FROM VOWS TO VEILS, MAKING IT PERSONAL

Byline: Wendy Hessen

NEW YORK — Though the classics still rule, melding fashion with personal style has become an important consideration when it comes to bridal accessories.
From the engagement ring to accessories and gifts for the wedding party, creativity and an individualized feel are more important than ever, according to accessories makers.
New diamond cuts have become a major way to attract prospective couples. In September, Tiffany launched Lucida, its first new cut in more than five years, and Asprey & Garrard introduced its Eternal cut in May.
“Lucida gives a bride another choice in a patented cut with contemporary style,” said Melvyn Kirtley, group vice president of Tiffany & Co. “The squareness of the stone and its brilliance are what have been particularly appealing about Lucida.”
Kirtley said color in general was attracting brides. Yellow is the favored hue for colored diamonds and three-stone rings are coming on strong, he noted.
“With a three-stone style, sometimes its three diamonds, but having the colored stone in the center is also becoming more popular lately, as demand for colored stones in general has risen,” Kirtley said. “Regardless of the placement of the stones, classic rubies and sapphires lead, followed by emeralds.”
Asprey & Garrard has its own diamond cut, as well.
“The millennium has resulted in a huge increase in engagements,” said Colleen Caslin, senior vice president of marketing for the English jeweler and silversmith. “People want to mark this year in a very special way and our Eternal cut diamond is one way of doing that.”
The Eternal cut features more facets than a traditional cut, but emits a softer, more subtle look. Caslin said brides have been focused on cuts of “well over a carat now,” which are usually set in platinum, rather than yellow gold.
Home for the jewelry needs of generations of British aristocrats, Asprey & Garrard was the jeweler for Sophie Rhys-Jones when she became engaged to Prince Edward.
Caslin said the pearl cross pendant worn by Rhys-Jones on her wedding day set off a demand for similar pendants, whether they are worn by the bride on the big day or presented as a wedding gift from her groom.
“Pendants, like the diamond daisy, have been very strong, but we’re also seeing interest in a simple strand of white pearls, worn in a tighter look, which looks more modern,” Caslin said.
But it’s not just about the gems. There are plenty of other must-have accessories.
“With the revival of so many period films, we’ve seen an renewed interest in period headpieces,” said Michelle Pressler, assistant designer at Subtle Creature, based in Philadelphia, which hand crafts glass pearls, Swarovski crystal and French ribbons into headpieces and hair accessories. “The timeless, almost heirloom looks are what are selling best.”
Pressler said the firm had been working with wedding site TheKnot.com and had been astounded at the response.
“We had no expectations at all about selling on the Internet, but we’ve been surprised with the success of our Jardin comb, which has been the biggest item selling there,” Pressler said.
Besides combs, wreath styles that can be wrapped around a bun and then attached to a simple illusion veil have been strongest among brides this year, Pressler said.
Color represents a way to personalize a wedding party, according to Karen O’Brien, vice president of marketing at the accessories firm Carolee Designs.
“Whether it’s color in semiprecious jewelry or tafetta wraps for the bridesmaids, we can offer a full range of shades, many of which can be customized to work with the decor of the wedding or the attendants’ dresses,” O’Brien said.
Tiaras, which have been hot for a while now, are also getting the color treatment.
“We’re adding another half dozen or so styles,” said O’Brien. “They can be worn as a crown or more like a headband and are trimmed with pearls or crystal in a variety of colors.”
Footwear is following fashion’s lead, according to designer Vanessa Noel, owner of the high-end shoe firm of the same name.
“Women have given up their stockings for church and are wearing open-toe, strappy sandals and mules,” said Noel.
Excepting the occasional lime green or red shoes, Noel said brides usually want their shoes to match their gowns, though that can mean a wide range of white, ivory or champagne, and they usually stay away from too many decorative touches.
Heel heights and toe shapes cover the gamut from modest pumps or ballet flats to vampish stilettos, some of which is determined by the wedding venue.
“If you are standing in sand or grass, you don’t want to sink,” said Noel.