Vineyard jewelers talk trends in jewelry

Partners Cheryl Stark, left, and Margery Meltzer celebrating the 45th anniversary of their store in 2011. — Ralph Stewart

Trends come and go, but do we as an Island keep up with them or even acknowledge them, especially in the area of jewelry art?

“I tell my customers if a piece of jewelry doesn’t look great on them I won’t let them buy it. Not every piece looks good on everyone,” says jewelry designer Ronni Simon of the Simon Gallery in Vineyard Haven.

The subject is trends in jewelry design, and Ms. Simon, whose clustered beads and stones form her unique crocheted signature pieces, has some definite thoughts on the subject: “My philosophy is women should make their own trends…I think that the jewelry shouldn’t define you, rather you should define the jewelry.” She says, “Jewelry should make you feel comfortable and beautiful, which is such a personal thing that shouldn’t be chosen just because of a trend. So I have to say I don’t necessarily subscribe to trends, I just have to be true to myself.”

Supporting the importance of individuality, Sioux Eagle, of Sioux Eagle Designs in Vineyard Haven, says, “I think that a lot of times a trend seems almost an arbitrary thing that the fashion industry has decided. You may go to a show and think the jewelry looks refreshing, then you will see it done by several different people and it’s like a switch has gone off to make everything look the same.” A jeweler for close to 30 years, Ms. Eagle adds, “Somebody is setting the trend, but it comes and goes so quickly.”

Cheryl Stark, of CB Stark Jewelers in Vineyard Haven, founded in 1966, has seen a lot of trends come and go. She notes of the current trend for fashion jewelry as well as the return of the styles of the ’60s and ’70s — a sort of retro look that includes anklets. Ms. Stark says, “Anklets are making a comeback and one of our biggest sellers, next to CB original designs, is the Vineyard Charm Beads, which fit not only our own bracelet but also that of the hugely trendy Pandora and Troll lines.” She adds, “Mixed metal jewelry has also become the look, in part to the high cost of gold now…I have pieces in the back that I never finished that are all two-toned, as it is something that I have always enjoyed doing. It has become a big trend now, though you can trace it back to watches becoming two-toned and people wanting jewelry to match that.”

After saying, “I won’t buy things that are a trend but instead I buy what appeals to me,” Ms. Eagle mentions the popularity of the wrap bracelet. “Everyone wants a new thing,” she says, “but if it is a classic piece, it is something that is always wanted.”

She continues, “I will say that the one trend that did become a little more popular last summer was layering things like necklaces, as it has always appealed to me. It is something that I do myself. So in that sense I might keep my eye out to designing something that can work within another theme.”

“I think some things are very serendipitous,” Ms. Simon says. “When I design, I really don’t look at any of the fashion magazines or forecasts for fashion and color. I just design based on the way it feels and adjust my work until it works for me, even if it is moving a stone an eighth of an inch. So really there is no rhyme or reason, I design asymmetrically symmetrical in that there is symmetry to it but it has its own life.”

Just as other fine artists do, each of these accomplished jewelers works to express herself according to her own aesthetic. Ms. Eagle favors beautifully colored stones in her earrings and necklaces. She says, “I think that what counts is the materials, and if it is handmade.”

Sarah York, manager of CB Stark jewelers, says, “Our charm bracelets were popular even when charm bracelets weren’t popular. Now that they are popular again, you see Tiffany’s and other large jewelers bringing them back…but we have been carrying them since the ’60s.”

Ms. Stark, the first jeweler on the Island, elaborates, “We still have the Island Charm, the Island Sign, and the Bunch of Grapes that I started in the 60s.”

Culturally, many things have changed, and Ms. Simon says, “I think that fashion is much less rigid than it was when I was young — such things as your skirt length, etc. used to be dictated. Now fashion is so much looser. But I think a lot of these trends come from fashion magazines having to come up with them to sell their magazines.”

And she offers a bit of advice that will not go out of style: “Educate yourself and find what works for you, but don’t buy something just because it is in.”

To see examples of the work of the jewelers included in this story, visit:,, and