If the summer high-jewellery presentations, which take place each July, are full of extravagant collections showcasing the breadth of a creative director’s imagination, then January’s smaller (though no less spectacular) editions are generally about revisiting a Maison’s archive and adapting its treasures for a modern audience.
Boucheron, for example, looked to its historic use of rock crystal for a monochromatic collection dedicated to the glory of ceremonial regalia, like the embellishments that once adorned the Duke of Edinburgh’s uniform, while Chaumet found inspiration in the bird motifs that have been a key part of its repertoire for 240 years – ever since the house furnished the French Empress Joséphine, a renowned bird collector, with glittering jewels.
Elsewhere, Cartier looked to the striking silhouettes, bold colour combinations and naturalistic themes that have dominated its designs for over a century, for its latest ‘Le Voyage Recommencé’ chapter, and even Louis Vuitton – still a relative newcomer in the high-jewellery business – put its own unique spin on the past. Creative director Francesca Amfitheatrof looked to ancient history (to the creation of the earth, in fact) and re-imagined shifting tectonic plates, primordial life forms and even fossilised bones as glittering sets of collar necklaces, cuffs and cocktail rings.
Far from letting the past hold them back, the world’s greatest jewellery houses are using it to fuel feats of enormous creativity and exquisite craftsmanship, creating remarkable pieces fit for a discerning, modern-day audience.
Here, we round up the most remarkable jewels worth dreaming about right now.
An extension of last year’s 'Le Voyage Recommencé' high-jewellery collection, 2024’s latest chapter sees Cartier once again taking design cues from flora and fauna, much as it has done for over a century. “Working with lines, volumes, colour palettes, inspiration from nature and world cultures… we explore so many territories to push the boundaries of creation and discover new horizons. Like a journey that is repeated over and over again,” explains the house’s director of high-jewellery creation, Jacqueline Karachi. Cue dazzling necklaces adorned in fruity-looking combinations of carved gemstones, pieces that resemble sea urchins or prowling panthers and, as a particular highlight, a spectacular suite of jewels named 'Yfalos' that owes its bold hues to a tropical coral reef.
Couture detailing was the focus at Dior, where Victoire de Castellane honoured the intricate embroidery that featured in many of Christian Dior’s couture gowns with her new collection, ‘Délicat’. For one suite, fine lines of diamonds have been set into gold to resemble the neat stitches of Dior’s talented ‘petite mains’, who craft the clothing with precision and finesse, while other earrings, necklaces and cuffs feature colourful arrangements of rubies, sapphires, rubellites and tanzanites that recall floral appliqué. In a feat of supreme craftsmanship, rose gold has even been hand-carved into strips of lacy ‘ribbon’, swatches of which would have no doubt filled Monsieur Dior’s atelier in the 1940s and '50s.
In the hands of Boucheron’s creative director, Claire Choisne, humble rock crystal – a signature material at the Maison for decades – can be elevated into all manner of precious jewels. This season it has been frosted, sliced and sculpted to resemble military braids, bows and frogging for a new collection entitled ‘The Power of Couture’. Here, it provides a luminous contrast to icy white diamonds, as seen in one ingenious necklace which resembles a collar of gleaming medals (which took over 2,000 hours to construct), or a pair of pendant earrings that look like neat lines of engraved buttons. Transformability is also a big feature of the collection, with detachable elements in almost every piece – think collars that change into tiaras, necklace motifs that become brooches, and shoulder adornments that can be worn on your waist or in your hair.
The new ‘Forces of Nature’ high-jewellery line is a sparkling tribute to southern Africa, an important region in De Beers’ diamond production. Eight eye-catching rings, all with an important diamond at their heart, have been crafted to resemble animals native to the area. The Lion Jacket ring sees a 5.09-carat trilliant-cut diamond surrounded by a ‘mane’ of beaded yellow gold, which can be taken off if you’d rather wear the central diamond as a solitaire. Meanwhile, the Zebra Jacket ring is a chunky cocktail piece with a stunning 3.09 carat Asscher-cut diamond embraced by a (removable) pair of prancing zebras with black lacquer and white diamond bodies. If a playful and spirited approach to nature is key to these jewels, we can expect even greater flights of fancy when the rest of the collection is revealed this summer.
As the official jeweller to the French Empress Joséphine, the house of Nitot (which later evolved into Chaumet) produced exquisite jewels bearing many of her favourite motifs, including birds. The Empress was a renowned animal collector and amassed a large menagerie of feathered creatures – such as rare swans, parrots and Australian emus – at her country home, Malmaison. Nearly three centuries later, the storied Parisian jeweller has revisited this important theme in ‘Un Air de Chaumet’. Blending innovative silhouettes (ear cuffs, multi-purpose hair pins and asymmetric earrings) with the traditional symbol for happiness, a flock of swallows, the collection radiates energy, lightness and joy, which seems apt for our increasingly uncertain times.
CEO and creative director Jeremy Morris has combined two of his greatest fascinations – extraordinary gemstones and the mesmerising beauty of the Aurora Borealis – into a spectacular new collection named 'Skye' (also the name of his youngest daughter). Precious green, blue and pink-hued gems have been used throughout to immortalise the ethereal colours of the Northern Lights, as in the weighty ‘Starburst’ bangle that shimmers with over 58 carats of sapphires and more than 52 carats of bright Paraiba tourmalines; or the ‘Horizon’ cocktail ring, which glows with a peachy-pink padparadscha sapphire set atop rows of pink diamonds (a house favourite since the 1960s). The collection also highlights the use of rose-cut brilliants, a shape which Jeremy Morris revived more than 20 years ago, as used in the Asteria white diamond necklace, which fuses their soft, romantic shape with a graphic silhouette to create dynamism and drama.
As ever, Graff has done away with excess metal, distracting motifs and overbearing settings and let its gemstones do all the talking – after all, the house is responsible for selling some of the rarest stones in the world, so why detract from their glory? Flawless yellow diamonds, dazzling Columbian emeralds, deep red Mozambican rubies and velvety, untreated sapphires from Sri Lanka take centre stage in its latest collection, all enhanced with white diamonds for flashes of exceptional brilliance. The house also proves that sometimes, size really does matter – as testified by an enormous 118-carat cushion cut sapphire set in a dramatic diamond bangle and a weighty 17.29 emerald in a pared-back platinum ring.
The dawn of time was again the theme at Louis Vuitton, with 50 new one-of-a-kind designs added to the house’s existing 'Deep Time' high-jewellery collection. “At Louis Vuitton we are as ever adventurers, travelling to extraordinary, unexpected places,” says creative director Francesca Amfitheatrof of her eternal inspiration. The ancient supercontinents of Gondwana and Laurasia have given rise, both literally and imaginatively, to a parure featuring a unique seven-row necklace of yellow and pink gold contrasted with cool platinum and set with yellow diamonds. Elsewhere, Amfitheatrof has interpreted the structure of primordial DNA into a geometric suite bristling with white gold ‘nails’, and soft, globular bodies of early fungi into to a stunning multi-stranded necklace strewn with pink and purple spinels and dotted with diamond ‘mushroom caps’. Of course, the house’s link to modern travel is never far away – with signature flower-cut gemstones, diamond ropes and tassels used throughout the collection, recalling its iconic travel luggage.
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