Year in review: watches & jewellery editor Hannah Silver picks her 10 top jewellery posts from 2021

Wallpaper’s Hannah Silver looks back and reveals her top 10 jewellery stories from 2021, from high jewellery design to alternative engagement rings and man-made diamonds

pearl and diamonds
Melanie Georgacopoulos’ pearl and diamond jewellery
(Image credit: press)

Discover the top 10 jewellery posts for 2021, as picked by Wallpaper* watches & jewellery editor Hannah Silver. From the works of emerging designers to high jewellery showstoppers, here are some of the year’s best jewellery stories (in no particular order).

Top 10 jewellery stories of the year

01. Man-made diamonds explained

diamond rings, part of best jewellery 2021 year in review

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As man-made diamonds become a popular choice for alternative engagement rings (opens in new tab), so the curiosity around them grows, with many unclear about what sets them apart from natural diamonds. There is no technical, physical, chemical or optical difference between a lab-grown diamond and a real diamond – the single difference is how they came into being.

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02. Cartier pays homage to its most iconic designs

cartier watches and jewellery, as part of jewellery 2021 round-up

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‘Our pieces are marked by a purity of line, a precision of form and precious details,’ says Arnaud Carrez, head of international marketing and communications, Cartier International, on the new campaign devoted to the maison’s iconic designs. ‘We wanted to celebrate them all together and show what they have in common.’ Cartier is shining the spotlight on classic collections from the last century, with the Santos, Tank, Trinity, Love, Juste Un Clou, Panthère and Ballon Bleu all celebrated as a lesson in lasting design.

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03. Hidden diamonds make for intimate engagement rings

gold rings, part of round-up of best jewellery 2021 year in review

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Alternative engagement rings (opens in new tab) are reduced down to essential silhouettes by Jenny Sweetnam, who has gone back to basics with her new collection, Inverse. The 2018 Wallpaper* Design Award winner has established herself as a contemporary jewellery designer who brings a freshness to traditional pieces, through a simple and innovative approach. The new collection builds on these foundations with sculptural designs in 18ct yellow gold that make discreet, intimate engagement tokens or even men’s engagement rings

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04. Traditional gold jewellery rethought by Laud

gold and diamond jewellery

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Awah, creative director of Laud, brings an offbeat sensibility to jewellery design. Established three years ago, the emerging jewellery brand intertwines a range of influences for pieces that play with geometry and rethink traditional motifs. The new collections, available at Dover Street Market and Browns, rethink symbolic motifs in yellow and white gold pieces inspired by both African art and Awah’s Ghanian heritage. The eternity ring and the signet ring, reconsidered through Awah’s lens, nod to the intricacies of stained glass, its patterns interpreted in irregularly placed speckles of diamonds.

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05. Melanie Georgacopoulos’ new jewellery casts pearls and diamonds in a fresh light

pearl and diamond bracelet, part of jewellery 2021 year in review

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After celebrating the ten-year anniversary of her eponymous brand in 2020, Melanie Georgacopoulos was keen to mark the milestone with a change of direction. Her new jewellery collection, titled Carats, is the first time she has worked with both natural pearls and diamonds. In a play on texture, Georgacopoulos unites the two materials, the hard diamonds appearing to sink into their soft cushions of mother-of-pearl. The effect is of spontaneity; the diamonds, seemingly just pressed in, follow the laws of gravity and force the jeweller to relinquish control. ‘The loss of control was a feeling I have had since Covid-19 started, and it was important for me to find a way to showcase it in my jewellery,’ Georgacopoulos says.

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06. Schiaparelli’s 2021 high jewellery collection launches at Paris Couture Week

woman holding gold baby and woman wearing with jewellery eyes, by Schiaparelli

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Artistic director Daniel Roseberry brings unadulterated joy to his third collection for Schiaparelli, for a mischievous take on the traditionally serious business of couture. His collection pays tribute to Elsa Schiaparelli’s experimental spirit and her Surrealist approach, which came to life through collaborations with Dali, Cocteau and Man Ray. Her influence is clear in the details: ‘One thing that a couture atelier can uniquely do is embellishments, and these pieces are dazzling examples of the art of embroidery and beading,’ says Roseberry. ‘I’ve always admired how Elsa embroidered pieces – in an era in which embroidery had a whispery, almost recessive quality, hers were barbaric and unapologetic.’

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07. Chaumet’s golden take on the cityscape

gold necklace by chaumet, part of jewellery 2021 year in review

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Chaumet marked its 240th anniversary in 2021 with a new collection that draws on a host of defining cultural references from the high jewellery house’s history. The ‘Perspectives de Chaumet Skyline’ necklace takes modern cityscapes as its inspiration, rewriting their clash of geometry in warm yellow gold that has been polished, openworked, engraved and hammered. ‘The work of gold on this piece is a tribute to the 1960s and 1970s, from the time of Pierre Sterlé and René Morin,’ says Chaumet CEO Jean-Marc Mansvelt. A serrated silhouette gives an illusion of chaos, a nod to deconstructivism; Mansvelt points to Irving Penn’s Collapse and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater as direct inspirations.

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08. The sensual jewellery design of Hugo Kreit

woman wearing red earrings

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‘My jewellery is fun and glamorous, but there’s also something disturbing when you come into contact with the pieces,’ says French jeweller Hugo Kreit. ‘The shapes are in movement, the textures and finishes are dripping. I like to surprise, I look for the appeal in the subversive and the weird.’ Trained in industrial design, Kreit worked in the fashion show production industry for HermèsDior, Jacquemus and others before turning to jewellery design: ‘Both experiences showed me the incredible power of fashion shows, the art of fashion storytelling through collective performances, image crafting and dream making,’ he says.

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09. 10 jewellery designers rethink the classic engagement ring for De Beers

ten engagement rings by De Beers, part of jewellery 2021 year in review

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De Beers has partnered with ten jewellery designers for the launch of ‘Ten/Ten’, a limited-edition collection of 100 alternative engagement rings (opens in new tab). Each jeweller created one accessibly priced design, reinterpreting the traditional codes of an engagement ring and centring their designs round ethically-sourced diamonds from Botswana. ‘The inspiration for Ten/Ten was really driven by a combination of things,’ says Stephen Lussier, De Beers executive vice president of consumer markets. ‘We wanted to support the people of Botswana whose economy is dependent on diamond revenues, to allow more people to discover the incredible creativity of ten independent designers and to offer something really special to couples hoping to get engaged this year.’

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10. NFT jewellery: is blockchain bling a thing?

blockchain rings featured as part of jewellery 2021 year in review

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Jewellery designer Simone Faurschou unveiled her new fine jewellery as a digital collection of NFT pieces before the physical launch. The collection, Blockchain, composed of solid white and yellow gold blocks with man-made diamonds, explores the ways we connect with technology – and how technology connects with us. After a year in which technology has both connected and isolated us, it is a timely analysis.

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Hannah Silver joined Wallpaper* in 2019 to work on watches and jewellery. Now, as well as her role as watches and jewellery editor, she writes widely across all areas including on art, architecture, fashion and design. As well as offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, Hannah is interested in the quirks of what makes for a digital success story.