A three-day modern jewelry expedition
From Saturday, August 19 through Wednesday, August 23rd, there are three jewelry shows in NYC (two of which are trade-only for press and retailers). The weekend began with the first edition of Melee: The Show, which will be over by the time you read this but is where I started my jewelry expedition and uncovered treasures that are featured here in the first of our three-part series.
Melee: The Show is the brainchild of two fierce and uber-talented jewelry designing women Rebecca Overmann and Lauren Wolf (Lauren also owns two successful retail shops— Esqueleto in Oakland and Los Angeles—in which she carries her own work, other designers and a selection of antique pieces).
I was truly bowled over by the venue, the Highline Hotel’s event space with its tiled floors and natural wood staircase leading up to the rooms that were at once large and airy yet intimate with natural daylight streaming through the stained glass window and cathedral windows. Rebecca explains, “Ever since we thought of putting together this first edition of Melee, I had this space in mind.”
Lauren continues, “It seemed the perfect surroundings to present our curated collaboration of some of the leading independent jewelers together where our buyers could chat, be comfortable and engage with the jewelry and the designers.”
Breakaway shows have been sprouting up in fashion, accessories and more recently in fine jewelry as break through designers have decided to go their own way after participating and learning what they like and what they don’t about larger more traditional trade shows. I’ve been fortunate to know many of the designers who participated in this show for years, four of which were in my 2013 book, Jewelry’s Shining Stars, which focused on designer’s shaping jewelry’s future and included both Rebecca and Lauren as well as Sara Freedenfeld of Amali Fine Jewelry and Melissa Joy Manning, all of whom have talent to burn and have evolved over the years since I met them—even before writing the book, when they first began their careers.
I grew up in this business writing about such jewelry superstars as David Rees and Ron Anderson of Ten Thousand Things who revolutionized and made hip the use of yellow gold chain with multiples of the tiniest of beads such as turquoise, rubies and opals and worked them into precious necklaces and bracelets in stations and clusters. As their collection expanded, so did their clientele into an almost cult-like following of who continue to collect and layer their pieces which include multiple charms of gemstone pendants.
I met another designer at the show early on in my career, Annette Ferdinandsen.who was busy honing her craft, while quietly attracting the attention of the most sought after stores in the US and a loyal following. She continues to delight and amaze as her collection, inspired by her garden continues to grow and blossom.
And then there those that I’ve covered over the last few years in many articles—who have gone from ’emerging’ to designers who have ‘arrived.’ These artisans include Ruth Tomlinson, Todd Pownell, Margery Hirschey and Jacqueline Cullen.
Melee also reintroduced me to up & coming designers who possess the drive along with distinctive sensibilities such as Teresa Kahres and WWAKE. If any of these designers are not on your radar, they should be.