Good jewellery often comes in small packaging.
While statement jewellery has made its mark in the mainstream, the vogue for tiny charm jewellery is on the rise, offering a chance to layer and personalise. Kathryn Bishop discovers the designers and brands creating delicate jewels for daily wear.
Stars, hearts, moons, lightning bolts, horseshoes, crosses and skulls. These design motifs, while known and loved, have become must-haves in the form of tiny charm jewellery.
Simple pendants and earrings have been the bread and butter of jewellery retailers’ offer for countless years, but this new trend ups the ante just enough to revive interest in what have long been classic designs. This fresh wave of tiny charm jewellery is clean, crafted in gold or silver and, if decorated at all, it is with a sparse sprinkling of tiny faceted gems or a flush-set piece of abalone.
So what is it about tiny charms that make them a style to watch? Largely the designs can be considered a quiet reaction to the bold costume jewels that have dominated the high street and fashion magazine spreads for the past year. Instead designers are presenting delicate trinkets that can be stacked or layered, allowing customers to cherry pick from fistfuls of designs, creating jewellery that is fun and more personal, not only due to its size but the meanings inferred by each charm.
A theme throughout tiny charm jewellery is taking of an original design or concept and downscaling it to become something much more subtle. Laura Gravestock’s aptly titled Dainty collection launches at IJL this month, bursting with stackable peace sign, crescent moon and crucifix rings, mismatched star and moon stud earrings, and petite hoops from which lightning bolt charms dangle. "For this collection we’ve taken some of the bestsellers from our Written and Struck collections and miniaturised them so that they’re perfect for layering," explains Gravestock. "Customers are choosing to be more eclectic with their jewellery styling, so this collection has everything you need to layer and stack, as well as mix and match, and the pieces are at the ideal price point for customers to be able to do so."
Jana Reinhardt Jewellery runs with the tagline ‘Simply Sweet Jewellery’ and its collection of tiny charm designs certainly upholds this statement. The brand’s co-designer and maker Ross Cutting explains: "We love to create uncomplicated, sweet jewellery and the smaller you make something the sweeter it seems to become. It is also more interesting because as you reduce the size you also simplify the detail, leaving a stylised or naïve impression of the original." Among Jana Reinhardt’s collection is a new range of hummingbird designs, including drop earrings and stack rings, as well as collections featuring tiny owls, foxes, sparrows, butterflies, bells and keys. The brand’s eponymous founder Jana Reinhardt adds: "We love creating tiny charm jewellery because it is perfect for collecting and layering, easy to wear and also makes for a wonderful gift."
The gifting element of tiny charm jewellery adds to its appeal; consumers are seeking jewellery for everyday wear but at a price point that suits both gifting and self-purchasing. As a result both Laura Gravestock and Jana Reinhardt offer the majority of their designs within the £30 to £100 price point for products such as silver studs, delicate friendship bracelets and stone-set tiny charm pendants.
The growth of the friendship bracelet trend has been unstoppable, from woven fabric designs through to birthstone bracelets and modern charm bracelets. The tiny charm trend goes hand-in-hand with fine chain friendship bracelets and the resulting designs offer a chance to collect and layer jewellery.
Carat*’s popular Chelsea friendship bracelet collection includes silver and gold vermeil designs with motifs including hamsa hands, anchors and fleur de lys. Each design is set with the brand’s simulated diamonds with price points under £100.
FREEDOM TO MOVE
A micro trend within tiny charm jewellery is creating pieces with charms that dangle or move when worn. Gravestock’s stacking rings feature dangling gemstone rondells, freshwater pearls and heart charms, while Dinny Hall’s new Paragon collection features triangular charms that dangle from earring hooks, inlaid with mother of pearl and abalone. The brand’s Bijou and Almaz collections also teem with tiny silver and gold vermeil charms that twinkle from fine charm bracelets and as tiny pendants.
Claudia Bradby’s new AW13 collection features the Constella hoops – fine silver wire hoops strung with tiny star charms and iolite rondells that have a subtle movement when worn.
At Carolina Bucci the trend for tiny, moveable charms has extended into 18ct gold design and some slightly more unusual shapes. Bucci’s Tropicalia collection bursts with delicate, stackable charm rings with grapes and strawberry designs, offering a playful, summery alternative to classic motifs.
While the main rule of tiny charm jewellery is to keep things simple, the use of mixed finishes adds another facet to the trend and an altogether edgier look. Tina Lilienthal launched onto the scene some years ago with her collection of tiny rabbit head and skull charm jewellery. Since then the lines have evolved to include rose and yellow gold vermeil details and black rhodium-plated finishes. She has also added cheeky elements to her designs, with skull necklaces that are topped with tiny antlers or finished with a natty black rhodium-plated moustache.
East London-based jewellery designer Rachel Entwistle gives her work a darker edge with collections that feature tiny spider, bat and ant charms. Entwistle’s new Milagros collection, which will be showcased at IJL this month, includes chains embellished with dangling crucifix charms in mixed plating finishes. The effect adds depth and an ancient aesthetic to the designs, while also maintaining a somewhat gothic vibe.
On a symbolic note, Lindsay Pearson’s collection of 9ct and 18ct gold tiny charm jewellery includes two delicate double-sided engraved tag necklaces, one featuring an anchor and the word hope, and the second a tiny arrow and the word love. "I made these tag necklaces to be worn either on their own as a little glint of gold, or layered up with longer styles for a strong yet relaxed look," explains Pearson. "As they are double-sided they flip over as you move to catch the eye, making them really subtle and elegant, yet their quirky and sentimental engravings keep them fun." All of Pearson’s designs can be personalised, something she believes brings the jewellery that bit closer to the wearer.
If there is one thing the trend for tiny charm jewellery offers it is versatility. If you are a retailer seeking a cuter take on a classic motif or something a little more trend-driven like moveable charm rings and mixed-finishes, the eclectic array of designs that are housed under the umbrella of this trend offer something for everyone, from the woman looking to treat herself to the customer who likes charms forged in traditional 18ct gold.
This article was taken from the September 2013 issue of Professional Jeweller. To read the issue in full online, click here.