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By Trace Shelton | Published in the May 2013 issue


From mind’s eye to finished jewelry, Couture designers create works of tangible imagination.


Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius." — Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

We know that gold is pulled from veins, diamonds require heat, and gemstones form by some combination of earth, fire and water. But where does jewelry come from? For that answer, we must look to something far less apparent to the senses but just as real: Inspiration.


Ancient civilizations believed that inventions of poetry, music and art were all inspired by the gods themselves, while more recent artists have attributed their creations to human experience. Wherever it comes from, inspiration needs a fertile mind keenly attuned to its surroundings, wherein the seed of an idea can take root at any time and, in the right hands, grow into a masterpiece.

At the Couture Show, those masterpieces manifest as breathtaking jewelry creations, as surely works of art as anything written by Milton or painted by Monet. And just as certainly as those artists loved their subjects and their respective crafts, Couture’s designers have breathed heart and soul into every piece.

Sarah Graham

"The idea to let sea urchins inform my latest collection came from research I am doing for an upcoming summer-long trip to Italy, during which I ran across photos I took 20 years ago when my husband and I honeymooned there. My jewelry career was just beginning, but I was already fixated on nature as a muse and loved the idea of exploding and focusing on details, rather than featuring entire items in their more familiar forms. ‘Ricci di mare,’ or sea urchins, have a mouth with toothlike plates that point inward and are referred to as ‘Aristotle’s lantern.’ As always, I have taken artistic license portraying these teeth, smoothing and elongating them and giving them a diamond to hold!" Sarah Graham

Sea Urchin ring in 18K yellow gold, oxidized cobalt chrome and diamonds (0.15 TCW)
MSRP: $2,225

Jewelry Photography by Robert Diamante


Todd Reed

"The simple things in life are the ones that move me the most. Beauty, surprise, and intrigue all come in such obvious ways that we sometimes miss them. This new collection is inspired by dewdrops on leaves, sunlight igniting the drops in different lustrous tones."Todd Reed










18K rose gold and sterling silver ring with autumn brilliant diamonds (0.13 TCW) and white brilliant diamonds (0.014 TCW)
MSRP: $3,740 |

18K yellow gold bracelet with
paraiba tourmalines (9.57 TCW)
and diamonds (1.83 TCW)
MSRP: $70,400 |

Victor Velyan

"For inspiration to come, I need to be outside, with nature or on my bike, to clear my mind and begin to feel like myself. It’s experiential for me. Next would be shapes and textures, like the crocodile texture found on this cuff. That deeply influences my creative process, but inevitably, it’s the stones that speak to me the most. Put a fabulous stone in front of me and I’m like a kid in a candy store." Victor Velyan

Yossi Harari

“Inspired by a summer trip to Ibiza, my Rattan collection incorporates textile weaving from straw hats and thatched rooftops. The woven, handmade pure 24K gold emits a warmth reminiscent of the Mediterranean sun. The pieces come in various shapes and sizes of marquise, oval, pear shapes and even hoops made of intricately woven gold threads.” Yossi Harari


Rattan earrings
in 24K gold
MSRP: $5,495

Roberto Coin

"Why Shanghai? I visit Shanghai many times every year. It is the most multiethnic Chinese city, second only to Hong Kong. Shanghai is modern, with a sophisticated knowledge of fashion and attitude to the research of new styles. Moreover, it is painted in my mind with the unique colors typical of China. I named my latest multicolored collection Shanghai because it is full of uncommon combinations and shades, everything reminding me of the city of Shanghai."Roberto Coin


Shanghai bracelet in
18K yellow gold with
semiprecious stones
MSRP: $15,000

Erica Courtney

“I was so thrilled to hear that emerald green was chosen as the Pantone Color of the Year for 2013. I absolutely love the color green because it is such an amazing, bold and eye-catching hue. Gold metal and the rich color of green gemstones are a perfect match and are flattering on just about anyone.” Erica Courtney



18K gold and diamond
emerald cabochon
Czarina ring

MSRP: $70,000


K. Brunini

K.Brunini Objects Organique earrings in 18K yellow gold with tourmaline briolettes (approx. 12 TCW) and turquoise bead cascades
MSRP: $4,280 |





"Today Solana Beach, tomorrow Dharamsala. The sights and smells of salt air mixed with saffron, lapis, masala, chartreuse — sour, sweet and acid. Do not try to wake me from this dream." Katey Brunini

Ray Griffiths

“This is my take on classic Ottoman Empire work representing diamonds set in silver. It’s more about the craftsmanship than what you see face forward. I am very much into mixing classic crafts and I love the mix of Ottoman and European crafts. It suits the current style in jewelry, and it’s true to form for me! And, the pieces are timeless and will not be ugly in the future.”Ray Griffiths



18K yellow gold asymmetric ring set with three tourmalines (6.5 TCW) in oxidized silver with pave diamond surround (1.5 TCW)
MSRP: $12,090 |

Pamela Huizenga

“My Seaside Collection was my first real collection. It was inspired by the time I have spent in the islands with my family, from my childhood to now, bringing my own children to the same beaches.” Pamela Huizenga

Seaside bracelet featuring aquamarine, rainbow moonstone, brown sapphire, white topaz, blue topaz and sundial shell
MSRP: $1,900

Walt Adler

“A shifting sea and landscaping, rippling, flowing, merging. Blueing, greening.
Could I capture those mesmerizing margins in sterling and gemstones?
The sea folds, withdraws, returns. The shore undulates in response.
A still motion piece must curve into itself and into itself again, gemstones evolving life.
Never ending, all embracing.
Infinity captured in a moment, cast and set into the Mesmerize Bangle.” Walter Adler Chefitz














Mesmerize Bangle bracelet in sterling silver
and Swarovski topaz (26.40 TCW)
MSRP: $9,500 |

Jewelry photo by: Bert Spangemacher; Inspiration photo by:

Mixed Cut medium diamond hoop
earrings in 18K white gold
MSRP: $28,500

Ivanka Trump

“We love the combination of bold straight lines and feminine fluidity of curved shapes seen in classic art and architectural designs. We wanted to translate that inspiration into a modern yet elegant group of diamond pieces. Our Mixed Cut Collection has been quite successful for our brand and we are expanding with new designs at Couture.” Geoffrey Hess, president


“Last summer, I spent one month in Africa, and it was incredible! I had the chance to be very close to the animals, and my new collection is entirely inspired by the African continent. I was impressed by the diversity of all these magnificent species; I spent hours and hours observing each of them. For some reason, the zebras are what really caught my attention. They are very protective of each other and so sweet. They can stay still for a long time, and I find them very beautiful.” Colette Steckel


Rattan earrings
in 24K gold
MSRP: $5,495

Emily & Ashley

“Our inspiration for the Cherry Blossom earrings comes from our travels to Japan. After visiting the Golden Palace in Kyoto and spending time in Tokyo, we fell in love with the beauty of cherry blossom trees.” Emily and Ashley Green

18K gold and white sapphire
cherry blossom earrings
MSRP: $2,960















Stephen Webster

“Couture Voyage is inspired by my travels. My work takes me all over the world, so why not make a collection inspired by some of my favorite destinations. The New York collection draws on classic art deco silhouettes, taking inspiration from the city’s iconic Chrysler Building. Set with exceptional Forevermark diamonds, the New York bracelet and earrings perfectly embody the decadence of this celebrated era.”Stephen Webster

Couture Voyage New York earrings in 18K white gold set with pavé diamonds (8.35 TCW), baguette cut diamonds (1.66 TCW) and Forevermark diamonds (1.98 TCW)
MSRP: Price on request


Shooting Star ring in 18K blackened yellow gold with diamonds (1.76 TCW)
MSRP: $5,770 |







“Since childhood, I’ve had this belief that wishes do come true when you wish on a shooting star. Whether it is true or not, I’d like to believe in the myth. The star means hopes and dreams to me, and that is why the star motif design is included in my collection.”Emily and Suejin Lee


“My vision as a designer has always pointed toward an Iberian scenery made familiar to me through the voices of poets Federico García Lorca and Antonio Machado. My primary collections pay tribute to these men whose poetry is like a looking glass into the themes and images that inspire my designs and artistic obsessions.”Emily Armenta



Old World 18K yellow gold and "midnight" oxidized sterling silver rings with green turquoise/white quartz and lapis/white quartz doublets and boulder opals with white and black diamonds, sapphires and tourmaline.
MSRP: (from L-R) $3,680; $2,800; $3,845; $4,300; $3,145



Vanessa Leu

“Sunstone is a beautiful American-mined gem from the heart of Oregon. I was inspired by the gem and its environment. I felt that the gem was a beautiful reflection of its Oregon origins, with a loving, healthy and radiant energy. All jewels should be created this way to maintain their pure energy — with love and compassion from the very beginning to the very end — from the miner, to the cutter, to the designer. We believe that creating jewels in this way brings the wearer the best benefits.” Vanessa Leu




Sun Rays drop earrings with sunstone and black diamonds in 18K rose gold
MSRP: $9,520

Cynthia Ann Jewels

“I was inspired by my travels throughout Europe and the assortment of beautiful, antique religious medals I found. The Adele pendant was inspired from our signature scallop bezel design. The unique textures and feminine touch combined create a bold statement piece.”Cynthia Ann Stewart

Couture Voyage New York earrings in 18K white gold set with pavé diamonds (8.35 TCW), baguette cut diamonds (1.66 TCW) and Forevermark diamonds (1.98 TCW)
MSRP: Price on request |

Jemma Wynne Privé 18K
yellow gold and diamond bangles
MSRP: $995-$4,725|

Jemma Wynne

“We love how the interior of a room sets a mood and captures a specific feeling, as does a piece of art. There is something about the picture of this staircase that is so dramatic yet understated — a fine balance of simplicity and elegance. We’re inspired by the contrast of the gold frames against the stark white walls and the clean and crisp feel of the interior. Our gold and diamond bangle collection has that same crisp and chic feel, juxtaposed with elements of mixed texture and geometric shapes.” Jenny Klatt and Stephanie Wynne

Mimi So

“ZoZo is a reflection of my time on the Italian coast over a summer retreat. This exclusive collection is comprised only of bespoke, one-of-a-kind pieces featuring organic Australian boulder opals. I was inspired by the graphic rocks and surrounding beauty of Portofino’s sea of blue and green water.” Mimi So

ZoZo earrings in 18K white gold featuring boulder opals (101 TCW) and pavé diamonds (0.80 TCW)
MSRP: $86,000


“This season, we have created an extension to our much loved Willow Collection. The delicate, organic shape of the willow leaf has been a huge hit, but a little known fact is that the shape and name of the collection comes from my real life. The very first tree that Fiona and I planted on our roof deck looked like a bare 6-inch stick when we first stuck it in the pot. It is now a 30-foot willow tree towering over the garden. So it seems the growth of the tree has echoed the success of the collection!” GURHAN




Sterling silver with 24K gold five strand necklace from the Willow Collection
MSRP: $2,125

Sterling silver with 24K gold five strand dangle earrings from the Willow Collection
MSRP: $1,425

Carla Amorim

“My latest collection is an honor to our greatest classical Brazilian composer, Heitor Villa Lobos. Villa Lobos said that his music — including Fiandeira, a classical piece composed in 1921 — was inspired by the sound of birds singing. I thought of birds and the trees they fly through to design Fiandeiras.” Carla Amorim




Fiandeira ring in 18K white gold featuring white diamonds (2.05 TCW) and 4.20-carat paraiba tourmaline
MSRP: $108,900

Mallary Marks

“Architectural screens — I love this form of architecture above all else. It feeds my obsession with indoor/outdoor space, shadow, mystery, negative space, pattern, and silhouettes, and the way light reflects through the in between spaces.” Mallary Marks

Kite earrings in 18K gold featuring light cornflower blue cabochon sapphires with mint emerald briolettes
MSRP: $4,000 |




Monica Rich Kosann

“On a recent trip to Paris, I fell in love with a vintage brooch that was filled with rose-cut diamonds. I have always loved rose-cut diamonds; they bring back a sense of an elegant era. I thought combining the rose-cut diamonds with initials would create an ultimate bespoke locket for a woman. Then, when I was in Russia, I came across this statue and felt that the woman really needed a locket to complete her look.”Monica Rich Kosann

18K yellow gold bespoke
initial locket with rose cut
diamond accents on 32" chain
MSRP: $14,500


Heather B. Moore Jewelry

“The impression my children have made on my character is priceless. They make me smile every day. They are the inspiration behind this Wrapped Oval channel ring.” Heather Moore



Wrapped Oval channel ring in 14K yellow gold set with 77 1.5mm cognac diamonds, with Heather Moore’s kids’ names stamped in a repeat pattern
MSRP: $4,830 |

Paolo Costagli

“From the Brillante Collection is a high-polish, geometric collection inspired by the Doge’s Palace in Venice. I was taken by certain sections of the pavement found in the palace and I transformed this ancient tiling into wearable fine jewelry.” Paolo Costagli

18K gold cuff bracelets from the Brillante collection
MSRP: $22,000 and up

Suzanne Kalan

“These cuffs were created out of necessity and comfort for myself. If there’s something I need and want, if it’s missing in my collection, then it’s safe to say that it’s something most women need. I love bracelets, especially bangles, but they are not easy to wear while working. Usually they are bulky and sometimes get in the way. These cuffs are very comfortable; in fact, they’re so easy to wear that sometimes I forget I have them on.”Suzanne Kalan

18K rose, white and yellow gold bracelets
and cuffs with mix of white and
black diamonds and semi-precious stones
MSRP: $6,600 – $12,000

Carolina Bucci

“The Gitane collection is a more exuberant collection than usual, inspired by a freedom of spirit that is summed up by the images of Sophia Loren in the ’60s that I was looking at while designing. A carefree mix of exotic femininity and Old World magic.” Carolina Bucci

Sparkly link earrings
in 18K yellow gold
MSRP: $1,320 |

Melissa Joy Manning

“It was on a leisurely hike through the grounds of a gorgeous plantation in Bali that I stumbled upon this oasis in the jungle. Lush green foliage, murky green waters, and mossy green rocks created an atmosphere of amazing stillness and calm. This color study was a major impact on my work this season. Not only was I fascinated by the multiple ranges of the same color, but I was intrigued with how the multiplicity of greens impacted my mood.”Melissa Joy Manning

Limited edition 14K gold and sterling silver chrysoprase and blue turbo shell upside-down open faced ring
MSRP: $850

Limited edition 14K gold and sterling silver Mexican apatite stick, chrysoprase and ram horn operculum three-drop earring
MSRP: $990



Wilkerson Testimonials

Wilkerson Helped This Jeweler to Navigate His Retirement Sale Despite a Pandemic

Hosting a going-out-of-business sale when the coronavirus pandemic hit wasn’t a part of Bob Smith’s game plan for his retirement. Smith, the owner of E.M. Smith Jewelers in Chillicothe, Ohio, says the governor closed the state mid-way through. But Smith chose Wilkerson, and Wilkerson handled it like a champ, says Smith. And when it was time for the state to reopen, the sale continued like nothing had ever happened. “I’d recommend Wilkerson,” he says. “They do business the way we do business.”

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