ometimes trends just appear. Multiple designers sense a shift in the air to a fresh silhouette like dramatic shoulder dusters or a theme such as animals transformed into an adorable ring and voilà, the style becomes hot. Other times, I feel like there should be a trend in jewelry, but I can’t find it. So, I wait.
The surreal period we have been living in since the pandemic made the time feel ripe for a revival of the movement that combines the incongruous and brings to real-life a dreamlike feeling.EÉRA
I’ve been waiting for Surrealism for a few years. The surreal period we have been living in since the pandemic made the time feel ripe for a revival of the movement that combines the incongruous and brings to real-life a dreamlike feeling. I’d noticed there had been heavy usage of the word in the press. It stood out to me particularly during the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing when so many of the young athletes aptly described finally being there without much of a crowd as “surreal.”
On the fashion front Surrealism has been on a roll for a little while. At Schiaparelli, the French House that was a proponent of Surrealism during the 1930s, American designer Daniel Roseberry has whipped up countless eye-catching, tongue-in-cheek, surrealistic couture gowns beloved by celebrities. The House of Loewe has also made Surrealism a signature with imaginative things like big lips on the front of a dress and a rose as the heel of a shoe.
In the fine jewelry category, I just wasn’t seeing it happening, that is until now. As the COUTURE Instagram began to roll out new designers who will be at the show this year in Las Vegas, I spotted it on the feed again and again. Find out what I mean in the work of DEZSO BY SARA BELTRÁN, EÉRA and SOPHIE THEAKSTON.
Dezso by Sara Beltrán
Dezso designer Sara Beltrán was born in Mexico, grew up in Texas has lived for extended periods in India and Paris and currently resides in New York City where she just opened a chic boutique. While elements of all these places can be gleaned in her handcrafted designs, it’s the idea of life at the beach that dominates her work.
Shells, shark fins and shark teeth are a few signature motifs that she combines in unexpected ways into flat gold torques and slender neck wires as well as bold cuff bracelets and empowering pendants. It’s the mix of things like the emerald studded gold shark teeth that give the work a touch of surreal style. You just know if Salvador Dalí were around to see it, he would be a big fan.
Right on the landing page of the Eéra website, Italian designers Chiara Capitani and Romy Blanga put their direct thoughts about the collection down. “Our label was born from the need to create something new: an aesthetic and language that could talk to our generation,” explain Chiara and Romy. “Jewelry has always been so traditional. We wanted to break the boundaries.”
The design duo’s collection signature motif is largely based on an old snap hook discovered in a vintage store in Tokyo. Of course, using hardware as a source of inspiration isn’t new. It can be found in fine jewelry dating to at least the 1940s.
The Eéra designers make the concept fresh by transforming the snap hook into gold in gigantic pieces and small-scale items hand painted in various shades of PVD neon colors. Other concepts in the collection include keys, a modular riff on the snap hook, tubular rings and other bolt-like elements made into earrings.
It’s the play with scale and unexpected motifs that put them in the surrealist basket. Lots of celebrities from their generation are picking it up including Gigi Hadid, Dua Lipa and Jenna Ortega.
London based jewelry designer Sophie Theakston infuses her creations with a lyrical sense of story. Her Sunrise Earrings and the Divine Eye Cuff radiate good vibes in bursts of gold lit up with diamonds. Based on her dreamy digital mood board, I suspect Sophie is thinking of the gold in Gustav Klimt.
In my surreal mindset, however, it reminds me of so many Schiaparelli motifs from the past and present. The Divine Eye is echoed in a carved crystal and gold ring. Then there are the gold sculptural toadstool necklaces that conjure up Alice and Wonderland, a surreal story if there ever was one.
The Founder and Editorial director of the online fine jewelry magazine The Adventurine, Marion Fasel is as well known for trend forecasting as her comprehensive knowledge of jewelry history. Her tenth book on 20th century jewelry design B is for Bvlgari: Celebrating 50 Years in America was published on December 16, 2022.