If a customer’s craving color, rainbow gemstone concepts are plentiful, and decidedly on-trend. But for those who prefer something monochrome—but also acutely modern—an ombré jewel may be the answer. Clients may not know the look by name so you might need to…enlighten them (heh, heh). Use this common reference point: the many nuanced shades of a sunset.
Every stone that emerges from the earth can be pegged to a certain color palette; from there, each hue reveals a gazillion variations and gradients. The California-based designer Mark Patterson might have been the first ombré jewelry practitioner with his Intensity brooches from the 1990s, which expressed the pastel-to-vivid essence of a single rose petal in tiny sapphires.
Indeed, a linear arrangement of gems—say, one or several rows on a ring (see Emily P. Wheeler’s sunshine-like design up top)—is favorite way for designers to articulate an ombré color story. But as the trend accelerates and spreads across all sectors of the industry, these créatrices are finding new ways to embrace the palette.
It could be a handful of tonal stones scattered across the surface of a jewel, or swingy chain earrings dotted with gems in an ombré progression. Sapphires, found in an abundance of tonalities, are the most popular way to create seamless ombré transitions and the best suppliers will have the shades already pre-sorted and color-ordered for easy selection. Meanwhile, plenty of designers feel free to mix and match gemstone varieties (as in, blush pink sapphires, medium pink tourmalines, and rich red rubies all mounted in the same jewel).
Not surprisingly, jewelry designers take their cues from what’s happening in fashion. Ombré is the evolution of the color blocking trend, which has drifted in and out of fashion since the 1960s (see: Yves Saint Lauren and Stephen Burrows). It’s resurfaced over the last decade or so (hat tip: Jenna Lyons at the peak of her J.Crew tenure) and has popped up at Bottega Veneta, Brandon Maxell and Roksanda as recently as 2021.
Ombré has enjoyed prominence in the world of Pinterest wedding style á la Martha Stewart (think: rose petal carpets, deluxe frosted cakes, and hand-dyed silk ribbons). Ombré colors have also had several star turns on the red carpet, including at the 2022 Oscars in which Jessica Chastain accepted her Best Actress award in head-to-toe, rose gold-to-lilac Gucci with jewels that combined coordinating shades of pink, blue and lavender spinels. Meanwhile, actress Lupita Nyong’o went with ombré brown and yellow diamonds with her suite of De Beers earrings and rings.
Below, a look at how the ombré jewelry trend is shaping up for spring.
Love ’n Luck earrings in 18k gold with sapphires and diamonds, $8,500; Future Fortune
Top: Baby Sunrise ombre cigar band in 18k gold with yellow sapphires, $4,600; Emily P. Wheeler