PARIS — The fashion set may have been atwitter with the glittering crimson look sported by Doja Cat at Schiaparelli, but the artist was only the first of many sparkling novelties during couture week.
Bold hues dominated Paris as storied and independent jewelers reached deep into their vaults to unearth sizable gemstones — big enough to share, in fact.
Though winter felt firmly entrenched in Paris with chilly temperatures throughout couture week, De Beers was foreshadowing all four seasons with a nine-piece prelude to its 44-piece “Metamorphosis” collection inspired by nature’s transformations.
This first chapter took the shape of transformable pieces composed of four strands, each representing a season and putting the accent on one of the jeweler’s goldsmithing techniques. It also marked the first time the three gold tones have been mixed on high jewelry pieces that ranged from a “jacket” ring that could slip around a solitaire, dangling ear cuff and a four-strand necklace that could be separated into a shorter version and choker that could be worn independently from each other.
Versatility and being able to share have also become a selling point for jewelers. “At a certain level of investment, pieces that can be dissembled into several independent jewels is often part of the [client’s] brief, as jewelry is part of the family’s assets,” said De Beers chief executive officer Céline Assimon.
Wearing pieces together, separated or shared was also possible in Boucheron’s “Like a Queen” collection, the annual Histoire de Style line by creative director Claire Choisne, who took the late Queen Elizabeth II as inspiration, or rather one of her most sentimental jewels.
On her final portrait and no less than 47 documented instances, the late British monarch wore a pair of aquamarine and diamond brooches from Boucheron she had received as an 18th birthday gift from her parents.
Choisne reinterpreted them into seven monochromatic sets — another homage to the queen’s zesty fashion choices — including “Hypnotic Blue” and its sapphire cuff, featuring a 6-carat one from Ceylon and outlined on cobalt blue lacquer; the aptly named “Color Block” earrings that can be worn as ear cuffs, thanks to a collapsible post, or the “Rolling Red” necklace, whose central design looks like the royal brooch scattering its jewels. Each hue offers a ring shaped after the double design and featuring a solitaire that be worn, well, solo.
Most versatile of them all is the “Frosty White” necklace, which offered six configurations, from a single brooch to a multirow necklace nodding to the queen’s signature pearl necklace or even a cape clasp.
To challenge jewelry’s highly codified mores, the Boucheron way is to “not impose but propose strongly” from the choice of materials to the imagery, said Choisne during intimate presentation sessions, where the various wares were showcased on very Swinging Sixties outfits.
Transformation was also key at reborn 19th-century jeweler Rouvenat, where sourcing dormant stone stocks gave life to its first three high jewelry designs, based on its clover-shaped patented padlock design that allows each piece to be customized on the go. The highlight was the yellow brushed gold “Bolt Orissa” necklace with pavé shackles and a 48-carat ruby pompom. Its stones and name come from the defunct Orissa mine in India, closed since the ’30s.
Taiwanese jeweler Cindy Chao presented a pair of fresh cardamom pods as her 2022 Black Label Masterpieces, executed in a painterly dégradé of titanium and 4,500 stones. Despite the 400-plus carats of gemstones including 81-carat oval Colombian emerald cabochons, each brooch only came in at 85 to 90 grams — or “four macarons,” she quipped.
One piece has already sold and Chao hoped that the collector who had purchased the first piece would be interested in the second. But failing that, “I will just have to introduce them to each other,” she said, revealing that male collectors — not just buyers — now represented 30 percent of her clients.
Dior’s haute couture tradition and history continue to be a wellspring for Victoire de Castellane, a decade after Dear Dior and five years after Dior Dior Dior. On Jan. 22, the house presented the first chapter of Dearest Dior, a 77-piece evocation of lace that includes two high watchmaking automata designs that come alive at the press of the crown.
Transparency was the name of the game that saw gold turned into mesh medallions, delicate scalloped trims for the ear, or a stunning white gold, diamond and emerald floral choker.
A tattoo-like impression was particularly present on the rose gold pieces, which played with the skin. To further the vibrancy of its sizable center stones, the designer continued to use tone-on-tone lacquer to match the metal prongs to each gem’s hue.
While Dior was among those starting a new story — to be continued in June with a presentation in Lake Como — a number of houses reprised unfolding stories for their January displays.
Francesca Amfitheatrof pushed further her exploration of the Destiny, Liberty, Fantasy and Radiance themes from Louis Vuitton’s Spirit high jewelry collection unveiled in June in Marrakesh.
In this second chapter, flexibility was the driving force in articulated designs that curled around wrists, necks and all over the ears. The intertwined chevron design of the Fantasy necklace was accented with two LV Monogram Star-cut diamonds, for a piece that could be worn three ways, while the Radiance ear cuff curled over the shell of the ear, making the mandarin spessartite garnet seem to float off a glittering mesh.
Repetition of geometric motifs throughout the lineup created a sense of unity, best exemplified in the yellow gold and platinum Destiny collar, where interlocking Vs curve around the neck and are edged with 34 luminous red rubies. The centerstone is an intense 3-carat pigeon blood pear-shaped ruby that dangles from a monogram-cut diamond.
One idea spotted at Louis Vuitton was that the earlobe could be an integral part of the design, like the Destiny hoop that starts on the front and loops to the back.
This layering of ear and jewels is something that houses have been playing with recently, spotted here and there throughout the week but also in Piaget’s Exalting Dance earring, unveiled in November as part of the third chapter of its Solstice high jewelry offering.
Passing through the door of Gucci on Place Vendôme led into a garden of delights, or rather, the 40-piece continuation of the third chapter of Hortus Deliciarum, the high jewelry collection unveiled in 2019 by then-artistic director Alessandro Michele. Flora and fauna continue to be inspirations, delivered through ornate designs that were celebrated in a glittering dinner last Tuesday at the Ritz.
A striking example was a diamond-studded geometric chain necklace that ended in a pendant with a thumb-sized mandarin garnet cabochon surrounded by tremblant-mounted tourmaline leaves.
Among other standouts were the yellow gold multifinger ring set with a beautiful 38.8-carat green tourmaline centerpiece; a 200-plus carat morganite set on an opulent cuff; a necklace that looked like a double strand of colorful hard candies strung around the neck, and a ring, featuring a 14.7 carat and unusually hued tanzanite, that looked like a star fallen to earth.
Out of the 40-odd pieces in Buccellati’s Macri collection presented in November at New York’s Whitney Museum, only a dozen arrived unsold in Paris. But it was enough to get a taste of the cocktail vibe of the finely wrought colorful rings, button earrings and pendant necklaces featuring semiprecious stones and even blue zircons from 3 to 15 carats in size.
Taking pride of place at Bulgari was its latest Serpenti necklace, with a reptile channel-set in some 9.53 carats of emeralds with a dash of onyx, curling languidly around a torque necklace featuring 27.83 carats of brilliant-cut white diamonds. Another necklace, titled “Le Magnifiche,” felt like it played with reptilian stripes, glittering red and diamond to highlight its 10-carat antique cushion-cut ruby.
In the third chapter of its “Beautés du Monde” high jewelry collection, Cartier continued to “transcribe the richness of cultures, landscapes, fauna and flora,” stated Jacqueline Karachi, creative director of Cartier Prestige. Japanese obi belts, feathered fowl, watery waves and even a seismic graph were among the motifs turned precious here.
Take the Splendens bib necklace, its cascade of spinels beads held in place in special caps by minute nails were a nod to the undulating fins of fighting fish. An additional 27.79 carats of oval and pear spinels, as well as lozenge-shaped diamonds finish off this evocation of swiftly gliding through water.
As for the ocelli of a peacock’s feathered tail, it was executed as overlapping motifs in platinum, emeralds, diamonds and opals, with an onyx trim to give the ensemble the depth of the animal’s proud display.
Another exceptional 43-carat black Australian opal was the center stone of David Morris’ Amunet necklace, inspired by a 2018 exhibition on Tutankhamun that left a lasting impression on chief executive officer and creative director Jeremy Morris. The piece flashed blue all around from electric blue Paraïba tourmalines to the Burmese sapphire used on its ornate clasp.
The British jeweler made its Paris return after the pandemic with “Skylines,” an exploration of light streaking across the skies and transforming cityscapes, starting with the necklace’s evocation of an Egyptian myth of souls transforming into stars and right up to the “Mosaica” set with its lozenges set with blue sapphires and white diamonds that nod to window shapes of London’s skycrapers.
For Chopard, the wait for the emeralds descended from the 6,225-carat Insofu continues. In the meantime, its “Exceptional Stones” lineup was a reminder that stones are the start of all the designs imagined by copresident and artistic director Caroline Scheufele. The designs were presented as sketches, including a pair of cocktail rings meant to house two whopping 150- and 120-carat vivid yellow Ceylon sapphires; a geometric design intended for a vivid red pigeon blood ruby from East Africa, and the floral earrings and matching “you and me”-style ring that will be home to contrasted pairs of soft pink and green diamonds.
Even silver-and-diamond specialist Statement has turned its eye toward the bigger picture — when it comes to stones. Its voluminous Meaningful Beauties rings reprise the Art Deco-meets-Brutalism aesthetics of its fine jewelry lines, with the addition of brilliant-cut center stones that include a 4-carat sunshine yellow sapphire or a 4-carat tanzanite.
For her fourth collection titled “La Ligne,” Repossi artistic director Gaia Repossi wanted to “highlight the stone in an abstract way,” by making the stones float above graphic metal lines. Case in point: the open line of 211 channel-set gems that curls around the neck and is punctuated by a 1.5-carat pear-shaped diamond. And cradling the stone is the tongue-in-cheek “Eiffel Tower” bezel setting that feels like a nod to its Place Vendôme home.
With a 50-carat D flawless diamond as the centerpiece of its January lineup, it goes without saying that Graff is continuing its mission to source exceptional stones. Other gems are not forgotten, as epitomized by a tray-full of earrings that came set with Colombian emeralds, Sri Lankan sapphires, pigeon blood rubies from Mozambique and yellow diamonds. An Art Deco vibe emanated from these designs that played with geometric shapes nodding to adornments of various cultures but never distracting from the real stars — the gems.
For all those big stones and even bigger business, Emmanuel Tarpin felt that “high jewelry takes itself too seriously sometimes” and he wanted to take it all with a pinch of salt, or rather, of chili. This condiment came in the shape of a brooch in a bracing gradient of rubies and spinels, set on red gold and patinaed bronze.
While no new high jewelry designs were unveiled at Chanel, the Rue Cambon house doubled down on heritage. On the one hand it showed the Mademoiselle Privé watches inspired by pincushions and on the other, it revealed that a reproduction of the “Tweed Couture” necklace from the tweed-themed 2020 collection would be integrated to its patrimonial collection. It can also be read as a teaser for their next high jewelry offering, titled “Tweed de Chanel,” slated to be unveiled in June.