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Even as the twice-yearly haute couture fashion presentations in Paris garner the lion’s share of headlines and starry front rows, the rarefied world of high jewelry also offers up plenty of high-wattage moments, though on a decidedly more private scale. At last week’s haute joaillerie showings, there was no shortage of moneyed clients reserving the one-of-a-kind jewels that represent the ne plus ultra of a luxury house’s artistry and handcraftsmanship.
How healthy is the high-jewelry category? Consider that in the first week of July, three legendary brands were showcasing not only their new collections, but also sparkling new Paris boutiques, with one of them debuting high jewelry for the first time. And if construction in the city’s tony 1st arrondissement — the neighborhood where you’ll find the Ritz Paris and the Louvre — is any indication, more luxe boutiques are set to open before year’s end. With a little more than two months until the Emmy Awards on Sept. 17, it’s a sure bet that many of these just-debuted pieces will be sought for the upcoming awards season. With that in mind, here’s a look at some of the most stunning pieces from the high-jewelry presentations.
The epicenter of high jewelry in Paris is Place Vendome, the legendary square where jewelers have been showcasing their craft as early as 1812; today it’s dotted with boutiques that include Boucheron, Van Cleef & Arpels, Mikimoto and Dior, while Cartier, Piaget and others can be found on the adjacent rue de la Paix. Gucci is the latest to land in this prestigious location, opening an intimate shop at No. 16 Place Vendome as a showcase for both fine jewelry and its first high-jewelry collection — dubbed “Hortus Deliciarum,” Latin for “Garden of Delights” — which debuted in conjunction with the boutique’s opening.
Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele is also overseeing the high-jewelry collection, employing the animal motifs seen throughout his designs, with lions, serpents and tigers taking center stage here. A grouping of lion’s head rings feature gemstones clenched within the animal’s jaws, such as the Paraiba tourmaline seen here, surrounded by a mane rendered in white diamonds set in 18-karat white gold. gucci.com
Impressive stones are a hallmark of high-jewelry collections, and among the most dazzling was the centerpiece of this necklace at Graff, a 58-carat, emerald-cut Royal Blue sapphire — with its depth of color and vivid hue, a Royal Blue is considered the rarest of this gemstone — surrounded by white diamonds in a variety of cuts totaling 60 carats, all set in 18-karat white gold. graff.com
The New York-based designer has always embraced asymmetry as a signature of her aesthetic, and that’s evident in her “Harmony” high-jewelry collection, which includes this ear cuff of 18-karat white gold richly embellished with diamonds, including briolettes that drip from its curves. anakhouri.com
Among Mikimoto’s “Mysterious Garden” high-jewelry collection, which references motifs that include florals, garden gates and trellises, one suite explores the delicate grace of olive trees, seen in these asymmetric earrings that feature black South Sea cultured pearls, peridot, tourmalines, emeralds, garnets and diamonds set in 18-karat white gold. mikimoto.com
Van Cleef & Arpels
With Benjamin Millepied choreographing a new interpretation of Romeo and Juliet for the L.A. Dance Project — set to debut July 16 at the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic — Van Cleef & Arpels decided Shakespeare’s tragic romance also was ripe for a high-jewelry interpretation.
The result is a 100-piece collection that includes ideas both literal — a brooch that depicts Juliet’s balcony, the vines cascading from it rendered in emeralds and diamonds — and abstract, such as this cuff featuring two pear-shaped aquamarines totaling 101.37 carats, accented with emeralds, sapphires, black spinels and diamonds, all set in 18-karat white gold. The blue of the primary stones is meant to evoke the fountains of Verona, while diamonds set beneath the aquamarines represent the lovers’ secret wedding vows. vancleefarpels.com
Always a deep well of inspiration, Coco Chanel’s life once again informs the house’s latest high-jewelry collection. The Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, who became Chanel’s lover after meeting the designer in Paris in the 1920s, inspires “La Paris Russe de Chanel,” which features a variety of Russian influences. Pieces highlighting colorful stones are meant to evoke thoughts of the beading and embroidery house founded by Pavlovich’s sister, Marie, who indeed provided handwork for Chanel’s designs. This “Sarafane” necklace, meanwhile, crafted in diamonds and pearls and set in 18-karat white gold, doubles as a headpiece. chanel.com
The iconic French house is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its high-jewelry designs by showcasing the brilliant hues of stones in its “Gem Dior” collection. The roughly 100 pieces conceptualized by Dior Joaillerie creative director Victoire de Castellane highlight both monochromatic and discordant color themes in diamonds, rubies, emeralds, Paraiba tourmalines and other stones, all in different cuts and fashioned in mosaic-like settings. Asymmetrical earrings, chokers and double- and triple-finger rings are key to the collection; the latter is seen here in 18-karat white gold, embellished with diamonds, sapphires, Paraiba tourmalines and emeralds. dior.com
Medieval warriors are the focus of Louis Vuitton’s “Riders of the Knight” high-jewelry collection, with medallions and armor influencing pieces meant for powerful women. The Royaume choker takes its cue from a gorget, a metal neckpiece designed to protect the throat; its centerpiece is a 19.31-carat Royal Blue sapphire surrounded by more than 1,600 diamonds and sapphires set in 18-karat white gold. Francesca Amfitheatrof, Louis Vuitton’s artistic director of jewelry and watches, crafted the highly articulated piece so it would sit comfortably on the neck. louisvuitton.com
The diamond house’s “Portraits of Nature” high-jewelry collection is inspired by elements ranging from monarch butterfly wings, which form open-front rings, to the pink of flamingo feathers, interpreted in ombré patterns of pink diamonds. But De Beers also employed its signature use of rough and polished fancy colored diamonds to create pieces meant to evoke the changing hues of a chameleon: This Krysna Chameleon cocktail ring highlights rough and polished colored diamonds in different colors and shapes, surrounding baguette-cut white diamonds and a 1.50-carat fancy deep brownish yellow diamond in an oval cut. debeers.com
Paris-based Valerie Messika likewise paid tribute to colored diamonds with several pieces in her 2019 Private Collection, including these earrings in her “M Rainbow” grouping. On hoops of 18-karat rose gold, 16 colored diamonds in different cuts and colors, totaling 6.018 carats, are delicately set on the edge of each earring, also accented with micro-set white diamonds. messika.com
Emeralds are key to Piaget’s “Golden Oasis” high-jewelry collection, as seen in this “Luxuriant Oasis” necklace of 18-karat white gold, which features marquise-cut emeralds embellishing a ribbon-like diamond necklace that’s inspired by the idea of a winding river. The 3.01-carat pear-shaped diamond that finishes the piece can be removed and worn on its own chain. piaget.com
The jewelry house worked with Gemfields to responsibly source the Zambian emeralds see throughout its latest high-jewelry collection. These Foliage Emerald Earrings feature pear- and marquise-shaped emeralds mixed with brilliant-cut diamonds and emeralds, all set in 18-karat white gold. faberge.com
Founded in Italy in 1919, Buccellati is celebrating its centennial with a variety of debuts, including a new Paris boutique on rue Saint-Honoré at the Hotel Costes, always a hotspot for fashion insiders and celebrities. The house’s 100th-anniversary collection highlights signature elements like its intricate goldwork, seen on this Budelli cocktail ring in 18-karat white and yellow gold, metalwork that nicely frames a sizeable kunzite. buccellati.com
Contrasts are key in “Magnitude,” the latest high-jewelry collection by Cartier, which combines the refinement of precious stones with ornamental hard stones like lapis lazuli, onyx, coral or turquoise. These earrings from the “Airavata” grouping — named for the white elephant that carried the Hindu god Indra — feature two oval-shaped, cabochon-cut star sapphires totaling 13.36 carats, offset by round-cut fancy yellow diamonds and brilliant-cut white diamonds in an art deco platinum setting. cartier.com
One of the world’s most historic jewelry houses, Boucheron has been at 26 Place Vendome since 1893 — Frederic Boucheron reportedly chose that address on the square because its position allowed his diamonds to shine the entire day — and is celebrating the latest refurbishment of its iconic flagship with a high-jewelry collection that pays tribute to its famous address.
Part of the fun of high jewelry is how it’s often conceptualized to transform into different looks, and that’s certainly true of this “Armoiries” sautoir, which indeed can be worn multiple ways: Crafted in 18-karat yellow gold and highlighting a 32.22-carat pear-shaped imperial topaz, accented with a pavé of diamonds, the brooch can be worn alone, with the tassel, or attached to a multitude of yellow-gold chains as a statement necklace. boucheron.com
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