By Mimosa Spencer
with contributions from Joelle Diderich
 on January 28, 2019
Cindy Chao's Greenovia Brooch

PARIS — A new breeze continues to blow through the world of high jewelry, as seen here during couture week, with traditional players sprucing themselves up for the coming generations while smaller brands push farther into the privileged realm. 

Stark colors, including a profusion of greens, dominated collections at Chaumet, Chopard and Piaget, as well as Cindy Chao. The Taiwanese designer chose Paris for the global unveiling of her new diamond butterfly brooch, an Impressionist display of colored stones, including diamonds ranging from yellow to brown, and a 10-carat orange diamond as the centerpiece.


Chanel's rouge tentation ring

Chanel’s rouge tentation ring.  Courtesy

Chanel concentrated on the signature house camelia flower, offering the same shape in various materials and sizes — most of them transformable — while Boucheron displayed its ivy question mark necklace in rose gold — showing it on the upper floors of its newly renovated flagship. Vegetation was absent at Cartier, which drew a crowd to the mineral gallery on the other side of Paris for a dinner full of tricks and viewing of a ring with diamonds in a rock crystal dome.

Louis Vuitton gave a hint of what’s to come, previewing a selection of pieces drawn up by its recently recruited designer Francesca Amfitheatrof, who will show her first high-jewelry collection for the house in July. 

Smaller jewelers included a newcomer, Tatiana Verstraeten, who unveiled her first high-jewelry collection at her perch on Place Vendôme, while veteran Suzanne Syz took, once again, to a salon at the Ritz with her playful pieces, which included a hot-and-cold-water faucet earring set. 

The china had just been cleared following a star-studded dinner celebration of the store — where guests included Uma Thurman, Gong Li, Salma Hayek and Léa Seydoux — when Boucheron eased into comfort mode for the jewelry presentations. Barefoot models sat on a sprawling couch, playing with pieces from the label’s brand new Jack collection — a series of thin, slinky bracelets and necklaces that clip together to add length, starting at around 3,000 euros. Simple and stylized, the label refers to the line as both “boho chic” and “rock chic” — depending on how one assembles the pieces, which come in white and yellow gold, with or without diamonds. 

High jewelry was shown in the bedroom and adjoining bathroom. There, a model sat at a dressing table in silky pajamas wearing the Delilah necklace, a fabriclike mesh of yellow gold with diamonds; the question mark necklace sat nearby, quivering, when gently prodded.

The house has prepared a new advertising campaign that will run at the end of January called “free spirit,” which marks a departure from the previous, graphic approach by bringing in Andreea Diaconu as the face of the campaign and showing her wearing the pieces.

While Boucheron’s teams settle into their new digs, neighboring Chaumet, which is gearing up for renovations of its own, showed its jewelry in a temporary outpost on the Left Bank’s Boulevard Saint Germain. 

The house unveiled its new Bolero watch, which has a braceletlike gold wristband — flat and wide, it melds to the skin. Also on show: Elaborate necklaces and other pieces from the Josephine Aigrette collection, with new, colored stones, including a selection of rings each with a large, chunky stones as a centerpiece — an emerald, a sapphire and a ruby. 

Chaumet took over the private mansion to draw in the public for a series of exhibits — starting with its history linked to writers, including Edith Wharton. 

“We know there are a lot of people, notably French people, that hesitate to go to the Place Vendôme, to push open the door of the high jewelers [there] because it’s intimidating, because it’s very luxurious, it’s very expensive,” said Chaumet chief executive officer Jean-Marc Mansvelt. 

The label hopes people will learn that it is a “grand French house of culture and tradition that does high jewelry but that also does, simply, jewelry,” he added, speaking in the sofa-lined top floor suite of the mansion, with exposed beams and plush carpet, and a view of the boulevard.

Chao’s suite at the Ritz, meanwhile, looked out on the hotel’s snow-covered garden. The designer is heading into a year packed with events as she marks her label’s 15th anniversary, and decided to kick it off by unveiling her latest butterfly brooch, which she designed for an unnamed client identified only as an art collector of works by Zao Wou-Ki and Sanyu. Part butterfly, part stylized flower, Chao designed the hand-sized piece with her wax sculpting technique; it took more than two years to make. To offer insight into her creative influences, she brought images of the palatial and ornate temples designed by her grandfather, a prominent Taiwanese architect. 

She also showed the Greenovia, a flower brooch built around a 105-carat cat’s eye, green, from Sri Lanka, technically complicated for the use of soft silver and hard titanium, and encrusted with a range of green stones including tsavorites, alexandrites and fancy-cut emeralds.

Chopard's magical setting sapphire ring

Chopard’s magical setting sapphire ring.  Courtesy

Chopard presented its new “magical setting” collection, which features a special technique for fixing the stones so the setting is not visible. Gems on rings and earrings are arranged in classic, geometric flower shapes, mixing white diamonds with one color of stones for each — rubies, emeralds or sapphires. Marking its store expansion plans, the house set up a pop up room in the future space next door to the Rue Saint Honoré address, covering the wall with a thousand fresh flowers, and employing a ballerina to model the jewelry in the intimate, boudoir space. 

Barbara necklace by Tatiana Verstraeten

Barbara necklace by Tatiana Verstraeten.  Courtesy

Verstraeten showed her debut high-jewelry line in her own cozy space tucked behind the storefronts lining the Place Vendôme. The designer — who hails from the workshops of Chanel, where she designed head pieces for Karl Lagerfeld, and who has also worked for Anthony Vaccarello — showed her assertive Barbara necklace. Named after the singer, its feathery layers can clasp together around the neck or left open, like a collar.

Her more romantic piece, the Vienne necklace, is an assemblage of petal-like butterfly wings, with a pale pastel enamel sprinkled with diamonds and moonstones.

To celebrate the launch of her line, the designer held a dinner at Hôtel de Crillon with close friends, business partners and family, including her parents.

Water faucet earrings from Suzanne Syz

Water faucet earrings from Suzanne Syz.  Courtesy

Syz brought her trademark humor to the Ritz, showing a pair of enamel earrings depicting George Condo art, crafted by a retired enamel artisan. “Wear your works of art,” she laughed, before moving on to the “hot-cold” earrings. Below the water faucet handles dangled a shower of tourmalines in various shades of blue and green.

An infusion of green dominated Piaget’s high-jewelry pieces as well, with the “night illusion necklace,” which featured an over 10-carat Colombian emerald with baguette-cut emeralds fanning off the sides of its swirls. Another standout was the prominent green aurora cuff with bright green and blue marquetry and a more than 14-carat tourmaline.

Chunky bracelets and necklaces set the tone for the new fine jewelry at Vuitton, the first pieces designed by Amfitheatrof. The chevalier ring, a staple through the ages, served as the starting point, which was refashioned into a polished half-globe that felt modern. The label’s signature blossom served as the backbone of the collection, quite present but a tad more discreet because of the heft of the jewelry. Rose quartz and black onyx provided smooth backdrops.

Cartier, which usually presents its collection during the spring and fall women’s ready-to-wear collections, was back at couture week with a limited-edition collection called Les Galaxies de Cartier, consisting of 14 pieces and billed as a creative exploration of the cosmos. Among the highlights of the collection, presented in the Gallery of Mineralogy and Geology in the Jardin des Plantes botanical garden, was a ring featuring diamonds mounted using a “serti vibrant,” or trembling setting, inside a hollow dome of rock crystal.

Cyrille Vigneron, president and ceo of Cartier International, said the collection was something of a one-off. “It’s a creative launch where what matters is the inspiration. There is no prior marketing effort to determine what gap it might fill. We give the designers a theme and they run with it,” Vigneron told WWD at the dinner celebrating the launch, which drew VIPs including Tilda Swinton, Sofia Coppola and Golshifteh Farahani.

“The theme of the cosmos had never been done in jewelry, and the trembling setting, which is normally used in watchmaking, had never been tried in jewelry,” he noted. “It’s a limited-edition exploratory capsule that we offer for sale, but don’t plan to extend. The main purpose is to explore a previously unknown area.”