2016 Jewelry Trends
In 2016, jewelry and accessories will take on the flavor of European cities from a time when travel was at the height of luxury. Looking at these pieces, it’s easy to imagine a journey on a train, making stops at some of the most iconic fashion cities… back before cultures melded into each other. Back when people’s dress was still a distinctive and unique indication of heritage and homeland.
It’s easy to be inspired by an international journey, to picture such a trip in the mind’s eye. Here is one story— an imaginary perspective of this grand voyage:
“The world is shrinking,” my granddaughter said as she watched the airplane overhead. It was just a dark speck in the sky, but the white trail it left behind was like a strange cloud that would have been alarming… were we not so accustomed to the sight.
The world really was shrinking. Faster every day, it seemed. European countries used to be so distinct, and their borders really meant something. There were language barriers and currency changes. Clothing was ornate and symbolic. Food was distinct and special—using the ingredients that only would grow in that particular region, where the climate and soil chemistry was different from any other place.
But today, we can buy grapes anywhere at any time of year. We no longer need to wait all year long for the grape season to arrive in our hometown because grapes are transported to us, driven through the night and weather, harvested before they’re ripe in order to survive the long journey… which suddenly doesn’t seem as long as it once had been.
The airplane flew out of sight, so she took my hand as we turned to go back inside. There was a fire in the fireplace; her mom had just made tea. These were old comforts. And as we sat, watching the flames lick at the bricks, I thought of my time on the Orient Express.
I was a bartender on the lounge car. Our route was from Paris to Istanbul, with many stops in between. It was a time when travel did not have the glamour it’s since developed. People only went places if they were searching for something like spices or new land to claim. Tourism really wasn’t something that people did. Well, our train aimed to change that.
This was a new era in travel. It was about enjoying the journey, not just anticipating the destination. There were luxury accommodations, crisp white bedsheets and gourmet cuisine that you might find in a five-star hotel. There was space to move from car to car, just as one would walk from one room into the next. People played cards, people smoked cigars, dressed in their finest, ironed shirts and dresses were paired with diamonds, because luxury of this caliber can only be afforded by the wealthy entrepreneurs or socialites from “old money”.
Crystals from the chandelier constantly tremored and chimed with the steady rocking of the wheels on the rails. And for every person who lost their footing with the train’s movement, there was another who lost it from one too many sips of liquor. And as I poured shot after shot, I heard the stories of those in search of an authentic experience.
They left the comfortable streets of well-lit cafés and bakeries to find new foods and faces. They were all hoping for an experience that they could hold onto forever—to tell their grandchildren someday. They left behind all the best poets, ballet dancers, and culinary visionaries of the world to watch over the city of light and romance in their absence.
One of my favorite stops was Budapest, Hungary—a city that I was fortunate to have explored many times during my employment with the Orient Express. Bohemia, once a geographic region, has taken new meaning as a lifestyle that has spread beyond its origins in the Czech Republic. The Bohemian spirit is a carefree one, with rich textures and jewel-toned colors. Tassels, fringe, embroidered floral patterns, velvet, beading, bells… it seems like anything goes in this city where the roofs of buildings are ornately decorated with colorful tiles. The passengers all deboard and wander the streets of this new city, returning with trinkets and jewelry to give to friends back home, or wear as a reminder of their brief stay here, before boarding once more and moving on to the next stop.
Istanbul—the end of the line. The last remaining passengers exit the train here, for extended stays or to catch a different train back north. The water is clear and blue and ancient mosques are decorated with pristine blue tiles. Ornate bronze spigots sit in low basins surrounding these mosques, for feet to be washed before entering the sacred space, and the call to prayer is like clockwork. Bazaars are filled with spices, gold jewelry and flat-woven rugs with traditional patterns, sprawling geometric shapes across the marble floor. The feeling is more precise than what passengers found in Hungary, but still eclectic and textured, with years of tradition behind it. Floral designs transform from round and robust to sharp and precise, symmetry and repetition.
Yes, most passengers depart here—to find their own way. For them, it’s the end of the tour until the long journey home. But for me, it’s just another cycle. What was once so shocking and new has become an expected pattern… but the passengers are always different and new and to watch them discover these places for the first time and seeing the small treasures that they bring aboard the train from their day out in each new city is a magical thing.
We no longer have a need for elegant train rides. Now, every household has a car per person and travel by plane has become commonplace. Television and the internet can transport us to any place we could ever dream to go, without any expense or hassle at all.
“It’s true,” I said, “the world is shrinking, indeed.” And I put my hand on her tiny shoulder as we watched the vapor trail fade to blue again.
It’s strange how, sometimes, an object can spark the imagination. Holding something tactile, or wearing a piece of jewelry can transport us to a different time and place, if we only allow our minds to stay calm and quiet enough to go there. Sensations are conjured by visual cues: a sparkle, a sway. Wearing the right necklace is an incredible feeling that has the power to nurture confidence and poise. It gives us the power to feel connected to eras and people long gone. Jewelry possesses the ability to live on and tell stories from the past.
Do you have a favorite accessory that you associate with a person or place? Tell us in the comments.