The best jewelry designers set trends and also contribute to the narrative of jewelry history with fresh collections based on traditional jewelry forms such as chain-link necklaces, bracelets, rings and earrings. What’s more, silhouettes that revitalize forms and concepts that are rooted in tradition are destined to stay relevant to jewelry lovers. In London-based Nadine Aysoy’s case, she excels at chain-link based 18-karat gold designs featuring colored stones and diamonds, along with “illusion” or “illusory” settings in 18-karat gold. (Illusion settings enhance the apparent size of gemstones by minimizing the amount of metal holding the stones in place.) From June 9 until June 12, Aysoy, who has six distinctive collections on offer, is exhibiting in the Design Atelier of Couture Las Vegas. Of special interest are her “Catena” range of chain-themed designs that feature Aysoy’s illusion settings. Jewels from her Tsarina, Le Cercle, Mille et Une Feuilles and Petite Tsarina collections also offer her distinctive brand of carefree yet elegant looks.
Given that she specializes in subtly luxurious yet versatile 18-karat gold and gemstone jewels, it seems only natural that Aysoy’s father and grandfather were eminent Antwerp diamantaires. Long before producing her eponymous collections and earning her gemology credentials, however, Aysoy worked as a private banker and thus has a firm grasp of jewelry design plus the business of jewelry. While her collections are on offer at online luxury purveyors such as Moda Operandi, Selfridges, Matches Fashion and MyTheresa.com, Nadine Aysoy rings, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, pendants and ear cuffs grace the upmarket Paris boutique Mad Lords, as well as at Joseph’s in New Orleans; the Webster Montecito and Soho and Five Story in West Palm Beach.
Aysoy, who wore emerald Catena earrings and a flexible Catena diamond ring when this writer interviewed her, began by explaining the passions and primary motivations behind her collections. “I love jewelry and am fastidious about comfort and ease of wear,” she began. “The Catena collection is all about re-imagining chains, and it features smooth surfaces, soft, sensually-shaped links, flashes of deeply saturated colors, stack-ability, mobility and wear-ability,” she said. “The classic chain link,” she continued, “is reworked into an easy-to-wear yet highly tactile jewel with a range of gem options, including diamonds with illusion settings, sapphires, rubies, emeralds, tourmalines, peridots, topaz and pearls.” The newest additions to Catena include vivid touches of enamel,” Aysoy said.
Noting that, “The best jewelry feels comfortable, as if it is moving with the body, rather than merely lying rigid on top of it,” Aysoy added, “Catena pieces are designed for people to combine and wear diamonds and colored gemstones in as many ways as they can imagine.” When this writer noted that chains represent such eternal aspects of the human condition as bonds of love, friendship, and family ties, Aysoy added, “Various heritage luxury brands such as Cartier, Bulgari, Hermès and Chanel as well as designers on all continents the world over have been exploring the aesthetic and technical possibilities of chains for centuries. In my own small but serious way, I’m part of that tradition.”
As Aysoy demonstrated how the 18-karat gold links of her Catena diamond ring flex and allow for easy wearing and removal, the ergonomic nature of her design was immediately apparent— and impressive. “My challenge as a designer lies in re-imagining the possibilities of various materials, forms and concepts,” she noted. One thinks of Jeanne Toussaint, Cartier’s artistic director of haute joaillerie in the 1930s, who was the first ever to suggest that Cartier watch bands be constructed of interconnected gold links, rather than of standard watchband materials like leather or grosgrain. “The invention of gold link watchbands was definitely an important step in jewelry history,” Aysoy noted. “It’s always worth discussing how women have originated new jewelry and watch design and technical concepts.”
While this writer noted that Catena pieces embody a distinctive update of the chain concept, Aysoy responded: “One of the things I enjoy about the Catena collection is that it has led me to make unexpected types of convertible jewels.” For example, Aysoy presented her Catena Long Heart Pink Topaz Earrings in 18kt rose gold with 4.64 carats of pink topaz. “These earrings consist of a long chain with a heart-shaped pink topaz that can be worn in multiple ways,” she explained. “You can wear the chain so that it dangles straight downwards, or you can fold the chain in half so that the earring post turns the dangler into what is in effect, a hoop earring. So this design offers two distinctly different looks and lengths in the same earring.”
In the case of the Catena Illusion Multistone Diamond Bracelet, Aysoy succeeds at creating a fabulous chain link bracelet (16.60 grams of gold) that’s alive with superior sparkling light. She and her brilliant artisans do this by executing an illusion settingdesign that features a cluster of 0.57 carats of white brilliant, 1.1. carat of marquise, 0.72 carats of pear, 0.29 carats of baguette and 0.62 carats of princess cut diamonds. While the French 19th century jeweler Oscar Massin is historically credited with creating the first illusion setting, Aysoy’s Illusion Multistone diamond Catena bracelet builds on Massin’s tradition. This piece hovers at the high end of Aysoy’s offering, retailing for $22,140.00.
When it comes to color, Aysoy has it covered with the Catena Multistone pastel rainbow bracelet. Featuring oval cut blue topaz, emerald cut citrine, marquise cut green amethyst and heart-shaped pink sapphire, this is radiantly colorful. So are Aysoy’s new necklaces that feature varying cuts of colored gemstones, along with her Tahitian black pearl Catena necklace,which sparkles with tiny pendant diamonds that dangle at different levels of the chain. As regards overtly nature-based designs, the leafy motifs of Aysoy’s Mille et Une Feuilles and the starlight and snowflake-themed silhouettes of the Tsarina and Petite Tsarina collections both embody timeless, organically appealing shapes, textures, materials and visual effects. A case in point is the leafy , 18-karat gold ear cuff from the Mille et Une Feueilles collection that’s studded with .32 carats of tiny diamonds. “This is the kind of jewel that people of various ages can wear during the day or night with all kinds of clothing,” Aysoy said. “I strive to offer a wide range of designs that appeal to diverse life situations and budgets. Jewelry should be as versatile and multitasking as the people who wear it.”