By  on August 14, 2006

NEW YORK — Fine jewelers are set to complement ready-to-wear's dark and layered offerings for fall with delicate jewelry with a moody bent.

During the JA New York summer show and in company showrooms, designers juxtaposed feminine silhouettes with dark materials such as oxidized gold, rough-cut and black diamonds, hand-hammered gold and moody stones such as labradorite, prehnite and hematite used in rings, earrings, necklaces and bracelets. Popular silhouettes included small, dangling French-hook earrings, delicate Y necklaces, coil bracelets and charm rings.

"I love black diamonds, and people are starting to get it because black is so in," said Sunrise Ruffalo, co-owner of Kaviar and Kind, a three-year-old jewelry store in Los Angeles, who bought heavily into Mizuki's Tahitian pearl and black diamond pieces.

Ruffalo also noted the return of white metal jewelry, namely silver.

Nina Runsdorf, designer of the eponymous New York jewelry firm, is offering black, rhodium-plated micro pavé rings with matching charms, and beaded black and cognac diamond necklaces.

"People want things that are a little different," said Runsdorf. "The black rhodium complements the clothes. It's very modern looking."

Designer Annie Fensterstock showed rubies and pink sapphires set in a rustic-looking hammered-yellow gold bangle.

"My work is bold and feminine without being dainty," said Fensterstock. "Pink is a classic color that represents all sides of womanhood."

Ray Griffiths showed drop earrings with prehnite and chrysoprase set in his signature gold net setting, while designer Jamie Wolf created engraved-gold chandelier earrings with hanging prehnite stones in a collection inspired by royal tiaras.

"It's very much about old-world aesthetics done in contemporary shapes," said Wolf, who layered delicate gold chains with large carved and stone-laden pendants, and showed gold hoops with her signature antique-looking engraving.

"The look is toned down and a little more refined," said Jim Rosenheim, chief executive officer of Tiny Jewel Box in Washington who shopped JA to fill in for the holiday season.

Rosenheim projects an 8 to 9 percent increase in sales at his store over last year.

"From the retailers I've spoken to, business has been spotty," he said. "People are coming in from a soft July, but this month is better. We had a great July."Marie Helen Morrow, owner of Reinhold in San Juan, Puerto Rico, did the bulk of the buy for her store at previous trade shows in Europe and Las Vegas in the spring, but picked up a few extras at JA.

"More jewelry looks like it wasn't factory made," Morrow said. "It's more feminine and there's a lot of thought to it."

Morrow bought styles from Maya Jewels.

John Green, president and ceo of Lux, Bond & Green, which has nine stores throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts, projects an increase in sales over last holiday season, but it depends on the political climate.

"We're expecting high-single-digit increases, but so much of it depends on the global situation," Green said. "We have to watch it closely. So far, the American consumer has been resilient."

Attendance was down slightly at the trade show, to 13,000 visitors, compared with 13,900 last year. The number of vendors was the same as last year at 1,800.

On July 30, the Women's Jewelry Association held its 23rd annual Awards for Excellence at Pier Sixty on Manhattan's West Side. Awards went to Lisa Jenks for designer of fine jewelry and watches; Andrea Hill of the Bell Group for manufacturer, dealer, supplier; Debby Harvey of Shane Co. for retailer with more than 15 stores; Sally Furer of Robbins Bros. for retailer with fewer than 15 stores; Susan Rothman of Hearts on Fire for sales and merchandising; Marcee Feinberg of Lazare Kaplan International for marketing and communications; Victoria Gomelsky of Couture for editorial reporting, and Jennifer Luker of Platinum Guild for special services.

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