HIGH-END jewellery need not just be about how big that gemstone is, and the standard classical settings such as diamond pave. New materials and techniques – under the masterful designer's eye – have allowed for more choices in fine jewellery these days. High-end jewellery is looking more playful and trendy and it's giving customers more bang for their buck as well, as jewellery brands prepare themselves for a less glittering year ahead.
Tapping new materials, top Italian brand Pomellato, for instance, has introduced ceramic in its Capri line. The 2016 collection sees the traditionally hard and inorganic material – associated with tableware and fine art objects – injected into fashionable jewellery design.
The ceramic is moulded into irregular cabochon beads which are coloured in shiny turquoise, pink, white and black. This collection revolves around playful juxtapositions of breezy colours, matt stones and transparent gems so that they carry that carefree spirit of the Mediterranean.
For Pomellato's three other pillar brands, Nudo features rings, pendants and pendant earrings in brown and black diamonds – paired with stones such as iolite, rhodolite, mandarin garnet, essonite, peridot, red tourmaline, and aquamarine for that voluptuous colour palette.
Sabbia is dusted in brown, black and white diamonds in "pavé degradé" style – an irregular base – which catches lights and shadows. For the Tango line, the bands are narrower than its previous designs, but the stones are bigger with square profiles.
Another Italian brand, Giovanni Ferraris, uses gemstones creatively in its designs so that you can get a designer 17-carat emerald, cut and set for a four-digit price tag, in contrast to a top-grade one which can cost half a million dollars.
"The Italians are very good at using materials and crafting nice designs, so that the natural characters of the stones can shine even though they may not fit into the top-grade category," says Rosalind Lim, creative consultant of Made in Paradise Luxury, which brought in 19 Italian jewellery brands for a special showcase at the recent Singapore Jewellery and Gem Fair.
Giovanni Ferraris' Twist series also sees a patented design of the use of a titanium core to create its spiral jewellery. The titanium enables the pieces to hold their twisty shapes while allowing wearers to manipulate them into different configurations.
"Because the gold price is going up, designs are going to be lighter, for practical reasons," adds Ms Lim. "Designers are now more conscious of the overall casting of pieces – designs are becoming more lightweight, and this is possible because of new techniques."
This can be seen with Talento Italiano's "collapsible pendants" in its Surprise line – so that an oval or round pendant studded with diamonds and sapphires in 18-carat gold can be worn in a few ways – from an egg-shaped pendant to a 2D star when it's hung on the side.
The Paolo Piovan marque is known for its flamboyant, gem-studded designs, but if you want the bling without the high premium – lest you lose the pieces during your travels – then the brand's "doublet" style which features quartz backings behind gemstones instantly lowers the price points of the big-stoned pieces, but without compromising the dramatic effect.
Ultimately, as jewellery is very personal, buyers aren't swayed so much by trends as they are by what they like and are looking for. Even so, the choices out there are getting more exciting – which makes luxury jewellery collectors more spoiled than ever before.