Bejeweled in Gems


The magical spirit of the holiday season inspires a desire to dress for the occasion.

By Lisa Marie Hart

Verde Ring cropped

Even in Southern California, where snow is elusive and the sea breeze remains balmy during the winter, the magical spirit of the season inspires a desire to dress for the occasion with a nod to the latest styles in jewelry. One glimpse in the high-styled windows of coastal Orange County’s jewelry shops reveals plenty of stunning ways to do so.

“We interpret the international trends in jewelry to satisfy the style of the clients here at the resort,” says Nina Ramella-Mamie, co-founder with her husband Jean-Jacques of Jean-Jacques Mamie Fine Jewelry at The St. Regis Monarch Beach. “Most everyone we see has a jeweler at home, therefore we try to mix it up with a selection not found in your typical jewelry store.”

Visitors can shop coastal Orange County’s jewelry boutiques with confidence knowing some of the globe’s chicest trends are right here in the region’s stores, skillfully presented with a discriminating eye.


Shades in the Spotlight

A host of glamorous jewelry trends are gracefully sharing the spotlight this season, from soft and romantic to timeless and formal.

“It’s been a while since rose gold was in vogue, but it’s huge right now,” says Adam Neeley of Adam Neeley Fine Art Jewelry in Laguna Beach. “It’s what our clients are asking for. We’re mixing it with blushy stones that have a pink or peachy hue—so harmonious together. It’s the hot metal, even for men’s pieces.” Also for men, Neeley’s novel addition of black diamonds or black titanium provides just the right masculine edge.

At Jean-Jacques Mamie Fine Jewelry, rose gold warms the wrist in new watch designs by Cartier and Parmigiani as well as stackable bracelets by Charriol and rings from Hidalgo. Test the waters of the trend with one of the store’s surprisingly affordable ALOR Swiss Watches, offered by the same company best known for its 18-karat gold and stainless steel cable jewelry by Charriol. The rose gold cable bracelets make these watches—some that feature a slightly moveable case and detached dual bezel—playful yet substantial enough for everyday wear.

Additionally, radiant emeralds and sparkling diamonds have always been formal, festive and high on holiday wish lists. But this season, Pantone’s official “color of the year” celebrates its place in jewelry trends that have all eyes seeing green. Deep-hued, charismatic emeralds are undoubtedly the “it” gem of the season, made all the more fashion-forward when paired with a dash of the wearer’s own signature style. The best local jewelers and stylists operate from the knowledge and experience that while trends may fade, an emerald is forever.

“The emerald green color of the year couldn’t be more appropriate for the holidays,” Neeley says. “Personally, I love the combination of emeralds with a diamond accent.” As an alternative, he favors blood-red spinels as a seasonally inspired, yet season-less, gemstone.

Neely adds that, at the moment, people are excited about color. His new Couture Collection features a parade of brightly colored gemstones, including cool-hued rare tourmalines in blues and greens.

Moti Ferder, president and design director of Lugano Diamonds in Newport Beach, also says color is at the heart of Lugano’s latest collections. “Along with diamonds, many of Lugano Diamonds’ newest pieces feature gems like paraiba tourmaline and emeralds, which are very on trend,” Ferder says.

At Nathan Alan, the only independent jeweler in Costa Mesa’s renowned South Coast Plaza, owner and founder Alan Lemmerman says the store’s yellow diamond masterpieces continue to catch the eye of those who seek a new and noteworthy collection piece.

Likewise, Lugano Diamonds’ extraordinary Briolette bird ring meshes two trends by combining 1.63 carats of round brilliant cognac diamonds, and 1.01 carats of round brilliant yellow diamonds, all set in rose gold.

In the more casual world of costume jewelry, stylist Arianne Nicole notes that, “Electrifying colors for this season include lime yellow, magenta, Kelly green and Mykonos blue.” Nicole works with a prestigious and private clientele from Southern California to New York City. Her work has been featured in Vogue Japan and seen on celebrities including Sandra Bullock and Claire Danes. “You will be surprised how colors you never thought you could wear quickly become a new favorite.” Black gemstones, often surrounded by or surrounding colored stones, are another, more unconventional look du jour.

 birdnestPaving the Way With Pave

With unrivaled sparkle and shine, trails of petite diamonds meticulously placed side by side in a pave setting have never been more fashionable.

Nathan Alan is one of many jewelers to embrace the resurgence of a look that has been around for centuries. Now called the “halo”—the mesmerizing effect of smaller diamonds encircling a center stone—this “trend” is truly timeless based on its history. Lemmerman says it’s especially popular in cushion and radiant cuts for the center stone, both for diamonds as well as colored stones. “The trend has been to come up with a lot of new twists on it,” he says.

The dazzling bands of “invisible pave” that glisten from Nathan Alan’s endless showcases are missing a border along the side so the stones on the top of the band directly meet the stones on the side. The store’s more intricate styles feature two diamond-encrusted pave bands, sometimes woven or braided together, drawing the eye as the space in between reveals just a glimpse of skin. Thin, diamond-studded stackable rings have been popular to mark an anniversary, with the option to wear them in myriad ways or with pieces clients already own.

Meanwhile, Neeley has put the finishing touches on his new 3-inch-long dangling earrings for winter’s grandest events. Each dazzles with more than 100 diamonds in a micro pave setting. As part of his Couture Collection, diamonds shimmer next to unusual center stones such as the rainbow moonstone. “The center stone looks like water dappled with sunlight coming through it,” Neeley says of its distinctive bluish glow.

“And when the metal around the stone is covered in lots of teensy diamonds, it looks like sparkling white snow. Because you don’t see the stones independently, pave has an icy look that’s ideal for winter occasions.”

Also celebrating the spirit of the season, Lugano Diamonds has introduced a collection of light-catching snowflake-inspired earrings, while Jean-Jacques Mamie Fine Jewelry lays out an unprecedented array of diamond slices that glitter in earrings and necklaces handmade by designer Frederic Sage.

 AN NecklaceBig and Bold

“For this season, designers are thinking of each individual piece more architecturally,” Neeley says. In a marked departure from the dainty, delicate, even minimalist pieces of a decade before, today’s remarkable talents are unafraid to accentuate both size and form. From eclectic statement necklaces to wide bands for anniversaries, daring is nearly a necessity when releasing fresh, new jewelry designs.

Stylists with a trained eye for up-and-coming looks say big and bold is the key to accessorizing when they want their best clients to get noticed. The essential piece to own right now is a breathtaking statement necklace or bib collar that can be worn multiple ways with multiple ensembles says celebrity stylist and fashion expert Ali Levine, who recently has styled some of Los Angeles’ latest models, singers and actors. “Reach for something that catches the eye on the neck and pulls the whole outfit together,” she says. “It doesn’t have to be big if you’re not comfortable with that. But it needs to be something that commands attention and starts a conversation.”

From dressed-down, oversized chain link bracelets to retro, but timeless cocktail rings, jewelry proportions are anything but shy. Neeley’s recent collections affirm his own belief that big is back. Neely says his Vera collection takes an organic form inspired by the aloe vera plant. “[It’s] a big, bold look that’s sleek and very curvaceous,” Neeley says. “And it’s done in silver, so it has a price point for gift giving.”

Roberto Coin fans might add to their holiday wish lists after seeing the pieces of Pois Moi, the newest and soon-to-be signature Roberto Coin collection debuting in stores this fall. David Rubel, co-owner of Fredric H. Rubel Jewelers in Laguna Beach, finds the collection to be a perfect fit for the trend-savvy shopper with classic taste. From the side, each piece has a soft square profile, reminiscent of vintage TV sets from the 1950s. On the top, an ultra-modern geometric pattern of inverted points feels light-hearted and flirtatious. The sleek, high-polished bangles, rings, earrings, pendants and necklaces are available in 18-karat yellow, white and rose gold.

Look for architectural drama in this season’s timepieces, too. Jean-Jacques Mamie Fine Jewelry notes keen interest in the new Tank Anglaise watches from Cartier, a bold deviation for the brand in striking steel. The steel versions join their gold Tank Anglaise counterparts in a collection that updates Cartier’s iconic Tank watch.


The Layered Look

Cooler temperatures always bring out the layers in a wardrobe. This season, fine jewelry wants in on the act. In addition to stacking their rings, grouping bangles and layering necklaces, the smart set is mixing formal treasures with select pieces of relaxed costume jewelry.

“When you mix and match the unexpected, you make it your own,” says costume designer and wardrobe stylist Sam Russell, known for styling Stevie Wonder, Julia Ormond, Chuck Lorre and others. “Layering your bracelets, for example, is easy to do and feels current.”

Levine adds, “My clients are blending formal with fashion: a significant necklace with a fun cocktail ring or chunky, gold jewelry with a stack of smaller, gold chain bracelets. It’s more eclectic, and you notice the jewelry more than when it’s very matched. It’s more creative, yet still on trend.”

In addition to stacking jewelry and layering formal and costume pieces, one more sub-trend is a layering of eras, mingling vintage pieces with modern. Russell says his clients are adding a pair of glittering Baroque chandelier earrings to their look while Lemmerman has seen more brides falling in love with ornate rings inspired by the past. Ferder says he’s noticed an increased penchant for jewelry that pays homage to love in both the Victorian and Baroque styles, while Nicole says “The Great Gatsby,” 1920s-era influence is still strong.

Whether attending an exclusive holiday soiree or just a special night out, this season’s gem trends are sure to make a statement no matter what the occasion. Add an emerald necklace or a rose gold bracelet and shine throughout jewelry’s most opulent time of year.