As legacy jewelry maisons continue to dominate the world of haute joaillerie, a handful of newcomers bring a modern, wearable sensibility to fine jewelry. A thoughtful focus on new-world luxury concepts, with designs geared toward self-purchasing women or consumers with an appreciation for handcrafted understatedness, could help this new jewelry crew take on the old guard.Prounis
Jean Prounis’ namesake Prounis collection launched in late October, but her signature “Nona” earring design has already been reordered twice by the cult Brooklyn jewelry shop Catbird.
Formerly the studio assistant to Jemima Kirke, Prounis is inspired by ancient goldsmithing techniques. The New York-based designer uses a unique 22-karat alloy to handcraft each piece. “The malleability of 22 karat allows the jewels to shape to the wearer. Each of our pieces begins with a matte finish but over time, the wearer’s skin oils polish the metal – creating a lustrous shine,” she said of the material.
Prices start at $290 for a single stud, exceeding $13,000 for a handwoven gold chain. Additional designs include cabochon pendants, South Sea pearl necklaces, and a modern rendition of trade rings – a historical style that was once used as a form of wearable currency.
“I appreciate longevity and I express that in the materials I use and the pieces I create. I design with the hope that a piece will exist for 1,000 years,” Prounis said.Alice Cicolini
Cicolini’s colorful and dynamic designs have earned her a clientele that she proudly describes as “women buying for themselves.”
“It’s women who are confident of their aesthetic and interested in jewels that resonate culturally, materially or in terms of the techniques,” she said of her client base, which can range in age from 16 to 70.
The designer, based in London, began her brand after graduating from Central St. Martins, and was attracted to the medium because “jewelry feels like the perfect environment for me, situated somewhere between fashion, art and craftsmanship.” With unconventional stone combinations, a delicate use of enamel and an attention to silhouette, Cicolini creates ethereal, whimsical designs.
Her feminine, romantic pieces — sold at Dover Street Market, Rare Market in Seoul and Browns in London — are priced from 500 pounds to in excess of 20,000 pounds, or $657 to $26,300-plus at current exchange. “I’m focused working on the concept of slow luxury, celebrating the beauty of ancient master craft and privileging artisanship alongside fine materials,” said the designer.Raphaele Canot
Canot’s brand has experienced a quick ascent. But her recent success follows an equally illustrious 18-year career designing for Cartier and De Beers. “Jumping from a creative director role in a prestigious maison to a creative entrepreneur role is liberating, scary and exciting…a wonderful cocktail for feeling inspired!” the London-based designer said.
With prices ranging from $1,500 to $10,000 and the average hitting around $2,500, Canot’s bright and enameled jewelry have earned her a clientele that she describes as “free-spirited; she knows what suits her. She lives her life with a happy elegance.”
Canot’s signature design — a bangle shaped like lips, enameled in red with a perimeter set in diamonds — has earned her a hefty stockist roster that includes Barneys New York, MatchesFashion.com, and Dover Street Market, among others. “They give me the scene my brand needs to grow and the confidence to do what I do best: effortless chic and spirited diamond jewelry for daily wear,” Canot said.Sarah Hendler
Hendler’s bauble-type approach to fine jewelry has earned her a whimsical reputation. Her signature Ethel ball ring is like a precious-set disco ball for the hand. Largely composed of 18k gold that is often enameled in bright tones, Hendler’s Los Angeles-based brand has grown to include a full range of pinky rings, earrings, necklaces and bracelets. Her objective is to “make something people love to see, feel and wear. Beyond a trend, something that will withstand the test of time.” Prices range from approximately $650 to $15,000 with merchandise sold at stores including Bergdorf Goodman and Broken English.