Each year the Wynn plays host to Couture, the premiere fine jewelry destination during Las Vegas’ Jewelry Market Week. The event hosts over 200 heritage brands and emerging designers, 4,000-plus retailers, and editors from the top glossies.
Though it was our first trip to Couture, it was, in fact, the show’s 20th anniversary. In a nutshell, it felt a bit like jewelry Fashion Week. Buyers and editors dress to impress, designers are eager to showcase their most exquisite pieces, the champagne flows freely, and visual delights abound.
In this sparkling setting, we caught up with old acquaintances and forged new friendships as we took in all that Couture had to offer. Here we’ve rounded up just a small selection of designers that caught our eye. We’re already eagerly awaiting next year’s event! – Emerald Carroll & Jenna Fain
Spinelli Kilcollin • Yves Spinelli of Spinelli Kilcollin is universally adored for his interlinking rings, but is now showing equal prowess in his bracelets, necklaces, and earrings. His dynamic designs are paying off—he won two prestigious awards this year at Couture. We first met Yves last summer as he worked out of his hillside home in Los Angeles. I was instantly drawn to, quite simply, the fun of putting on and wearing each piece. The rings lend such versatility and can change up your jewelry look by being worn across each finger, with an element of edge, or classically stacked.
Bibi Van Der Velden • Bibi van der Velden’s wearable art feels substantial because of its deep symbolism and element of surprise. The head motif we saw at Couture is a new iteration of her work. She’s also artist and sculptor, which clearly influences her extensive collection. My personal favorite is Bibi’s scarab jewelry—the pieces are made of real scarab wings and there’s a fascinating, delicate process behind preserving them. I also love the cloud collection, which uses more experimental materials.
Ileana Makri • Ileana Makri is based in Athens, a city we’re seeing a lot of exciting jewelry talent out of right now. In the multi-colored rings pictured, each stone is an individual ring and they all stack and fit into each other like a gorgeous series of puzzle pieces. The cuff shown is made from titanium, a metal that seems to be popping up more regularly in the jewelry world and a material she has already mastered. I like her use of universal and Greek iconography and the sense of magic that accompanies it.
Monique Péan • Monique Péan’s environmentally friendly, one-of-a-kind pieces have piqued our interest since her brand launched in 2006. Unique materials like fossilized walrus ivory and dinosaur bone are regularly featured in her work, and lend an element of history and enchantment to her collections. This season Péan has explored the hexagon motif in several of her new pieces. This pleasing and balanced geometrical shape is beautifully imagined in a range of conversation-starting materials.
Colette • Colette Steckel’s pieces left us seeing stars. Born to a French-Mexican family, Colette’s interest in stones and jewelry started at the age of thirteen when she began designing her first stone accessories. Her work reflects the worldly designer’s multi-cultural background and frequent travels. I’m a fan of her classic celestial pieces which never fail to stun. I know what I’ll be wishing for upon my next shooting star…after all, the sky’s the limit!
Nikos Koulis • There’s no shortage of great jewelry talent coming out of Greece (see Ileana Makri above and Lito Karakostanoglou), and Nikos Koulis’ latest work really caught my eye at Couture. He calls his pieces ‘addictively elegant,’ an appropriate description. I’m loving the angular, Deco-inspired pieces shown here, and of course I’m always a sucker for an emerald accent (à la the cuff pictured at right). I look forward to seeing how Koulis lends his contemporary edge to future modern classics.
Martin Scorsese’s Casino (1995) • After all the glitz and glamour of Vegas, coming home to grey, rainy NYC seemed decidedly drab. How did we combat our jewel-induced ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ hangover? By watching an old favorite, Martin Scorsese’s 1995 classic Casino. Coincidentally the film, like Couture itself, is also celebrating its 20th birthday this year. The epic Vegas crime drama with a glittering 70s facade is sure to distract you from the banality of the everyday.
The costumes by Rita Ryack dazzle from start to finish, even as the film slips into inevitable destruction and betrayal. Rumor has it her costume design budget for the film, including dressing over 7,000 extras, was a cool $1 million. Sharon Stone’s character Ginger McKenna had 40 costume changes, and the picture includes a now infamous bedroom bling scene (see above) featuring $2 million in Stone’s favorite gold Bulgari jewelry. As Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein, Robert DeNiro had a whopping 70 costume changes, and the actor directly participated in the morning ritual of selecting the ring and watch his character would wear with each look. Watch to enjoy cinematic escapism at its finest!
Photography by Emerald Carroll for The Stone Set.