By Marie Feliciano and Bernardette Sto. Domingo
Fresh beginnings, new hope, the promise of spring. These are the sentiments often associated with the colour green. In 2017, Pantone has declared Greenery – a “fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore and renew” – as its colour of the year.
It is an apt choice given one’s need to find respite from the noise and pressures of daily life, and innate desire to reconnect with nature.
Images of lush forests, vegetable harvests and freshly cut grass come to mind upon the mention of the word green. This colour is undoubtedly the epitome of all things fresh and soothing. And when used in the world of fine jewellery, green further reinforces its enigmatic appeal, radiating elegance and royalty.
The green gemstones that we think best represent Greenery are peridots and green tourmalines, and other coloured gemstones in deeper shades of green such as emeralds and tsavorites.
Taking into account Greenery’s calm and serene charm, we anticipate more nature-inspired collections, focusing on green gemstones with subdued diamond or coloured gemstone accents, to dominate the display windows of jewellery shops.
Jewellery designs are likely to gravitate towards a more subtle look that is laidback and refreshing, almost immaculate.
In this issue, we have had the pleasure of talking to some of the industry’s most prolific jewellery designers and gemstone manufacturers who shared their views on the significance of the colour green in the fine jewellery sector, and the reasons why everyone could do with a little Greenery in their lives.
The grandeur of green
Chinese jewellery designer Diana Zhang has always been partial to green gemstones namely emeralds and tsavorites when designing a piece.
“These gemstones figure a lot in my jewellery collections. For me, green is a symbol of life and hope. Green gemstones evoke vitality and mystery. This colour makes you want to look forward to the future,” noted Zhang.
When applied to jewellery design, green is likely to inspire “precision” and “attention to detail,” the jewellery designer said.
“Take my ‘Orchid King’ necklace as an example. It is composed of three no-oil Colombian emeralds of 6.20 carats, 4.08 carats and 1.98 carats, and accompanied by more than 5,500 diamonds and 2,700 tsavorites. What makes the whole piece stand out is the splash of rich green hues that gives it elegance. Green also represents nobility, amity, perfection, freedom and independence,” remarked Zhang.
For Carsten Kreis of Kreis Jewellery, a fine jewellery manufacturer based in Germany’s gemstone capital of Idar-Oberstein, emeralds, tourmalines and tsavorites are the royalty among green gemstones.
Another green gemstone that captures the freshness of spring and nature’s greens is the peridot, which is rising in popularity in Germany.
According to Kreis, Pantone’s recent partnership with Airbnb Inc is a reflection of the “go green movement”
“This movement symbolises ‘going back to the roots.’ We are anticipating jewellery designs that are closer to ‘home,’ so to speak. We will see more nature-inspired pieces, with organic designs coming into play,” he added. “This will be evident in the cutting of the gemstones to the shape of the materials such as gold, silver or wood.”
With a strong history in gemstone cutting, Kreis Jewellery is very particular when it comes to enriching the final look of a gemstone. The stone has to be clean and cut in a manner that enhances its light-reflecting properties, and set in a precious metal that brings out its colour. In the case of green gemstones, Kreis Jewellery’s metal of choice is white gold.
“Most of our green gemstones are set in white gold. Green can be a very subtle colour, which means it is not as dominant as red, for instance. It can get lost in other colours easily if the designer is not experienced and goes overboard. The background colours have to be more nuanced so as not to divert too much attention from the main gemstone,” noted Kreis.
Consumers buy jewellery not merely for aesthetic purposes, but more so as a form of self-expression, he added.
Fine jewellery pieces adorned with green gemstones are often viewed as symbols of new beginnings, health, balanced lifestyle, renewal, tranquillity and inner peace.
“It is a vivid colour, which is pleasing to the eye at the same time. Green is more often seen during the warmer seasons of the year but we see this trend changing. Green may be seen more often even during the cold seasons of 2017,” noted the jeweller.
A Greenery-inspired gemstone is also likely to appeal to both young and mature buyers, thanks to its universal allure, Kreis said.
US-based jeweller Ivy New York, meanwhile, highlights the underlying message that Greenery signifies.
“This ‘go green’ initiative and other similar mottos encourage us to save forests as a way to preserve the beauty of nature for future generations. This is clearly a design direction in the jewellery industry, which essentially translates to minimalist and naturalistic pieces,” added the company.
According to IVY New York, green has always been associated with positive undertones. Some cultures also attach distinct healing properties to the colour green, mainly to enhance people’s health while ancient history describes green as the colour of Anahata, or the heart chakra, which fills the body with a soothing and invigorating energy of joy, compassion and love. Green is also associated with fertility.
“In the contemporary world, green has firmly penetrated the realms of ecology, politics and economics, among others, as an all-sufficient concept. Green is a universally understood synonym of prosperity and well-being,” it added.
When it comes to jewellery designs, IVY New York expressed the same views as those of Zhang and Kreis.
“Every piece of IVY New York jewellery with green gemstones is a testament to life. The gemstones are natural, vivid in colour, clean, sparkling and everlasting,” stated the jeweller.
Green gemstone jewellery is also representative of one’s health and well-being. Its calming effect also bodes well for both the wearer and the observer, according to IVY New York.
Ammie Kang of Taiwan-based Top Kang Lapidary & Jewellery Arts, which specialises in masterful one-of-a-kind coloured gemstone jewels, is anticipating even stronger demand for collections set with jadeite stones, natural fancy green diamonds and emeralds this year.
“Green is a stress-free colour, and it is the most common colour in nature,” Kang said. “It is also a colour that reinvigorates and heals. It conveys security and hope. Visually, it is a colour that people find very attractive.”
The designer’s works seek a balance between tradition and fashion, combining the spirit of Oriental traditions with elements of Western fashion. For her 2017 collection, Kang will be using several emeralds and jadeite stones, which are among her favourite gems.
“Jadeite best embodies the Oriental spirit – calm and persevering. Emerald possesses a gentle charm all its own,” she said, adding that Asia remains Top Kang’s biggest market.
Hong Kong-based designer Anita So, award-winning designer of Osatina Jewellery Co, is also creating magic on her workbench with jadeite. Two of her stunning pieces are a jadeite secret watch in 18-karat white gold and a jadeite lorgnette with a watch.
“Multifunction jewellery is a big trend right now, especially since Asia’s watch and jewellery techniques have become more precise, fine and delicate. Customised jewellery watches, for instance, are available in Hong Kong,” she said.
Partial to jadeite, the designer says the colour green conveys a sense of harmony. “Jadeite’s translucence and almost watery texture exude tranquillity and serenity. It is also an auspicious gemstone, which is why new-borns are often gifted with jadeite,” So said.
In addition to green, jadeite is available in various colours including yellow, purple, black and red. Icy jadeite, prized for its high translucency, is also one of the most sought-after gemstones in the Greater China market.
“Jadeite can be crafted in different shapes and sizes, from traditional Chinese motifs to European-style decorative patterns. Among the most valuable cuts or shapes are cabochons, beads and of course, bangles. Jadeite is an excellent media for designers to showcase their creativity,” So explained. “This gemstone is not only loved by Chinese consumers; it is also widely known and favoured by collectors and jewellery enthusiasts in the Western world.”
Freshness and purity
One of the world’s leading gemstone cutters and traders, Paul Wild OHG said green gemstones are loved for their unique vivid shades, which are symbolic of purity and all things natural.
“My favourite green gemstone is Paraiba tourmaline, because of its radiating and luminous shades of green and blue,” said company CEO Markus Paul Wild.
Some of the gemstone specialist’s fine layouts this year are floral designs inspired by one of Henri Rosseau’s paintings, “The Dream.” Aptly named Paradise Garden, the collection uses green gemstones including demantoid, tsavorite, peridot and green tourmaline – particularly Paraiba.
New York-based designer Naomi Sarna recently unveiled her Green Collection, which highlights radiant, fresh, earthy colours and nature-themed designs true to the spirit of Pantone’s choice this year.
For her jewellery pieces, the award-winning designer said she has used materials such as jade, chrysoprase, tsavorite, green amethyst, American sunstone and various tones of green diamonds.
“I am completely intoxicated with green diamonds,” Sarna remarked.
“I love green gemstones for their amazing spectrum of expression. At one end of the green spectrum, they represent spring, life and vitality. At the other end, where they are darker and deeper, they have a very elegant, sensuous and mysterious look. There's just so much you can do with them.”
Sarna’s Green Collection currently features 11 of her pieces and more are in the works.
“It is largely comprised of pieces inspired by nature – flower buds, winding leaves and petals. The green chrysoprase bud brooches are some of my favourite pieces because they are so vibrant and cheerful. I love the carved shapes that came out of the green jade and its distinctly earthy, yet elegant colouring,” she explained. “The green diamond petal brooch is a seriously important jewel that really comes to life in subdued lighting. The two pairs of earrings feature pearls that offer such a surprise of green from the deep blue sea. Their hues in these natural pearls are just breathtaking. American sunstone is a gem I love working with, and it is a gemstone that is currently gaining in popularity. In addition to the lovely necklace in this collection, I have a carved sunstone in the permanent collection at the Smithsonian and I’m currently carving more.”
Vitality and hope
Gemstone expert Constantin Wild of Idar-Oberstein said people associate the colour green with nature, life and growth. “Hence, green stones remind us of our desire for vitality and hope. They are a perfect match to springtime, a time of transformation and new beginnings, and when we gaze longer at them, we perceive something magical in green stones,” Wild said.
“I personally connect ‘green’ stones, independently of their colour, with the aspiration for sustainable production. Ultimately, I would like beautiful women to be able to wear our gemstones with a clear conscience. To this end, I know the history of each stone and we rely consistently on hydropower for grinding our gemstones in Idar-Oberstein.”
This year, Constantin Wild will be showcasing four green stones namely green demantoid from Russia, which is globally unique thanks to its needle-shaped or “horsetail” inclusions; chrome tourmaline from Africa, a rare variety of green tourmaline with a captivatingly intense green colour; tsavorite garnet with its various shades of green; and peridot from Pakistan, desired for its considerable size and colour, which matches the Pantone shade, Greenery.
Wild is enamoured with several gemstones but the diamond-like green demantoid occupies a special place in his heart.
“Its distinctive dispersion is fascinating because it makes the stone sparkle in all the colours of the spectrum. No other stone can compare to its brilliance. Green demantoids from Siberia are unique; they are the only stones in the world that gain value through their needle-shaped inclusions,” he said.
The gemstone specialist added that he has a very personal connection to the green demantoid.
“I was one of the first to bring this stone back to the attention of the gemstone business. Carl Fabergé already knew that the ‘stone of the tsars’ was worthy of appreciation: Sparkling green, full of secrets and hard to come by. Following the Russian revolution, the green demantoid fell into oblivion. When it found its way to the West at the end of the 1980s, it was known only to a handful of specialists, but this stone truly deserved a comeback,” Wild said.