Best of the Best 2013: Jewelry: Use of Metal: Lugano Diamonds

The shock effect of setting precious stones in industrial materials, such as titanium and copper, has long been a thing of the past. But in 2012, Lugano Diamonds achieved a similar element of surprise by making creative use of a metal unknown heretofore in fine jewelry: zirconium. The jeweler, based in Newport Beach, Calif., fashioned an alloy produced with zircon into a series of striking pieces set with diamonds, including this orchid ring and these butterfly earrings. “They’re conversation pieces,” says Moti Ferder, the president and design director of Lugano; and indeed, the collection caused a stir throughout the industry when it was unveiled. The dark sheen of the metal highlights the stones, and the metal’s lightness and durability allow for voluminous, sculptural shapes that, we suspect, represent only the beginning of Lugano’s experimentation. (949.720.1258, www.luganodiamonds.com)