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The Softer Side

Jewelry designers are finding a new source of inspiration in an old craft: needlework.

NEW YORK — Jewelry designers are finding a new source of inspiration in an old craft: needlework.

The delicate patterns and textures of needlepoint, crochet, macramé, lace and fine knits are working their way into silver and gold interpretations in cuffs, necklaces, earrings and rings.

Vera Wang embraced the trend by looking to macramé for a new Seventies-influenced assortment within her Vera Wang Fine Jewelry Collection.

“I’m inspired by the classics and the handcrafting of antique jewelry,” said Wang. “I like mixing traditional elements according to a nontraditional sense of scale — putting something strong together with something fragile. There’s a nonchalance to it all that is very modern.”

One of Wang’s long necklaces includes amorphous floral shapes formed from a gold yarn-like strand and sporadically set in a simple gold chain, while a pair of button earrings is made of the same gold strand twisted into a spiral and culminating in a diamond.

In her S. Aufrichtig collection, Sheryl Aufrichtig focuses on lacy details. The designer’s Estrella cuff, for example, is a wide gold bracelet crafted to resemble a swatch of lace about the wrist. Her Goddess necklace showcases a garland of flowers delicately woven from gold and strewn along a chain.

“The aesthetic is moody, but a romantic moody,” said Aufrichtig. “The person I envision wearing it is hiding in the shadows. She is a bohemian and an unusual person, but one that’s still romantic. It’s very Morticia Addams. When you bring the metal into [the lace], it becomes wearable to a person who doesn’t wear things like a lace blouse. It’s a nice solution for people for whom lace isn’t modern.”

Up-and-coming costume jeweler Saya Hibino also is working with fabric inspirations to lighten up heavy metals, such as sterling silver and gold vermeil. Hibino, born in Kyoto, Japan, takes her cue from the laces and fabrics of kimonos produced in her family’s factory for generations.

Hibino duplicates these textures using a signature wax mold method. The process yields diaphanous lace rings and bracelets, as well as double-hoop earrings woven from metal and finished with a scalloped edging.

“It’s easy to be dull and pretend to be a strong woman,” said Hibino. “What I like to express through the combination of a soft, intricate look with a strong feel is my ideal image of a woman.”

This story first appeared in the July 11, 2005 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.