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Daphne Merkin

How a New Generation of Empowered Female Consumers and Indie Designers is Reshaping How We Buy

In the hands of a female jewelry designer, a diamond or sapphire can take on not only a new shape but a new meaning.



From time immemorial, jewelry has been used to validate and display a woman’s worth—usually as an adjunct to a man, either as a wife or a mistress, but also for its own sake. From Cleopatra sailing down the Nile adorned in antique bling to Elizabeth Taylor sporting the 33-carat flawless-diamond ring given to her by Richard Burton, jewelry has always spoken volumes, adding status and perceived value to its wearer.

We tend to think of jewelry design as the fiefdom of male artists and the purchase of investment-level trinkets as the turf of admiring or appreciative (or merely guilt-ridden) husbands and lovers.

Over the past two decades, however, there has been a shift in women’s fashion, away from styles dictated by (usually male) designers, toward a more intuitive but also intellectually oriented female approach. Think the Row, Maria Grazia Chiuri at Dior, and Phoebe Philo, lately of Céline—clothing that is as much in tune with the way women want to feel as with how they want to look. And now, there is a sea change in how jewelry is created and sold.


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Departures | September 10, 2018

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