonds moved too slowly — boring. If it was too fast, boring,” she says. “We tried about 25 different densities before deciding on this one. And we had to make it in a way that the globe doesn’t look like part of a toy.”

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