The jewelry getting the most attention this spring leaves the flashy carats behind and seems to draw its inspiration from the mineral samples in a science museum gift shop. Agate, malachite, moonlight crystal, quartz and shimmering drusies are set in gold, wrapped in wire, strung as pendants or faceted as cocktail rings in ways that showcase the best of what nature has to offer.
"Authentic more natural stones are the 'new bling,' " says Julie Gilhart, senior vice president and fashion director of Barneys New York. "There is a handmade craft and artisanal feel to them, which feels fresh and new."
Pieces that feel special but without over-the-top glitz make sense right now, says L.A.-based jewelry designer Devon Leigh. "People are reaching back to the earth and to things that happen naturally," she explains. "There are a lot of negative things happening in the world, and ideas found in nature are balancing and comforting." Leigh uses geodes -- plain on the outside, glittery crystal on the inside -- in her work, slicing them for one-of-a-kind earrings and necklace pendants.
Yves Saint Laurent's spring collection of rings and necklaces has a similar handcrafted aesthetic, incorporating stones such as turquoise and agate. The stones that sit on top of the "Arty" cocktail rings are encased in what looks like molded gold, formed and set in a rough but sophisticated way. The swerving lines of the setting and varying surface textures add to the organic appeal.