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The world's best fashion jewelry designers

From Daus to Wieck, who's who in the world of fashion jewelry

Author: Charlotte Kuchinsky February 5 2008

diamond necklace close-up

Jewelry design has become a special art form into itself. The discovery of hundreds of different gemstones, the perfection of the cubic zirconia (CZ), and the new plating processes now available have opened new doors for jewelry designers. Now, the world’s best, like Nicky Butler, Heidi Daus, Joseph Espisito, Kenneth Jay Lane, Nolan Miller, Joan Rivers, Suzanne Somers, Robert Tacori, and Victoria Wieck, have entered into the fashion jewelry realm.

Designers like Robert Tacori and Victoria Wieck have been working with real gemstones and precious metals for decades. Only after CZs and gold and platinum plating processes became perfected did they dare to cross over into the fashion jewelry industry.

Robert Tacori

Tacori is a name with which the rich and famous are familiar. This famous jewelry line combines platinum and diamonds in some of the most innovative designs ever made. Many of Hollywood’s brightest stars wear Tacori down the red carpet each and every year. Tacori has become a name synonymous with beauty, elegance, and grace; and now it is also a line that the everyday woman can wear. In conjunction with the television retail giant QVC, Tacori now offers the same stunning jewelry in diamonique - QVC’s cubic zirconia - and sterling silver plated with platinum. The line, which is called epiphany, also often includes simulated gems like blue diamonds, rubies, and sapphires. At a mere fraction of the cost of the real thing and with a limited lifetime warranty to back it up, the epiphany line has quickly become one of QVC’s, and Tacori’s, shining stars.

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Victoria Wieck

Victoria Wieck, a Beverly Hills designer that makes one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces for people all over the world, also entered into the fashion jewellery market about a decade ago. With diamond and gemstone pieces that often retail for hundreds of dollars and a client base that is the envy of many of her colleagues, Wieck had no need to change her standardized practices. Except for one thing - she wanted to make her architecturally stunning pieces available to anyone who wanted them. She achieved this feat by partnering with the television retail giant Home Shopping Network. Now, Wieck’s work is available in gold, sterling silver, or vermeil with HSN’s equally lovely absolute CZs. Best of all, none of her creative talents are lost in translation. Still in place is her unparalleled pave work and her stunning imitations like champagne and chocolate diamonds. A Victoria Wieck piece makes every woman feel like a star.

Joseph Espisito

Joseph Espisito’s unique designs, using sterling silver and natural gems like tigereye, turquoise, and coral (to name just a few) have been valued by women all over the world for decades. From bold modern takes on art deco pieces to Native American inspired jewelry surrounded with the glamour of modern day CZ’s, Espisito’s work is both striking and highly collectible. Jewelry design runs in the Espisito family, with Joe’s wife and daughter offering their own unique points of view and also sharing their very favorite designs. Espisito jewelry is available through a number of online outlets throughout the world as well as on QVC.

Kenneth Jay Lane

Say fashion jewelry to any Hollywood star and two names will immediately spring to mind: Nolan Miller and Kenneth Jay Lane. Beginning as a shoe designer for Christian Dior, Lane used his free time to design his first love - jewelry. He eventually talked Saks Fifth Avenue into trying a few of his pieces and was delighted to discover he was an instant hit. Lane has created designs for first ladies like Jacquelyn Kennedy and Barbara Bush, as well as for Hollywood stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn. But his designs are just as respected by the younger stars of today. Kenneth Jay Lane is one of only a select few of fashion jewelry designers whose work draws even higher bids on the secondary jewelry market. Some of his brooches have been sold at Christie’s for hundreds of dollars.

Nolan Miller

Nolan Miller is equally well known and loved amongst the stars. He holds the distinction of being highly popular on both the big and small screens. Probably best known for his work on ABC’s hit prime time soap, “Dynasty,” Miller, much like Lane, spans decades of popularity. Unlike Lane, however, Miller never strayed from his haute couture roots. He remains a designer of the stars. However, when he found it difficult to find jewels that matched the quality of his clothes, it seemed only natural that he would cross over into that realm. While his jewelry line began in his Hollywood shop, it couldn’t be contained there. A little over a decade ago, QVC paired with Miller to expand his jewelry line and make it available worldwide. His unique designs, which have included brooches for stars such as Barbara Stanwyk and first ladies like Nancy Reagan, have touched the hearts and souls of women all over the world. It can be purchased at his shops on both coasts and through QVC.

Joan Rivers

Comedian, Joan Rivers, likely didn’t know that her love of fine jewelry would eventually grow into a million-dollar industry. A lover of Victorian and Russian inspired work, Rivers started dallying in jewelry design as a sideline while she was still actively busy in standup comedy. Today, however, the funny lady spends as much time with her jewelry line as she does working in the entertainment industry. And why shouldn’t she? She designs or re-creates some of the most beautiful fashion jewelry available in the world today. Using the almost lost art forms of hand enameling and plique au jour, Rivers has managed to recapture the spirit of days gone by. Her Victorian flowers and Russian eggs, as well as her innovative watches, are collected by women in more than thirty countries. Of course it doesn’t hurt that she has a television giant, QVC, helping her along the way. Her work can be purchased there as well as through several Internet sites.

Suzanne Somers

Suzanne Somers claims she got into the jewelry business because her beloved husband, while wonderful in more ways than she can count, wasn’t one for buying her jewelry. However, just like the rest of us women, she liked pretty, shiny trinkets. So she thought to herself, “why not design them myself?” What followed became a juggernaut for the feisty blonde. Her trillion-shaped bracelet quickly became the highest selling piece of jewelry in Home Shopping Network’s history, outselling virtually everything within her line and everyone else’s. It even launched imitations from several different designer colleagues including that of Nolan Miller. Working with CZs, crystals, and simulated stones, Somers has a real affinity for modernizing Oriental and Native American pieces by putting her own unique stamp on them. This past year, Somers organized a business-to-business program that allows her many fans to help her sell her jewelry and many other products.

Heidi Daus

With more than 25 years in jewelry design, Heidi Daus brings her love for vintage inspired jewelry to life in a dramatically modern way. Her love of exotic gems as well as colored imitation gemstones and crystals has led her into a remarkable niche in the jewelry industry. Mixing unusual colors together and daring to pair faceted and opaque stones within the same piece, Daus designs some of the most spectacular jewelry the world has ever seen. It is sold in more than 20 countries at specialty boutiques. It is also sold on HSN. Drawing upon the perspectives of the Victorian, Baroque, Art Deco, and Art Nouveau eras, Daus designs updated work that remains true to the period while also appealing to today’s most modern of women. There is no mistaking a Heidi Daus piece. It combines classic beauty, elegant and graceful designs, punches of color, and unusual shapes in way that only Heidi can do. Hers are sure to be pieces that are handed down for generations to come.

Nicky Butler

Much like Daus, Nicky Butler has carved out his own special place within the jewelry industry. Working primarily in sterling silver and unusual stones like moonstone, turquoise, and chalcedony as well as with precious gems like peridot, garnet, and amethyst, Butler’s work is also easily recognizable. Using a lot of cabochon-cut gems and beads, as well as faceted stones, he sets his work into unusual shapes and forms. While some of his work is reminiscent of Native American style jewelry, other pieces are totally his point of view alone. Big and bold describes Butler’s work, which runs from nature-inspired to religious icons. Butler’s work is available online, through various boutiques, and on HSN.

Today’s women have lots of options with regard to jewelry and no longer does one of them have to be the cheap, dime-store variety. The above jewelry designers have opened their hearts and minds, as well as their creative talents, to make sure that every woman can have the opportunity to own something worthy of her. That is a special gift indeed!

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Posted on 21/05/10 06:25 by: Barbara Jane Sowak

I prefer to wear "the real deal" but if I do wear fashion jewellery, I will say that Joan Rivers' pieces are lovely. They are weighty, beautifully finished and presented, always tasteful and elegant (or more trendy, if that is the look) and all of her pieces look to be worth far more than the actual cost. They are set with excellent crystals; the plating is first class, and I would wear her things daily and give them as gifts without any problem. I have also tried a few pieces by Ivana (formerly Trump) and found her fashion pieces to be of high quality, too. I do not own any KJL pieces but I have seen them and they are very nice, although I suggest that some of his pieces tend to more suit the older woman whereas Ms. Rivers' and Ivana's fashion pieces are styled to appeal to a broader age group.

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