Ring in the new

Bold or understated, napkin rings make the place setting -- like jewelry for the table.

Home & Garden


Ring it up. The hottest fashion accessory for the holidays may be worn by your dinner napkins.

Napkins never looked so stylish, dressed up with rings that sate myriad tastes. On the Neiman Marcus Web site alone there are 27 different ring styles from which to choose, and just about every retailer from Target to Crate and Barrel is stocking these baubles of metal, crystal, beaded glass, horn, feathers, velvet, paper and even rattan.

From skinny bands to wide cuffs that look like wrist bangles, napkin rings can be bold or understated. Many resemble stylish earrings, sparkling rings or sassy bracelets, so you might consider them jewelry for the table.

Handbag diva Kate Spade has added sleek napkin rings to her tabletop attire. Fashion designer Vera Wang has translated the look of grosgrain ribbon to her silver rings. And former jewelry designer Jay Strongwater, now known for exquisite picture frames, boxes and gift items crafted from enamel and dotted with Swarovski crystals, has expanded his line with magnificent napkin rings.

Just why napkin rings have taken off in recent years is not really a mystery.

"It comes down to personalizing the table," says Rebecca Thuss, style director for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. "Napkin rings can be a simple way to embellish a table setting. And it speaks so much to the fusion of home and fashion."

With a wide range of price tags from less than $1 to $175 apiece, there are plenty of options. And clearly it's easier to change napkin rings than china to update a table setting.

At Vietri, an importer of Italian handcrafted tableware, designers have adapted their colorful glass holiday ornaments to cradle napkins at the table.

"We always show our ornaments as napkin rings or place card holders," says Cara Fratto of Vietri. "When you set the Christmas table with ornaments, they can be takeaway gifts." Guests then can remember the occasion and their friends as they hang the ornaments on their trees or from a chandelier.

Another manufacturer, Chilewich, produces mesh napkin rings to coordinate with similar placemats.

More fanciful are magnolias found at Horchow. Six inches in diameter, the red or yellow blooms are fabricated of paper in stripes or polka dots to add instant pizzazz to the table. Rusty-toned feathers also are the focal point of some rings.

Elaine Markoutsas writes about home decor for Universal Press Syndicate.

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