Giorgio Armani has done just about everything in fashion, except high jewelry. Until now. With last week’s unveiling of the collection, Armani expanded his brand’s range to include luxury’s most precious category.
“I believe that today there is a genuine interest in artisanry, for beautifully crafted, exclusive items made with care, and made to last,” Armani said via e-mail. “It felt like the right time to dedicate my energy to the creation of high jewelry, to complement the existing Armani Privé clothing and accessories offering.”
Giorgio Armani Privé Haute Jewellery made its debut in New York at the brand’s Madison Avenue boutique, in conjunction with the arrival of the spring 2019 haute couture. The collection is still in New York, and will travel to Tokyo and Paris before returning to Milan. Armani chose New York for the launch because he views the U.S. as “a very demanding but receptive market,” and a strong test for other global markets. According to a spokesperson, “some very important pieces” were sold during the week, though she declined to specify which in deference to client privacy.
Although not shown on the Privé couture runway in January, the jewelry was conceived in concert with that collection, which worked a Jazz Age vibe, often in a red, white and blue palette. The jewelry derives clearly from an Art Deco inspiration, and makes liberal use of diamonds, sapphires and rubies set in white gold for pieces featuring bold, clean-lined architectural motifs.
Red agate, Tahitian pearls, coral and onyx also feature prominently in the 23-piece collection, priced from $20,000 to $190,000 and composed of two necklaces, seven each of bracelets and rings, six pairs of earrings and one brooch, each item one-of-a-kind. The pieces are made by hand in Italy under Armani’s direction. “My objective is to make the finest jewelry possible with the most exquisite materials while employing the very best of the jewelry skills and craftsmanship. It is an authentic expression of the art of jewelry-making,” he said.
Not surprising for a couturier turning his eye toward high jewelry, Armani has taken a design-driven approach. “In each case, the design of the item will be directed by the properties of the stones employed. But the geometry of a contemporary take on the spirit of Art Deco is what binds the collection together as a whole,” he noted. Still, sometimes sourcing turns up an extraordinary gem that demands special treatment, and Armani can envision altering his design approach in such a case. “I wouldn’t ever rule out creating a special piece if a particularly remarkable stone were to present itself,” he said. “But I expect that I will always be more drawn to the overall design aesthetic of the collection.”
Armani said the brand is hyper-focused on ensuring ethical sourcing of its stones. “My group has been and is actively working on all corporate social responsibility aspects of its activity in line with the official international conventions and with the highest industry standards, both social and environmental,” he explained. “The group requires that the same standards and commitments are fulfilled in its supply chain and therefore suppliers are carefully selected.”
Given that the jewelry was created in tandem with the couture, Armani expects existing Privé customers, whom he called “very discerning,” to form the initial client base for the jewelry. That said, with time, he expects it to find an audience of its own.
Armani sees this launch as something of a crowning glory to his brand’s vast reach, one reflective of his career-long commitment to “essential and sophisticated luxury.” With no restrictions in terms of cost.
“It’s a great addition to the Armani universe, a really good expression of our passionate and innovative approach, the same as that seen in the Armani Privé haute couture collection,” he said. He added that with no price or design restrictions, the high jewelry “is an expression of pure creativity…
“The only challenge is to make it fulfill its promise,” Armani continued. “But that is the challenge in everything I do — how to bring a creative idea to fruition so that it stays true to the original concept.”