Luxury Jewelry: Wood and diamonds aren't the likeliest of bedfellows.

But there is something so chicly casual about pairing diamonds, with something relatively inexpensive like wood, remarks John de Jong, a Toronto and Geneva-based jewelry designer who is among those embracing wood.

Tiffany & Co.'s 2008-2009 Blue Book collection features a cocobolo cuff inlaid with white gold bamboo rods and diamond leaves. New York designer Kara Ross offers overscale ebony links and a chunky geometric maple ring with intersecting bands of gold and diamonds. And Antonia Miletto of Venice and New York has diamond-studded ebony collars and cuffs, and ebony carved crocodile earrings.

De Jong's latest collection includes rings in Sri Lankan ebony, the redder cocobolo wood from Central America, and amaranth, a Central and South American wood which can vary from rich brown to dark purple. Amaranth is also known by the name purple heart.

De Jong has also used ebony and cocobolo for cuffs, which can also be ordered in amaranth.

All styles feature a yellow or white gold sevilla motif, and some have diamonds.

In the '80s Boucheron did a collection of wood applied with precious stones and I was really inspired by that, de Jong says.

The use of wood is timely on a number of counts. From an economic standpoint, wood is much more affordable than gold. Designers and consumers are both more open to a diversity of materials. And wood designs can be oversized in keeping with the statement jewelry trend.

All three woods that I have used are very light and feel beautiful, very soft to the skin, de Jong ensures. The cocobolo in particular has a silky feel with absolutely no grain.

But these woods are also extremely hard and dense, de Jong adds. That means you can get very smooth lines, and carve them into very precise shapes. They also have a nice lustre and are extremely durable.

Bernadette Morra