Bright gemstones lighten up jewelry this season

After the deep and ashen color palette of fall clothing, a surge of hard-candy hues is exploding into holiday jewelry. It's bright, brilliant and dripping with fun and a sense of possibility.

Bracelet price: In Sunday's Image section, a caption in a photo layout on jewelry of the season gave the price of a blue Ann Taylor bracelet as $10. It is $50. —

The trend isn't just about strong colors -- what's striking is the unexpected mix of shades. A vibrant green peridot meets a smattering of pavé pink sapphires on a Suzanne Felsen cocktail ring. A 25-carat pink tourmaline shines like a berry-bright flashlight from the center of a Martin Katz ring. And mandarin garnets and yellow sapphires glow in Van Cleef & Arpels' Mandarin collection, which echoes the orange that was all over the spring runways.

Of course, that 25-carat ring and those other oh-so-eye-popping pieces have price tags with as many zeros as there are facets on the stones. We don't know too many people who are actually going to line up for a $34,000 bauble. But the intense Jolly Rancher palette of the high-end fantasy gems is informing accessories at all other price points. Whether you can manage $30,000 or just $30, the trend is color, color, color. "People want something different and refreshing," says jewelry designer Felsen about the season's bright gems. "You see color in clothes and architecture all the time. Colorful jewelry is an evolution of that."

Freedom by Topshop plays out the newest combinations in a variety of fun accessories that marry orange, blue, pink and green all in one necklace or ring. H&M takes the fantasy one step further, putting color on flowers and bugs entwined on a twist of chains. And a large blue "stone" on a $2.90 cocktail ring may not have the luster of the real thing, but it's a bright alternative for tapping into the spirit of the season.

You can also let an uplifting mix of colors spill into clothing and makeup. Throw a vivid fuchsia cashmere scarf over a black sweater or sweep a thin line of electric blue eyeliner across your lid for a festive New Year's look. The idea is to get playful, push the limits of the color you wear and experiment with how you wear it. Let a shock, even a jumble, of color -- on a gem-toned dress that will carry you from the holidays right through spring, or on actual gems, fine or faux -- add some optimism and cheer. That's something we'll all need in the new year.

Magsaysay is a Times staff writer.