by Barbara van Look, Content Development Group, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

After decades of looking westward, the fashion world is turning east for inspiration as a variety of Asian cultures influence jewelry and accessory trends for Winter 2011-2012 and Spring 2012.

Jewelry and component designers such as Thomas Sabo are highlighting pendants, charms, beads and drops with Asian themes. To tap into this style, incorporate pandas, fans, pagodas, Chinese and Japanese characters, dragons and a mix of Eastern flowers: the poppy, lotus and cherry blossom. Cloisonné beads are the quintessential product of the intricate work of Eastern cultures and have influenced the designs of Mary Katrantzou for Fall/Winter. The intense colors, traditional themes and motifs, bright metal finish and fine detail reflect the artistry with which they are created. Like the bonsai, they are exquisite works of art in miniature form.

Necklaces can be long or short. Color, shape, pattern and surface treatment are the heart of this style. Short necklaces use bold centerpieces of a minimalist Japanese aesthetic, mingling neutrals with a strong color. Long necklaces display beads in smooth glossy black, carved jade green and opaque matte red like cinnabar, as seen in the latest by Ralph Lauren.

Giorgio Armani's Privé collection showcases some of the strongest use of Eastern inspiration: bold cocktail bracelets in blackened metal with wide-to-narrow brushstroke-style wirework, large floral poppy-like flower earrings with briolette cascades and a liberal use of Mandarin orange with black.

Hairpieces and hair jewelry showcase traditional Japanese elements such as cascading flowers, high buns and the eternal chopstick. The high bun is often considered a severe hairstyle in the West, yet the floral embellishments add a feminine element to the style. Chopsticks used for the hair this season are usually glossy, with a smooth lacquered look and cloisonné beads or tassels dangling from the ends. Mix Eastern and Western influences as fashion designer Ashley Isham did--or opt for the more traditional presentation seen in Giorgio Armani's Privé haute couture collection.

More traditionally Western, are fascinators and headbands decorated with swallows, as seen in Sonia Rykiel's Fall/Winter collection. Even these reveal their Eastern influences as the swallow is a symbol of happiness and good luck in Chinese culture. (Check out the designers' respective Winter 2011-2012 and Spring 2012 presentations to capture those looks for yourself.)

Ornamented clothing is making a comeback as well: cuffs, collars and fabric embellished with colorful silk thread, bullion, sequins and seed beads. Common motifs include the Eastern dragon, phoenix, bonsai trees and a veritable garden of flower patterns as seen in Ralph Lauren's and Givenchy's collections for the season.
Even the feet are not exempt from the influence of Japanese, Chinese, Korean and other Asian cultures. Footwear guru Manolo Blahnik's shoes for Mimi Plange's latest collection showcase beaded Oriental poppies as well as tasseled and obi-style ties.

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Customer Comments

We would like to share some of the customer comments we received in response to the article, "Style Snapshot: Asian Influences on Winter and Spring 2012 Jewelry Trends," featured in the a newsletter. Please keep in mind that the comments expressed below are those of our customers and do not reflect the views of Fire Mountain Gems and Beads.

"The article about Eastern influence was informative and it was like taking a class. Thanks and please keep them coming."
- Terry

"Very nice!"
- Abi

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