July’s couture week is when jewelry houses typically present their new fine jewelry collections, but January’s spread — though smaller in scale — still had some major sparkle. Notably, Chopard presented its most precious jewelry set ever produced, courtesy of an ultrarare, 342-carat diamond discovered in the open-air Karowe mine in Botswana, and baptized the “Queen of Kalahari.” The awe-inspiring rock produced an ensemble of 23 diamonds, including five that weigh more than 20 carats.
Meanwhile, Chaumet and Boucheron figured among Place Vendôme players presenting more accessible interpretations of their high-jewelry lines. With prices starting at $1,500, Boucheron’s Serpent Bohème Color line, featuring semiprecious gems, marked the first time the house has used color in its Serpent Bohème line, which is based on the Boucheron Serpent line launched in the 1968.
Delivering their own charm offensive in today’s technology-obsessed world, meanwhile, was a range of mystery watches fresh out of the workshops of houses, including Chanel Joaillerie, Dior Joaillerie and Giampiero Bodino. Chanel Joaillerie’s “Medaillon” time-keeping necklace — with its upside-down watch set in a glyptic pear-cut crystal engraved with camellias and birds — was particularly beautiful, while Victoire de Castellane’s exquisite “bracelets that tell time” for Dior Joaillerie centered on her favorite gemstone, the mysterious opal.
Here, a look at the leading jewelry houses’ latest collections.
The Geneva-based house presented its most precious jewelry set ever produced, based on a spectacular suite of 23 diamonds cut from the same rock: an ultrarare, 342-carat diamond dubbed the Queen of Kalahari. The dazzling stone was discovered in the Karowe mine in Botswana.
Working with cutting-edge, Antwerp-based diamond cutters, the house was able to use more than 53 percent of the rock. (A large percentage by industry standards; the rest, alas, turned to diamond dust.)
Five of the stones weighed in at more than 20 carats. Three of them feature on the line’s star piece: a priceless, fully transformable necklace in a classic Chopard lacework design interspersed with floral and heart motifs nodding to co-president Caroline Scheufele’s lucky talisman. Baptized The Garden of Kalahari, the necklace features three detachable pendants: a D flawless type IIa 50-carat round brilliant flanked by heart-shaped and pear-shaped diamonds weighing 26 carats and 25 carats, respectively.
The house has also produced a 55-minute docu-fiction film around the discovery of the stone, helmed by Alexis Veller.
Titled Coco Avant Chanel (Coco Before Chanel in English,) the collection paid tribute to the young Gabrielle Chanel and the signatures she had already developed in the early stages of her life and career, as the owner of a successful hat business. (After Boy Capel offered her camellias, they became her favorite bloom, for instance, while the designer liked to use lace and loose ribbons to embellish her boater hats.)
The house presented 11 jewelry sets hooked on these founding elements of Chanel’s style, alongside 11 sets bearing the names of women who accompanied, marked or influenced her life pre-1920, including her younger sister, Antoinette, and Suzanne Orlandi, a friend she met through high society figure Étienne Balsan.
The collection’s jewelry masterpiece was the Gabrielle Chanel necklace evoking an asymmetric lace collar, in allover camellia motifs in white gold and diamonds, with a 10.02-carat pear-cut rock at its center.
Fresh out of the workshop were three breathtaking high-jewelry watches — in the form of two necklaces and one bracelet — from the house’s Les Eternelles de Chanel collection.
They included the Medaillon mystery watch necklace in white gold with a glyptic pear-cut crystal engraved with an abstract motif inspired by camellias and birds. Nestled in the base of the crystal was a small, pear-cut, 5.32-carat, fancy pale yellow diamond.
For the first time, Victoire de Castellane’s favorite stone took center stage in a collection entirely dedicated to opals.
Titled Dior et d’Opales, the collection housed eight secret watches — or rather, “bracelets that tell time” — nodding to Christian Dior’s lucky number. Bewitching opals — Ethiopian or black in variety — pivoted to reveal a dial set with diamonds. The surrounding décor of white diamonds or bold stones, meanwhile, had been selected to match the opals’ nuances, creating a dialogue between the gems and the opals’ “fires.”
Other highlights included the Petite Panache line of six rings and four pairs of earrings based on opals encased in curling feathers.
From the La D de Dior line, five one-of-a-kind timepieces with slices of opal on the dial — a highly technical feat given the delicate nature of the stone — and a diamond-set bezel rounded out the collection’s timekeeping offer. The designs will be presented at Baselworld in March.
Louis Vuitton presented a sampling of additions to its Blossom fine jewelry collection — unveiled in the summer at a presentation in Saint-Tropez — which is themed around the four-petal Monogram flower.
Precious and ornamental stones are also a leitmotif. Among the head-turners here was an Art Deco-style bracelet in draped lines of white gold and diamonds, its central three-petal Monogram flower motif set with an intoxicating 10.47-carat lavender spinel.
Taking a more purist direction was the line’s Agrafe necklace in white gold and diamonds, with asymmetric interlocking Monogram flower and pointed V motifs, the latter nodding to Gaston-Louis Vuitton’s personal monogram.
Boucheron is opening up its Serpent Bohème line to a broader market.
The house introduced its Serpent Bohème Color line, offering more wallet-friendly interpretations of the line — based on the original Boucheron Serpent collection launched in the 1968 — integrating colored semiprecious stones. Items included coiling Serpent rings with pointed heads in yellow gold and semiprecious stones, and openwork sautoirs in signature twisted chains. Prices start at $1,500.
The Place Vendôme jeweler also presented a set of high-jewelry pieces themed around another house code: ivy. They included a trembling ivy question mark necklace — Lierre de Paris — in 18-karat white gold and diamonds, inspired by an archive design. (House founder Frédéric Boucheron is said to have invented the question mark necklace in order for women to be able to put on their jewelry without requiring the help of a man.)
The collection focused on a reinterpretation of the bow knot, a recurrent motif in adornment for couture and jewelry in the 18th century, as a symbol of tenderness, affection or love.
Here, the bow knot was more spontaneous, sensual and asymmetric in form, playing on the idea that it could come untied at any moment, with a sense of duality at play in the colors and textures.
The motif played out on the house’s Precious Jewelry Repetitive line, where the same model can be made several times. The masterpiece of the high-jewelry set was the Insolence necklace with an intertwining rose gold chain and white gold ribbon set with round diamonds. (A signature of Chaumet is to show the stones, and not the metal.) Chaumet also exhibited a photo series on the collection by fashion photographer Karen Collins.
De Beers focused on its heritage: rough diamonds, showcasing what diamonds look like when they’re found in Mother Nature. The message: one can only achieve a beautiful polished rock by using a beautiful rough. Case in point: a 109-carat, type IIa rough diamond in all its natural beauty.
Guests were also invited to open folded paper parcels containing mini-rough diamonds in a variety of colors, a practice being rolled out through their stores.
Highlights from the brand’s finished products combining rough and polished diamonds included the pink gold Talisman medallion from the De Beers Talisman Collection, set with 52 brown rough, rose-cut, baguettes and round brilliant diamonds arranged in circles.
Among the week’s other highlights was Solange Azagury-Partridge’s collection of eight cocktail rings turned pop — or make that “Poptails.”
In the Salon Chinois of the Hôtel Costes, the designer presented eight unique rings in rainbowlike stacked slices of colored ceramic plate and lacquer, interspersed with layers of colored gems and topped by bold, character stones. Rocks ranged from a 1.34-carat ruby heart to a 14.8-carat faceted emerald (the latter the centerpiece of her out-of-this-world Space Station ring.)
The form of each ring followed the shape of its stone, while the pieces were just as gorgeous to look at from the side. “I don’t generally design around the stone, but this was a way of creating a specific shape for a specific set of gemstones and having their auras reverberate around them,” said Azagury-Partridge, who offers bespoke versions in any choice of stones. “The stone dictates the design and the aura.”
Heritage Japanese jewelry company Tasaki presented four creations from its Ritz Paris series that was launched in July in partnership with the hotel, to mark its reopening and Tasaki’s European push, with a store in the prestigious hotel.
The jeweler took inspiration from the Ritz’s archives for the line, and highlights here included the Rêve Ritz necklace contrasting jagged, yellow gold and diamond lightning-bolt motifs with strands of baroque akoya pearls in a pale blue tint nodding to the décor of Wallis Simpson’s suite at the hotel. The resulting mood was classicism with rock twists.
Marie-Hélène de Taillac
New highlights included brushed-gold cuffs dotted with a row of balls to create a fun relief from the jewelry designer’s Crown line, as well as a pair of earrings featuring two green onyx parrots on triangular brushed gold perches top-and-tailed with pearls. “It’s an homage to the green parrots that come into my garden at my home in India. For me, they bring good luck,” said de Taillac.
The designer also presented two collaborations: a hook-up with French fabric company Thevenon, featuring a charming illustration by Prune Cirelli based on de Taillac’s signature rainbow Briolette necklace, and a round leather jewelry case codesigned with French bag brand L’Uniform. The pouch is fitted with suede-covered memory foam so that jewelry can be stored sans compartments.
Highlights from the brand’s white diamonds and yellow gold Reflections suite — with as its core motif a golden ball suspended within an ellipse, as a contemporary twist on the eye — included drop earrings and rings in striking geometric compositions.
“I was a fashion designer before launching my line, and I like to take a lot of motifs from fashion,” said founder Michal Kadar.
Inspired by new love, designs from the Endless collection included necklaces strung with hearts and a flower-motif solitaire ring with Art Deco lines. Ranging from the sun, moon and stars to light and water, the story lines were poetic, but the sculptural forms were clean and modern.
As director of design for Compagnie Financière Richemont’s stable of brands, which includes Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, Giampiero Bodino knows a thing or two about jewelry watches. For the first time since the launch of his eponymous jewelry brand, the designer introduced three mystery watches, hidden within one-of-a-kind high-jewelry bracelets.
“I set out to create the perfect jewel that tells the time. The challenge lay in the technical issues of striking the right balance in terms of thickness, in order for it to remain a beautiful piece of jewelry [first and foremost], and not a watch,” said Bodino.
Housing delicate quartz timepieces, the creations were based on three signature house themes: Mosaico, Primavera and Rosa dei Venti. The most contemporary of the three — though mixed with a touch of classic — was the articulated Mosaico bracelet in a geometric, Art Deco-style composition of white diamonds, black spinels and white gold. The creation clips onto the wrist using a spring mechanism.
Mini aluminum and Perspex sculptures based on the Place Vendôme column that could be seen through the window at Dauphin’s Hôtel d’Évreux presentation served as platforms for the brand’s latest jewelry goodies. Built from asymmetrical cylindrical blocks, the columns echoed the broken lines of the house’s signature rings.
Charlotte Dauphin de la Rochefoucauld introduced transformable, stackable pendants based on accumulations of rings that can also be worn on the finger. The pendants came with chains or industrial-looking cables in varying lengths in 18-karat white or rose gold.
The designer also played with mixes of rose and white gold, as well as sprinklings of pale pink diamonds.