Refined Jewellery: Luxury Pieces
We have all seen it. That artfully decorated wrist or perfect arm party, that friend rocking the new curated ear trend that catches the light just right, and the expertly layered chain gang at perfectly placed lengths. Personal jewellery collections are on show everywhere these days form the yoga studio to the grocery store as shoppers are buying everyday wearable jewels. These new multi-piece personal collections come with their own little stories, and also tell the story of the rise of what has been called the refined jewellery category.
By Lauren Walker-Lee
Women are buying and curating their own jewellery boxes with wearable every day diamonds and gold, a trend that is aided by social media and direct to consumer brands that are making the jewellery buying process more approachable and affordable. The refined or demi-fine category has been seen as affordable fine jewelry both in price and in materials ranging from 14k gold plated sterling silver, gold fill, and solid gold. With pricing that reflects our digitally native times, steering clear of the traditional wholesale models allows for finer jewelry to become an inclusive experience targeted to women buying for themselves. Probably the most famous company delivering this ethos is Toronto’s Mejuri, who bucked the traditional trend of men gifting women on occasion. Lead by Noura Sakkijka, Mejuri focuses on women gifting themselves, paired with fair pricing without the 10x markup of the traditional fine jewelry market, and in doing so Mejuri has built a loyal relationship with millennials.
This affordable fine jewelry is not your mother’s jewelry box. It is not big or clunky but rather more delicate and sophisticated, allowing for customizations and layering in that Pinterest-perfect sort of way. Demi-fine jewellery, or rather “refined” jewellery, rose to prominence as photo sharing apps took over the IRL experience of visiting a jewellery store, a perhaps sometimes daunting or unaffordable task that was met with a glass enclosed case. Brands can exist online with entry to mid-level price points with customers feeling comfortable making this type of e-commerce purchase, as discovering new brands and styles is a daily occurrence in our socially sharing world. Companies are riding the wave and benefiting from their customers generating beautiful self-styled content that helps others make a great purchase. The entire digital experience from e-boutique platforms to social media allows for brands to keep palatable pricing and create robust content for a confident purchase.
From the wide appeal of Mejuri to smaller independent brands like Leah Alexander and Attic Gold, we can follow our favourite influencers (or friends) through their tags and discover unique pieces that fit our taste and budgets, making a jewelry story of our own in a just a few clicks.
Here Karen Van Der Hout of Toronto’s Van Der Hout Jewelry and Montreal’s Jaclyn Stein of Anzie talk about the rise of curating a jewelry collection, and the notion of the ‘refined’ category.
Karen Van Der Hout, Van Der Hout Jewelry
Van Der Hout Jewelry Evil Eye Bracelet $740
On how she got her start:
I had relatives in the jewelry business in NY. I worked summer jobs with my aunt in New York’s 47th Street Diamond District from when I was just 14. In college, I decided to study media and go into public relations, but after a few internships in fashion and beauty I realized jewelry was more fun!
On describing her brand:
Van Der Hout jewelry is solid gold fine jewelry. Our product can take you from the gym to your date-night. You see a lot of brands selling gold-plated jewels claiming they are fine jewelry. Make no mistake – they are not. Try wearing a gold plated necklace into a swimming pool. It’ll tarnish right away. Our jewels, solid gold jewels, are made to last.
On the idea of self-gifting when it comes to jewellery:
Great question. I think it’s part of a female empowerment movement we’re seeing everywhere. Why should we have someone else decide what we should wear? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen women unhappy with their jewelry gifts. Would you rather be surprised, or get a gift that you’ll love? Especially when it’s fine jewelry and it’s meant to be worn every day. If you’re wearing it every day, you should love it.
On how jewellery has become more affordable, making it possible for refined jewellery to be everyday jewellery:
Fifteen years ago when I started in the business, jewelry was heavier. Rising gold and diamond prices have challenged us designers to make lighter weight, more affordable styles. I think the dainty trend came out of necessity. People just can’t afford those bulky solid gold pieces anymore.
Paper Clip Chain Bracelet, Van Der Hout Jewelry $750
Jaclyn Stein, Anzie
On the design process:
When we design a piece, we create it with the mindset of each piece standing on its own. When clients create their own necklace story by layering, each item has a personal significance and comes together like a puzzle piece. It’s similar to creating a painting, you don’t create it to match a room but when you find the right spot for that piece, it just feels right.
On the idea of personalization and layering:
There are certain elements that can make layering stand out, for example mixing a simple chain, a gemstone crew necklace and a medallion. Each one brings a different element to the grouping. On the other hand, we also love layering similar pieces together but playing up different textures, shapes and sizes of chains, to create an interesting and edgy look.
On creating demi-fine jewellery:
We often fall into the demi-fine category because we make fine jewelry at an affordable price point. We’re using diamonds and precious stones, 14k gold and creating pieces for everyday wear. We do have some higher end pieces that would be considered fine jewelry, however we like to focus on pieces that women can purchase themselves and wear those pieces all the time. We consider all of our pieces fine jewelry because of the materials being used. We often create delicate minimalist pieces that are lightweight and therefore reduce the cost for our client.