Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ethnic Influences in Jewelry

Many fashion designers are using ethnic influences in their designs. I’ve seen tribal and southwest patterns in clothing. We are seeing organic materials that are influenced by a naturalistic view of cultural ethnicity becoming popular. Jewelry designers have also allowed ethnic influences in their jewelry designs for centuries.

Sometimes the influence is subtle like the use of a particular stone or metal. As an example, I still think of New Mexico and the Pueblo Indians whenever I see jewelry made with turquoise and sterling silver. Fashionable women in the 1920s wore turbans and silk pajamas to dinner parties which were deemed exotic for the time. This exotic look has its roots in ethnic and cultural diversity and how the world was contracting as trade and travel around the globe became easier and more common.

We are seeing a similar renaissance of this cultural diversity today as jewelry designers and manufacturers from around the world are influencing today’s retail jewelry designs. Influences from Asian markets are coming to the forefront in the American market and we are seeing a lot more jewelry with Asian influences.

At Mark Gregory & Company we purchased some beautiful pure silver jewelry from Michael Schofield out of Indiana. The line is called Shangri-La Sterling and as an example I’ve posted pictures of a fabulous cuff. This silver cuff has detailed etching on the inside of the cuff depicting a dragon and several auspicious symbols. While I am not an Asian art expert I found these etching fascinating and beautiful. It gives the cuff an exotic feel. The pure silver wire detailing on the outside of the cuff is unmatched in workmanship. This is one of the reasons that I purchased this piece for our store. While I’ve seen similar cuffs elsewhere, I was truly impressed with the craftsmanship of this piece.

Made in China, or India, or Brazil may not have the same connotations that once hung over items stamped with the “Made in Japan” status following WWII. Now items designed and manufactured in exotic locations invoke a sense of daring and individuality. If you can’t go on vacation in Shangri-La, why not wear a little bit of that Himalayan utopia on your wrist.

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