Just like Paris Haute Couture fashion, Paris High Jewelry is about dreams, innovative and audacious designs. Though the obvious difference is that one is made with sumptuous fabrics, and the other is created in diamonds, gemstones and precious metal.
Big jewelry houses have proven that stones and metal don’t have to be hard and rigid in their designs – and their attitude. The latest round of collections shown at Paris High Jewelry week were full of surprises. They showed that even seriously important diamonds and gems can be whimsical, edgy and fresh yet at the same time remain an enduring investment piece.
Paris High Jewelry Week showed us that high jewelry isn’t just for the “wow” factor. Yes, that sensationalism exists but there’s so much more today. New pieces are infused with a sense of modernism that makes many designs wearable every day and not just on formal occasions. Maybe that’s because increasingly women are in charge creatively at the big houses. That includes Boucheron’s ground-breaking creative director Claire Choisne (who has been called the Willy Wonka of jewelry), Cartier’s Jacqueline Karachi, creative director for high jewelry, Messika’s Valerie Messika, and Celine Assimon, CEO of De Beers Forevermark.
Here are eight pieces from Paris High Jewelry to make you dream.
Bois Brûlé Diamant Necklace
Claire Choisne’s new collection for Boucheron is aptly named Ailleurs (French for elsewhere) because it takes you to new places where anything is possible. The striking Bois Brûlé necklace pairs diamonds with burnt oak wood that was charred in the Japanese “chou sugi ban” technique. The treatment makes the wood exceptionally resilient, which is the perfect pairing with the world’s hardest substance diamonds.
The design’s beauty is in its poetic minimalist style. The contrasting black and white necklace (modeled on a man in Paris) features two natural elements: diamonds and wood that were both transformed to bring out their best character and conjoined in one stand-out piece.
Frozen Capture Earrings
These striking rock crystal and diamond earrings from De Beers were inspired by the play of light through frozen rivers when the ice gradually thaws around the edges and becomes more transparent. For this design, Brazilian rock crystal was carved into fine slices, dotted with diamonds, and is dripping with a fringe of round and marquise diamonds. With just over 10 carats of diamonds in total, they are big on impact but streamlined and chic.
Oktogon Beautés Du Monde Earrings and Ryu Beautés Du Monde Necklace
Cartier’s bold platinum earrings are a reflection of modernism with a graphic mix of round white diamonds and sleek black onyx in a striking pattern that sweeps up the ear and a spectacular hexagonal-shaped diamond drop.
Bold, graphic and artistic. That defines Cartier’s Ryu necklace made with nearly 80 carats of white and yellow diamond in a design that is strong yet airy. The mix of dazzling diamonds in a mesmerizing pattern is created with openwork that illustrates a sense of lightness but it’s still heavy on glamour.
Van Cleef & Arpels
Sparkling Waves Necklace
For Paris High Jewelry week, Van Cleef & Arpels reimagined the high-collar fashions worn by women in the Renaissance era into a curvaceous diamond necklace that appears like a cascade of light with dripping diamonds that move the wearer. It’s a classical reference but distinctly contemporary and feminine with its wave design and sense of movement.
The 1898 series is named for the year the Ritz Paris first opened its doors on Place Vendome. These undulating curved diamond earrings are reminiscent of the famous hotel’s hanging crystal chandeliers. But these exquisite chandelier earrings portray a sense of movement and openness that make appropriate for day or night. Comprised of round, marquise and pear-shaped diamonds, each earring features a pear-shaped diamond drop that floats freely.
Rete D’Oro Bracelet from the Vintage Collection
Some things get better with age. The legendary Italian house unveiled a capsule collection of curated vintage pieces at Paris High Jewelry, each selected for its sense of timeliness today. Made in 1992, the Rete D’Oro (golden web bracelet) is an artistic version of today’s power cuff. Large scale but feminine with its lacy openwork and fine detailing, this statement cuff has 220 brilliant-cut diamonds yet it’s still light and airy.
Graffabulous High Jewelry Necklace
At Paris High Jewelry, Graff debuted this year’s GRAFFABULOUS high jewelry collection, the house created 80 unique pieces each designed to enhance the inherent beauty of the diamonds and gemstones. This necklace with 80 carats of diamonds carries the spirit of its Tribal collection with specially cut stones in unique patterns. Of course, it’s designed to draw your attention to the three drop-dead pear-shaped diamond drops (more than 24 carats combined). It’s Graff’s technical prowess in setting large diamonds without a trace visible metal that delivers the magic and sense of modernism.
New high jewelry is more flexible, supple and shapely. It’s lighter both literally and aesthetically to reflect a contemporary sensibility. Gone are the heavy metal settings of the past in favor of alternative materials including titanium, wood and aluminum. There is a newfound sexiness in styles that have diamonds appearing to float freely on the skin or dripping from a collar like raindrops.
It’s an evolution of high jewelry in style and inventive techniques but at the same time these houses integrated references to their historic roots. With a nod to past and their eyes on the future, they are forging ahead making high jewelry fun for everyone, even for us voyeurs.