In jewelry, color is usually expressed in gems or enamel, which can be too heavy and fragile,” says New York designer Kara Ross, who spent more than a year experimenting with titanium for her latest collection. “Titanium is strong, yet simplistic in its appearance.” Ross exposes the lightweight and durable material to electrical charges to alter its color, then sculpts it into bold cuffs that she layers with gold, rubies, sapphires, and diamonds.
For her striking black designs, Ross employs jet instead of the more commonly used ebony and onyx. The dense, dark material is produced midway during the natural process that transforms wood into coal. It was used widely in England following the death in 1861 of Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, to create what was known as “mourning jewelry.” Ross contrasts the matte black jet, which is mined in Russia and England and cut by Italian craftsmen, with cabochon gemstones that look like colorful pieces of candy.