White Gold: It's Hot in Italy

By Melanie Kletter
Assistant Editor

VICENZA, ITALY - Jewelry in white gold is the hottest trend coming out of Italy, and although white gold jewelry has been popular in the Italian market for years, many Italian manufacturers are increasing their white gold designs this year and say that sales of white gold jewelry are increasing.

"I think white gold is the biggest trend here this year," said Andrea Visconti of Georgio Visconti, a manufacturing company, during the VicenzaOro1 show held here Jan. 12-19.

"I definitely see a new interest in white gold," said Fabrizio Torrini of Torrini, Florence, which manufactures high-end gold jewelry. "Before now it was an accent, and it has now come into its own. It has a freshness and it is a way to be unique and still wear gold."

One reason some give for the increased popularity of white gold is that demand for platinum has been increasing steadily during the past few years and the two have a similar look. Because platinum jewelry is more expensive than white gold jewelry, demand for the platinum look could be satisfied with the metal, which is an alloy between yellow gold and either nickel or palladium.

Leopold Poli of manufacturer La Nouvelle Bague said another reason he thinks white gold is so popular is that it is understated and people are interested in that concept now.

American buyers at VicenzaOro1 said they were placing orders for white gold jewelry, some for the first time.

"Having been here, I've seen the most fabulous designs in silver and white gold, and for the first time I have placed orders in white gold," said Syeda Mogul, sales director for Sterling Mint, a United Kingdom-based direct mail order company that also markets in the United States. "I felt that I had to offer my customers the opportunity to select white gold."

"I did buy some white gold this year, which I think is a big trend," said Chris Hutt, a buyer with John Kreag, a sports marketing designer and manufacturer. "I also saw a lot of silver and two-tone earrings and designs."

Italian chain manufacturers, which account for more than 60% of chains sold in the United States, said that interest in white gold has extended to chains as well.

"White gold has always been a constant for us, but as demand for platinum is increasing, there is a wider variety of jewelry available in white gold," said Dario Baggio, U.S. area manager and managing director of Filk, a large chain producer based in Vicenza.

Buyers from the United States and around the globe went to the first of three annual jewelry shows here to find the newest designs and speak directly with Italian manufacturers. Italy is the world's largest producer of gold jewelry. Among other new designs and trends at the Vicenza show:

  • Pierced looks and cut-out designs and finishes.
  • Lighter and airier pieces, including mesh necklaces and bracelets.
  • Scalloped and curved necklaces and bracelets, reflecting an overall emphasis on more organic shapes rather than rigid designs.
  • Basic flower motifs, especially in earrings and pendants.
  • More emphasis on dimension, including three-dimensional rings and rope chains.
  • Messages written in or on bracelets and rings, including such sayings as Amour and Forever.
  • Huggable style hoop earrings, especially in white gold with diamond accents.
  • Reversible rings and bracelets that can be worn different ways.

    For chains, Baggio said that many American retailers that came to his booth were buying basic chain styles. Filk's recent chain collections are being manufactured with a new type of laser solder technology.

    A representative of Technigold, another large Italian machine-made chain manufacturer, said the company's most popular style with American buyers was a flat chain with designs as well as basic flexible and smooth chains.

    Many Italian manufacturers also said that American buyers are becoming more interested in quality and in buying jewelry that is well made.

    "Quality is definitely starting to become an issue for people from the U.S.," Baggio said. "Before, many buyers were just looking for a lower cost, but now they are starting to realize that the total quality of the piece is important."