Grey is not the first colour that comes to mind for jewellery. But this quiet shade is gaining popularity with designers seeking more subdued hues as they venture beyond the bright lights of colour gemstones and the perennial appeal of the sparkle of diamonds. The most grown-up and philosophical of colours, grey offers an alternative in tune with our times where contemplation and meditation are ever more highly appreciate.
Usually bursting with a rainbow of eye-popping colour, Pomellato’s Nudo takes a walk on the dark side. Sensitive to the lightest of shifts in mood, Vincenzo Castaldo, Creative Director of the Milanese house, chose obsidian set in grey titanium flanked by black diamonds for a recent version of the house’s iconic Nudo jewels. ‘This is a nocturnal and mysterious interpretation of Nudo that evokes an intimate and introspective dimension,’ explains Castaldo. ‘Nudo has always talked to our emotions with its precious gemstone colour palette, but the grey version of Nudo whispers to our inner world… grey is a colour that is perfect in the Milanese metropolitan atmosphere, evoking the nuances of flannel and reminding us of an androgynous taste, let’s say less romantic and more intellectual or meditative.’ The symbolism of obsidian is also intriguing and Castaldo reminds us that ‘obisidian is a naturally occurring volcanic glass thought to offer protection against negativity and encourage the surfacing of secrets and hidden emotions.’
Looking beyond translucent stones, Pomellato also brought us intriguing shades of grey as found in opaque or ornamental stones. The ground-breaking Armonie Minerali collection included several slate-tone creations including a grey banded agate ring (above) and dendritic opal jewels.
Tomasz Donocik transports us from his East London workshop to a futuristic cosmic venue with the Dusk Halo jewels from his Stellar Collection. Playing with different degrees of opacity and transparency, Donocik creates a galaxy of grey hematite, howlite – veined like white marble – complemented by baguette and round cut white diamonds. Inspired by the work of the 1970’s US minimalist artist, the result is uncannily futuristic yet with an Art Deco air. Beyond the conceptual and aesthetic realms a practical consideration is at play: ‘I chose a monochrome palette of greys and shades of white that doesn’t clash with outfits,’ says Donocik, ‘a lot of my jewellery has a lot of colour. I call these the dusk colours as they are more neutral and therefore more versatile with what you are wearing.’
Manpriya B offers a different take on diamonds revealing a soft grey glow and enigmatic candour not normally associated with the king of gems. The designer uses wafer thin slices that are more commonly used to fabricate polki diamonds that feature largely in traditional Indian jewellery. This way, Manpriya offers a low-key and lightweight way to wear a whole lot of diamond. ‘Most sliced diamonds have some colour, particularly the larger ones I work with,’ says Manpriya. ‘I choose slices with good clarity and colour and the overall effect can be a very beautiful pale to a slightly darker grey… Their irregular shape may be accentuated by an outline of rose-cut diamonds or embedded in black onyx to highlight the delicate grey tones. The beauty is in the imperfection of these wonderful stones.’
If diamonds represent the excesses of the noughties, and colour gemstones and opals the alternative vibe of the last decade then grey gemstones may well be this era’s spiritual connection to a kinder and more caring world. But listen carefully, as they never shout but only whisper.
By MARIA DOULTON
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