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MILAN — It may have taken Jaeger-LeCoultre 175 years to tackle fine jewelry, but the prestige watchmaker believes it was worth the wait.

This story first appeared in the September 3, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

A handful of skilled craftsmen took two years to create a one-of-a-kind suite for the watchmaker, which was founded in 1833. Priced at $4.3 million, the four-piece suite, called Parure Extraordinaire Le Lierre, comprises a cuff watch, a necklace, earrings and a ring. The collection is an extension of two watch lines — Le Rose and Le Tulip.

“It’s something unique that derives from the capacity and creativity of five gem setters who have reached the highest level of mastery and were entirely dedicated to the project,” said Jerome Lambert, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s chief executive officer. “These jewels were a natural evolution of the watches.”

The suite was unveiled Sunday night during a dinner and runway show at the Venice Film Festival attended by Diane Kruger, the house’s muse.

Replicating nature, the intertwined ivy springs to life in graduating greens and pale yellows, courtesy of yellow sapphires, emeralds and tsavorites.

Based on a design by Giampiero Bodino, artistic director at parent company Compagnie Financière Richemont, a crop of artisans painstakingly embossed 12,000 stones weighing approximately 160 carats. Some are Lilliputian in size with a diameter of only half a millimeter, yet still are fully cut.

The necklace flaunts a flawless 5.19-carat yellow diamond with an oval cut, while a smaller 2.3-carat stone lights up the ring. The watch has a manually wound mechanism and features a black rhodium-plated 18-karat yellow gold case concealed beneath a leaf.

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