In praise of the extraordinary: our pick of the 2017 high jewellery collections
Buccellati, the Milanese jewellery house, is renowned for its intricate goldsmithing techniques, which are used to create delicate fabric-like forms evoking tulle or silk, from engraved metal. These were updated for the house’s latest high jewellery collection. We’ve got the soft touch for this swirling honeycomb effect bracelet, designed using a Renaissance openwork technique. In a striking combination, the bracelet is crafted from vivid yellow gold, set with diamonds. Brighter still are the house’s sunset-like cocktail earrings, an example of its current experimentation with vivid tones. Its vibrant yellow diamonds and rubies are contrasted against rows of white diamonds, evoking rays of bright light and shadow.
In May, Anna Hu became the first modern high jewellery brand to host a solo exhibition at Christie’s in London. The exhibition, featuring pieces hand-selected by David Warren, Senior International Jewellery Director at the auction house, nodded to the New York-based Taiwanese designer’s naturalism, whimsy and celebration of colour - the signatures of a brand which turns ten this year. Much to our delight, the pieces travelled to Paris during couture week, and were showcased at the Ritz. They nod to a variety of references, from the Impressionist aesthetic of Van Gogh and Monet, to spirituality and the natural world. We were struck by Hu’s ‘Myth of Orchid’ earrings, their gently curving titanium petals encrusted with round brilliant cut diamonds. Striking too was her Eastern inspired ‘Snake Ying Yang Bangle’ featuring two curving serpents encrusted with rubies, diamonds and sapphires, and clutching the symbol of harmony and balance in their jaws. Animals are often encountered in the collection, Hu nodding to birds, butterflies and dragonflies in the prismatic pieces, which will travel to Asia at the end of the year.
Boucheron’s latest high jewellery collection ’Hiver Impérial’ took inspiration from the snow covered plains of the Far East. It’s a territory which is close to the house’s heart- when Boucheron opened its first Moscow boutique in 1897, it was the first French jeweller in the city. ‘Lumière de Nuit’ celebrates the brilliant polar landscape of the region, ‘Femmes Boréales’ its pearl clad queens and ‘L’Anneau d’Or’ offers a panoramic sweep of the splendid architecture of Russia’s ancient and regal towns. A nod to traditional dress, the ’Baïkal’ bodice from the house’s ‘Femmes Boréales’ offering has us craving for a cold snap. Its front is finished with more that 2000 Akoya pearls, and its many strands, strung on silk thread, are connected with aquamarines, moonstones and diamond slivers. At its centre, a 78.33 ct Santa Maria aquamarine evokes the clear and icy waters of untarnished polar plains.
Chaumet looked to four renowned musical venues as inspiration behind its latest high jewellery collection: Glyndebourne in East Sussex, England, La Scala in Milan, New York’s Metropolitan Opera and the Vienna Opera. In the ‘Pastorale Anglaise’ collection, sparkling emeralds evoked the verdant open air setting of the British opera venue, which began hosting an annual performance in 1934. A necklace with a Scottish bow knot nodded both to the signature bow motif of the Parisian house and the British legacy of the location. The piece was inspired by a 1907 archive tartan pattern, and features a detachable 29 ct Muzo emerald pendant. A softer pastel palette was seen in the pieces of the Metropolitan inspired ‘Rhapsodie Transatlantique’ collection. A pair of flame-shaped earrings with asymmetric coloured stones and umba garnets evoked the trailing embers of fireworks and the hues of an Indian Summer in Manhattan. Throughout, diamonds were set with a champagne setting, to highlight the spontaneous and effervescent atmosphere of an Upper West Side evening out at the opera.
New York-based designer David Yurman’s latest high jewellery collection, presented at the Ritz during Paris couture week, acted as an evolution and enhancement of his aesthetic tropes. The ‘Stax’ collection featured a combination of thin or pavé set chains, a design Yurman has worked with since his work as a sculptor in the sixties, his signature cable twists, and newly developed bands of faceted metal. These different strands were layered together as hoop earrings, multi banded bracelets and necklaces. Yurman’s ‘Gems’ collection featured sparkling peridots and tassels of beaded red spinels, while his ‘Pearls’ offering celebrated his use of the stone since the eighties. We made a real leap for his ‘Night Petals’ pieces. Inspired by the frogs that used to sing in the pond of his garden in New York’s Putnam Valley, this necklace and bracelet are constructed from abstract lily pad shapes. His ‘Night Petals Necklace’ is crafted from black rhodium plated white gold, and is a nod to the nighttime singsongs of Yurman’s amphibious neighbours. Set with diamonds, each water lily shape glitters just like stars in the night sky.
Putting down roots
Victoire de Castellane returned to the ostentatious Château de Versailles for the inspiration for her latest high jewellery collection for Dior Joaillerie. She looked not to its ornamental interiors (a previous influence), but its verdant surrounding jardins. Its 800 hectares were landscaped by André Le Nôtre, in the architectural French Garden style, and in the ‘Versailles, act II’ collection, Castellane celebrated the dichotomy between the garden’s geometric layout and bright abundant blooms. In a presentation space cascading with roses, intricate pieces were displayed. Trailing blooms, wanton undergrowth, fountains and sandy walkways were recreated with ornamental coloured jewels. Plumes of water were imagined using sapphires, sculpted amazonite and opal. A pair of non identical earrings, glittering with emeralds, sapphires and jewelled roses recalled the garden’s Bosquet de la Reine, while necklaces, watches, rings and bracelets were designed to trail wildly around the body.
A bigger splash
Giampiero Bodino’s largest high jewellery offering to date- a bold twenty piece collection, is inspired by the exuberant hues of the Mediterranean. Making waves is this ‘Tesori Del Mare’, ring, inspired by the rippling waves of the sea. The oversized design, featuring Paraiba tourmalines, blue and yellow sapphires, tsavorites and rock crystal evokes the frothy and sun reflecting tones of the ocean. Throughout the collection, the Italian jeweller looked to a verdant spectrum of natural inspiration, from blooming Bougainvillea’s, pearl encrusted shells and sea creatures, to the hues of a summer day. In ‘Corona’ the Bodino was inspired by Sicilian majolica, a colourful genre of pottery from the Renaissance period. The intertwining and complex patterns of these earrings, featuring bright sapphires, fire opals and emeralds, recall the details and bright colours of pottery from the period.
The life cycle of the lotus flower formed the inspiration behind De Beers most recent high jewellery collection. When coming into the bloom, the flower emerges from soil through water, a transformation which is an aesthetic touchpoint for the house- a renowned specialist in both polished and rough diamonds. The collection chronologically charts the flower’s lifecycle, from its ‘Blooming Lotus’ stage, evoked in pieces with gently unfurling petal motifs adorned with diamonds, to the ‘Flourishing Lotus’, showcasing perfectly symmetrical pieces that represent petals opening in the midday sun. Held at De Beers’ salon, the house’s display evoked these different timeframes, one adorned with greenery and backdrops of wave-like undulating shapes, . An emblem of the lotus’ lifestyle and the aesthetic of De Beers, the final ‘Soothing Lotus’ collection represents the flower at dusk, and features both rough and polished diamonds, set to represent lily pads and lotus buds drenched in evening light.
Riddle me this
Van Cleef & Arpels is a maison associated with secrets and wonder- the house is renowned for its patent of the Mystery Set technique- a process developed in 1933 that allows precious stones to be set without any visible mounting. For its latest high jewellery collection, Van Cleef & Arpels honed in on the concept of hidden elements, with a collection inspired by the whispers of lovers and carefully concealed secrets, culminated in pieces with hidden surprises, motifs and written messages. We’re finding new meaning in the Parisian house’s ‘Labyrinthine’ Ring. An emblem of secrecy, its graphic, maze-like motif is crafted in gold and diamonds and concealing onyx, and features a 13.01 ct fancy intense yellow diamond at its centre. Enchanting too is the ‘Papillon Secret Watch’, the design’s butterfly inspired strap, encrusted with diamonds, emeralds, black spinels and onyx, concealing a mother-of-pearl dial which can be delicately revealed with the fingertips.