We all know her. That woman with no money who looks effortlessly chic every time she steps out of her cheap apartment.
Rather than $200 tank tops or a 90-minute beauty routine, these days her secret might lie in versatile garments accented by bold cocktail rings and layered metal bands.
“They’re a really easy way to punch up an outfit without worrying about necklines and shirts,”said Irina Schaffer, a local jewelry designer. “Shirts using fabric in a sculptural manner are really big right now, but it’s hard to combine a statement shirt with a statement necklace or earrings.”
This fall cocktail and layer rings are available en masse. But if you want the really good stuff, seek out these Portland artisans who saw this trend coming miles away.
Jane MacLellan, founder of Emily-Jane jewelry bar, has made and sold cocktail rings for more than six years. “It’s the easiest purchase for a woman to make that has resounding impact,” she said. The shop’s rings incorporate Swarovski crystal, chalcopyrite, labradorite and other carefully-chosen stones—some more than an inch in height—often wrapped with wire and rollo chain. Most rings cost upwards of $200, and will be marked 10-75 percent off Sept. 2-4. See the sparkle at Emily-Jane's Lloyd District boutique.
Emily Weinstein: Landscapes on the Hand
Natural stones often resemble the landscapes they come from, notes designer Emily Weinstein. She makes cocktail rings with flat Eastern Oregon stones, some an inch and a half wide. “The patterning looks a lot like pictures of canyons and sky,” she said. She frames those stones in recycled silver and a dark rusted patina finish. Weinstein also makes layer-friendly silver bands with garnet, amethyst, peridot, citrine and quartz. Visit www.etsy.com/shop/PearlEverlasting for Weinstein’s cocktail rings ($68-$134), or www.etsy.com/shop/treanelli for stacking rings ($25-$75).
Irina Schaffer’s work sings whimsy, practicality, and vintage simplicity. Her cocktail rings showcase three-dimensional flowers and owls, wallpaper patterns and Abe Lincoln portraits. She works with 1940s carved glass cabochons and enameled metals, and prices rings in the $9 to $14 range. This fall she’s rolling out antiqued brass pieces with vintage carnival influences in autumnal red, orange and mustard yellow. Watch for them at Frock on Alberta.
Wrap a cluster of semi-precious gems in non-tarnished brass or silver wire and you get the powerfully feminine Desire ring, sold in several colors at $50 from Lauren Harkness. For the layered look, she makes hammered mixed-metal bands for men and women at $30 each. This fall her work includes labradorite, garnet, smokey quartz and moonstone. It’s all available at Portland Saturday Market in Old Town-Chinatown, or by appointment at Lauren Harkness Handmade Luxury, 2440 E. Burnside in Buckman.
Elyse Bunkers: Conversation Pieces
“My idea of a cocktail ring is a conversation piece—wearable art,” said Elyse Bunkers. Her sterling silver rings showcase freshwater pearls and vintage rhinestones in shapes made with a free-form casting process. The rings range from a quarter-inch to a full inch in diameter, and from $30 to $60. For fall, she’s riveting enameled discs and concave spheres onto layerable bands. Bunkers’ work is at boutiques including Pin Me Apparel on Mississippi Avenue and Radish Underground in Downtown.
Julie Benois-Sage’s approach to cocktail rings speaks to the local take on a national trend: She wraps large, semi-precious stones in sterling silver wire, then sells them at Local Discoveries on Alberta Street, which offers only local, handcrafted goods. Her work incorporates aquamarine, garnet, amethyst, smokey quartz and moonstone, and rings are about $55. “The thing is trying to keep it affordable so the neighborhood can come in and dress up,” she said.
“In order for a piece of jewelry stand out in the layers that we [wear in fall], it needs to have some pop,” said designer Amy Wing. “Chunky rings are a perfect way to do that.” Her rings balance boldness with spacious metal compositions or with chunky, light-colored stones. Stacking rings are currently available from Wing, and the new cocktail rings are on their way this fall at Portland Saturday Market, Flora in Downtown, Tilde in Sellwood-Moreland, ped X on Alberta Street and Stella's on 21st in Northwest District.
Photos courtesy of artisans.