20 Designers to Watch in 2020 and Beyond: The Color Kids

EditorsJan 13, 2020

20 Designers to Watch in 2020 and Beyond: The Color Kids

In the first installment of a five-part series, Senior Editor Ashley Davis shines a light on creatives with an eye for color.

Rings by Selim Mouzannar

While earlier decades of jewelry design belonged to iconic houses like Tiffany & Co., Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, history will remember the 2000s for the ascendance of the independent jewelry brand.

The aforementioned jewelry giants remain household names but in the tenuous relationship between art and commerce, business always wins, often at the cost of creativity.

A true design lover is better off turning her or his attention to the vast array of artists creating for their own brands.

And the amount is vast, with designers often complaining of market saturation (as well as the ubiquity of copycats).  

With independent labels becoming the new norm, a wave of artistry thrives, with the standout brands that much more impressive for carving out a spot in a crowded marketplace.

And, it’s important to mention, the majority of today’s independent fine jewelry companies are headed by women, a significant anomaly to other industries and a major shift for fine jewelry.

National Jeweler often begins a new year with a list of relevant trends or designers to watch over the coming months, but the dawn of a new decade calls for a more elaborate approach.

With input from industry insiders, I’ve selected 20 designers I’ll be looking to over the next decade—brands I believe to have longevity, that have demonstrated they are directional, original and firm in their creative identities.

They are also designers who influence their pool of contemporaries, often, unfortunately, spawning imitators, but nevertheless forging ahead with their own ideas.  

Of course, it wasn’t easy to narrow the list to 20, but these brands fit the particular criteria of having already established their creative prowess, yet likely haven’t reached their full potential, meaning we anticipate so much more from them in the 2020s.

Below, see the first of our five-part series, which shines a light on the fine jewelry designers with an eye for color. 

The Color Kids: Brent Neale, Polly Wales, Retrouvaí, Selim Mouzannar

Brent Neale
Designer: Brent Neale Winston
Founded: 2017
Based In: New York
Key Retailers: Twist, Hirshleifers, Forty Five Ten

How could such a new brand display such an assured sense of self?

For Brent Neale’s Brent Neale Winston it meant taking the long road, studying at FIT and working for eight years under Kara Ross.

Today, many fine jewelry brands count whimsical or tongue-in-cheek motifs as their design signature, but Winston is

the one who makes them elegant.

Rainbows and marijuana leaves, or sea shells, hearts and mushrooms, become evening-appropriate when interpreted through the lens of Winston’s excellent taste.

Her joie de vivre is aided by lots of color—chalcedony, carnelian and malachite, as well as every shade of sapphire. Her modern take on a “gypsy ring,” in which she combines different gemstones in chunky gold rings, are ultra-covetable.   

“In just a few years, Brent has created her own, distinct visual language,” noted jewelry editor, stylist and consultant Kareem Rashed.

“It’s bold and playful but also super-wearable — who else could have made gem-studded mushrooms a thing? She really gets how to make fine jewelry that speaks to the next generation of collectors.”

Polly Wales
Founded: 2010
Based In: Los Angeles
Key Retailers: Tomfoolery, Greenwich St Jewelers, ABC Carpet & Home, Twist 

Wunderkind Polly Wales is synonymous with her cast-not-set technique, which is exactly what it sounds like: a process the British designer has refined in which diamonds and gemstones are cast directly in gold.

The resulting effect is primordial, captivating and unusual, about as strong of a design signature as one could create; there’s simply no mistaking another designer’s work for Polly Wales.  

Despite her technique’s specificity, she continuously breathes fresh life into her eponymous line with highly technical creations, the most impressive of which are usually unveiled at the annual Couture jewelry trade show in Las Vegas.

In these she expresses her incredible color mastery, mixing complementary shades or the entire rainbow in museum-worthy pieces.

"Polly has such a special and unique point of view," said Jennifer Gach, who first encountered the brand during her long tenure as an accessories editor at ELLE Magazine, before working with the designer in her current role as IHPR jewelry director.

"She has a signature style that is all her own, and her evolution over the last few years has been so exciting to watch. I love that each piece is one-of-a-kind and made with so much love."

Designer: Kirsty Stone
Founded: 2015
Based In: Los Angeles
Key Retailers: Ylang23, ETC (Aspen and Birmingham), Browns

Retrouvaí’s Kirsty Stone is arguably the leader of the current inlay trend, employing materials like rhodochrosite, lapis lazuli and turquoise to create large, vibrant color palettes.

These opaque materials are at their most alluring when coupled with faceted gemstones, as in Stone’s “Lollipop” rings and pendants, each of which is one-of-a-kind.

The Canadian designer has found her footing in a relatively short period of time, with her highly personal collection of heirloom-esque jewels that reinterpret signet rings and vintage styles in a modern way while retaining an old-fashioned sweetness and femininity.

Dallas, and Forth Worth, Texas boutique Ylang 23’s Alysa Teichman said of the brand: “I continue to be taken by Kirsty Stone’s evolution since we first saw her work at our emerging designer’s competition TheNextNow in 2016.

“Her icons and use of color get better and better, and we can’t wait to see the direction Retrouvaí heads.”

Selim Mouzannar
Founded: 1993
Based In: Beirut, Lebanon
Key Retailers: Bergdorf Goodman, Elyse Walker, Marissa Collections, Broken English

Lebanese designer Selim Mouzannar descends from a long jewelry legacy, but puts a contemporary spin on his eponymous collection’s old-world sophistication.

The designer transforms everyday fine jewelry basics—a stud earring, a solitaire stacking ring—into conversation pieces through his intricate detailing and excellent craftsmanship, featuring clusters of diamonds and colored gemstones.

His penchant for color is exemplified by recent creations coupling colored gems with enamel.

“His use of color is some of the most impressive I’ve seen to date,” said Teichman. “The enamel shades he selects for his collection in combination with different gemstones makes for an innovative, fresh approach.”

Mouzannar’s expertise is even better showcased in larger, one-of-a-kind jewels, in which he continues to play with the many possibilities of combining color, from the reserved to the daring.

“He leverages his family’s decades of jewelry-making experience in Lebanon to introduce a new approach to color each season with second-to-none quality.”

Ashley Davisis the senior editor, fashion at National Jeweler, covering all things related to design, style and trends.

The Latest

Brian and Jessie Mann
IndependentsJul 19, 2024
Longtime D.C. Jeweler Brian Mann Dies at 70

Mann, whose family’s jewelry store was located inside the Pentagon, is remembered for being a thoughtful champion of the industry.

Tudor store in Denver
IndependentsJul 19, 2024
The 1916 Company Opens New Tudor Boutique

The 500-square-foot boutique is located in Denver’s Cherry Creek Shopping Center.

Messika’s So Move Max Necklace
CollectionsJul 19, 2024
Piece of the Week: Messika’s ‘So Move Max’ Necklace

Dance all night long with the “So Move Max” set’s necklace.

Untitled design.jpg
Brought to you by
The End of an Era? Lab-Grown Diamonds' Journey Towards Price Stability

As the demand for lab-grown diamond jewelry may still be increasing, the most notable change we are likely to see is price stabilization.

Julien Tornare and Antoine Pin
WatchesJul 18, 2024
TAG Heuer, Hublot Will Have New CEOs

Luxury giant LVMH is reshuffling the leadership in its watches division.

Weekly QuizJul 18, 2024
This Week’s Quiz
Test your jewelry news knowledge by answering these questions.
Take the Quiz
Etsy billboard rendering in NYC
MajorsJul 18, 2024
New Etsy Campaign Prioritizes Creators Amid Backlash

Sellers and shoppers have spoken out against a rise in mass-produced merchandise on the platform meant to highlight handmade goods.

Ariana Grande Modeling in Swarovski Jewelry
MajorsJul 18, 2024
Swarovski Names Ariana Grande as Its New Brand Ambassador

The celebrity will star in Swarovski’s holiday campaign.

1872 x 1052 Gemolite.jpg
Brought to you by
Meet Gemology’s Next Generation Microscope: GIA® Gemolite® NXT Professional Edition

GIA®’s most advanced microscope has new features to optimize greater precision and comfort.

Grizzly emerald
SourcingJul 18, 2024
Grizzly Emerald Auction Garners $32.5 million

The miner said an 835-carat emerald saw “stiff competition” in its July sale.

Tahnee Barbee, Gigi Sui, and Daniela Villacorta
Events & AwardsJul 18, 2024
MJSA Education Foundation Announces 3 Scholarship Winners

The winners were awarded $3,000 each to pursue a professional career in jewelry making and design.

Smiling Rocks Haute Couture Dream Necklace
Lab-GrownJul 17, 2024
Lab-Grown Diamond ‘Dream’ Necklace Sells for $122K at Charity Auction

The piece, created by Smiling Rocks, was the top lot at the recent Ormeley Dinner.

Diavik Diamond Mine solar power plant
SourcingJul 17, 2024
Rio Tinto’s Diamond Production Down 28% in Q2

The company’s sole remaining diamond operation, Diavik, produced 702,000 carats of diamonds, down from 970,000 a year ago.

Buccellati high jewelry earrings
FinancialsJul 17, 2024
Richemont’s Q1 Jewelry Sales Up 2%

In contrast, the luxury giant’s watch sales fell 14 percent.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the jewelry design contest.
Events & AwardsJul 16, 2024
2024 AGTA Spectrum Awards Open for Entries

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the jewelry design contest and the deadline for entries has just been extended.

Macy’s Herald Square store
MajorsJul 16, 2024
Macy’s Ends Buyout Talks

The retailer will not be making a deal with Arkhouse Management and Brigade Capital Management, opting to focus on its turnaround plan.

Crime police cars
CrimeJul 16, 2024
Thieves Nab $500K in Jewelry in Calif. Group Smash-and-Grab

The Berkeley robbery follows two other Bay Area robberies involving multiple suspects, one in May and one in June.

National Jeweler columnist Lilian Raji
ColumnistsJul 16, 2024
The PR Adviser: Awareness Starts With Your Online Store

Lilian Raji discusses the importance of having an intentional website design that aligns with your brand or store’s goals.

Catbird The Met collection
CollectionsJul 16, 2024
Catbird Debuts New Met Collection

It’s the second collaborative offering from the jewelry brand and the New York City art museum.

Craftsman holding Pomellato Arengario necklace
MajorsJul 16, 2024
Pomellato Acquires Valenza Setting Lab

The Kering-owned brand bought VSL to reinforce its manufacturing capabilities.

Ewa Abrams, Kering’s new president for the Americas
MajorsJul 16, 2024
Kering Appoints New President for Americas Region

The luxury conglomerate promoted General Counsel Ewa Abrams to the role, succeeding Laurent Claquin.

Tanzanite ring
MajorsJul 15, 2024
Signet Falls 11 Spots on NRF’s ‘Top 100’ Retailers List

The jewelry giant came in at No. 67 on the list, down from No. 56 last year.

 2025 Gem Awards logo
Events & AwardsJul 15, 2024
Nominations Are Open for the 2025 Gem Awards

Submissions in the categories of Jewelry Design, Media Excellence, and Retail Excellence will be accepted through Aug. 23.

Sunlit’s Sun Goddess Supreme Ring and Pyramid Rutilated Quartz Necklace
Events & AwardsJul 15, 2024
NY Now Expands Emerging Designer Segment for Its Summer Market

Curated at Luxury Lifestyle will build on the former initiative, the Emerging Fine Jewelry Designer Incubator.

Collage of Caitlin Albritton and her jewelry
Events & AwardsJul 15, 2024
Halstead Announces 2024 Grant Winner

Caitlin Albritton won the 19th annual Halstead Grant for emerging jewelry businesses.

Myne London
CollectionsJul 12, 2024
Myne London to Support Malala Fund

The emerald supplier will donate a percentage of sales from its “Star Power” earrings to the nonprofit in support of girls’ education.

The Jewelry Symposium logo
Events & AwardsJul 12, 2024
The Jewelry Symposium Is Looking for Speakers

TJS is seeking jewelry manufacturing and technology experts to speak at its 2025 event.

Sculptural Freeform Earrings
CollectionsJul 12, 2024
Piece of the Week: Marrow Fine’s ‘Sculptural Freeform’ Earrings

The earrings were inspired by the landscape at Joshua Tree and Jean Arp’s abstract sculptures.


This site uses cookies to give you the best online experience. By continuing to use & browse this site, we assume you agree to our Privacy Policy