The odd couple: Chanel and Pomellato play with asymmetry in jewellery

Two jewellery houses, Chanel and Pomellato, take a new turn, toying with asymmetry to create organically opulent pieces

woman wearing gold bracelets and earring by Chanel and Pomellato
Tweed Lion’ earrings; brooch, both price on request, by Chanel, ‘Dama’ bracelets, price on request, by Pomellato, Bodysuit, £239, by Wolford, Creative direction: Caragh McKay Fashion director: Jason Hughes Model: Antavenus Mille at Sport-Models Grooming: Cicci Svahn at Calliste Agency Photography assistant: Quentin Ducros
(Image credit: Philippe Lacombe)

In a bid to spotlight the rare gemstones that give high jewellery pieces their star appeal, the designer’s job can become something of an architectural pursuit. Whether a ring, bracelet or necklace, the intricate gold frameworks in which the weighty stones are set must be designed on varying levels to accommodate their volume, which gives this specialist field of jewellery design the baroque character that sets it far apart from everyday fine gold and silver pieces.

This year, however, two jewellery houses played with symmetry and white space to achieve a less voluminous, more contemporary look. 

Chanel’s modernist feel

Patrice Leguéreau, director of Chanel’s Fine Jewellery Creation Studio, took inspiration from heritage fabric for the brand’s latest collection, Tweed de Chanel. ‘We wanted the jewellery to feel as if you are being draped with a piece of cloth, so the craftspeople in our workshops were tasked with reproducing its flexibility and fluidity using metal and precious stones. You can’t imagine the ingenuity they deployed to achieve that.’

The ‘Tweed Lion’ suite has a distinctly modernist feel – the modular brooch can also be worn on a chain, while the earrings are asymmetrical. The right earring is a smaller, airier, less jewelled version of the brooch. And while the long, dangling left earring could easily have been a straight, criss-cross graphic, its reflection of the natural yarn adds a mischievous tension.

Pomellato’s pop-art sensibility

Meanwhile, Vincenzo Castaldo, creative director of Milanese brand Pomellato, took a suitably pop art approach to the house’s heritage codes with the ‘Dama’ bracelets, a standout design from its ‘Ode to Milan’ collection. The swirls of gold replicate the sensual round-flat form of Pomellato’s classic gourmette link, created in the late 1960s by the brand’s founder Pino Rabolini, a goldsmith inspired by the casual, ready-to-wear pop art sensibility of Pierre Cardin.

As Castaldo points out, ‘Asymmetry and irregular shapes have always been part of Pomellato’s language. And, because the “Dama” bracelets are magnified versions of our gourmette link, they’re crafted in a non-symmetrical pattern that allows for a natural fit on both the right and left wrist. The strength and sensuality of the “Dama” design – the volume, the perfection of the shiny surface and the opulence of the gold – are, in a way, a celebration of our roots.’

The bracelets also recall the post-modern sensibilities of Italian architect Paolo Portoghesi. Sumptuous and linear at the same time, the swirls of diamonds add a touch of the baroque, after all.,

This article appears in the November 2023 issue of Wallpaper*, available in print, on the Wallpaper* app on Apple iOS, and to subscribers of Apple News +. Subscribe to Wallpaper* today

Caragh McKay is a contributing editor at Wallpaper* and was watches & jewellery director at the magazine between 2011 and 2019. Caragh’s current remit is cross-cultural and her recent stories include the curious tale of how Muhammad Ali met his poetic match in Robert Burns and how a Martin Scorsese Martin film revived a forgotten Osage art.