Diamonds forever for Karen Walker

RACHEL WATTIE
Last updated 05:00 17/10/2012
Karen Walker
BLING THING: Karen Walker says there's "something pretty special" about diamonds.

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Designer Karen Walker doesn't keep her new $22,000 pansy ring for special occasions and is showing off the glistening piece with jeans, loafers and a T-shirt. The ring, among the blingier in her new range, is one of the styles from the Karen Walker Diamond collection, to launch in selected New Zealand stores later this month.

The luxury jewellery range was created to meet customer demand, and because the internationally acclaimed designer is a fan of diamonds.

"Who isn't?", she says, showing off the triple pansy diamond, her favourite piece in the range. "There's something of the exhibitionist in me at times. It's those blingy, look at me, very sparkly pieces that I get drawn to."

The modern approach to jewellery is to do what the 42-year-old has been doing with the pansy ring - enjoy it, don't stash it away.

"Our approach to fine jewellery has always been that it's not for special occasions. It's fine jewellery for every day."

Auckland-based Walker has always had diamonds in the fine jewellery range. However, she says that retail customers in stores and key jewellery store partners have been asking for more diamond-specific pieces.

"Over the years we've had many Karen Walker Jewellery fans pick out a ring from our existing collection to have as their engagement ring and we're thrilled to be able to create a new line that focuses on this idea," she says.

"There's something pretty special about diamonds. Nothing else does it."

The range includes 26 pieces, ranging from about $1900 for a small single diamond ring to $47,000 for a princess-cut diamond solitaire ring with a bezel setting. And the styles range from delicate, pretty and feminine, to the blingy.

Including diamonds sourced from Canada and Australia, the rings are based on three stories: a modern take on the traditional solitaires; the smaller, intricate and detailed posies of wild wax flowers; and the bigger, look-at-me pansies. Every six months, she plans to come up with a new story.

Walker uses a floral theme throughout the range to juxtapose with the hardness of the stone, and create a more delicate look.

"The diamonds and the metal are such solid materials, and even though the diamond, the way it catches the light makes it appear delicate, it is actually quite a masculine, hard material . . . How do you take that and combine it with something that's completely opposite and so that's one of the reasons we took the botanical element as a starting point.

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"To get that kind of feel with a material that's not that requires some level of craftmanship and consideration, so that was really the starting point."

Continuing the daisy iconography seen in her jewellery, filigree sunglasses and beachwear, a daisy-shaped cut-out on the side of the solitaire style rings is designed to penetrate the setting and give the gem the sparkly quality it is famous for. Usually with solitaire-style rings the stone is held in four claws at the side. This lets the light through and bounce off the facets, making the gem sparkle.

"We wanted it to be in a much more minimal setting, just more modern I guess, but we still wanted to be able to have the light bouncing through it, so that's why we introduced, with the solitaires, having the daisy cut away in both sides."

Each ring is available in yellow gold (9 carat, 14 carat and 18 carat); white gold; platinum and palladium and the customer can pick the quality of the diamond based on clarity and colour.

The collection is primarily for Australasia, and Walker plans to launch it in Australia at the beginning of next year. "And then we'll think about beyond that later next year."

Walker is now focusing on the northern hemisphere's winter 2013 collection which she will show in New York in February. She'll start thinking about the next jewellery range around January.

- Wellington

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