Byline: Wendy Hessen

NEW YORK — When the doors of Christian Dior’s first U.S. fine jewelry boutique are unlocked today, shoppers will find a unique blend of the French fashion house’s historic chic and a healthy dose of wit.
The sleek design comes by way of architect Peter Marino, who created an intimate, 800-square-foot space cloaked in shades of Dior gray, from the silk and wool carpet to the walls, which alternate with fabric and mirrors. Sandblasted silver metal fixtures lined with gray silk continue the theme, as does a shaved cowhide love seat and chairs topped with pillows trimmed in beads or ostrich feathers.
The store is next to the Dior clothing and accessories flagship in the Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton East tower, at 17 East 57th Street.
As is the prevailing trend for jewelry stores today, the boutique’s floor-to-ceiling door and windows make for a inviting entrance.
Once past the sophisticated interior, a closer look at the jewelry proves that its designer, Victoire de Castellane, has fun with her craft.
On hand for a walk through the store on Monday morning, de Castellane was dressed in purple platforms, tomato-red opaque tights, a turquoise plaid kilt and a turquoise cashmere T-shirt adorned with a bunny.
“Jewelry should be a part of you, it should move and make you feel good,” said de Castellane. “A woman should feel free and feminine when she wears jewelry and she shouldn’t have to think about whether everyone is wearing only white gold or only one particular stone. Her choices should depend on her hair color, the stones she likes and how she feels.”
Her own picks for the day were a small pile of gold bangles with colored stone charms, gold hoop earrings with dangling diamonds and a pair of jumbo-sized rings — one a carved turquoise flower, the other a half-dollar-sized purple amethyst — all of course, from Dior.
Movement is a central theme to the collection, with many pieces including pearls, diamond or stone charms that gently bounce around on the finger or wrist.
Dior signature motifs also turn up. One series features ribbons and bows, usually crafted into white gold and diamonds, for everything from a tiny, delicate ring to a one-of-a-kind multi-strand white gold, diamond and pink sapphire choker. Two groups refer to Christian Dior himself. His superstitious nature accounts for the high number of good luck charms in bracelets and necklaces. His love of gardening is seen in the whimsy of Milly La Foret, a collection named for his own gardens, which includes flower and vegetable motifs. There is coral carved into a flower for a large ring, tiny cherries dangle from gold and diamond hoop earrings, peas or turnips are crafted into pins. A unique pearl, diamond and emerald necklace looks like a life-size spray of Lily of the Valley, one of Dior’s favorite flowers.
“It looks like it was picked out of the garden and wrapped around a woman’s neck,” said de Castellane.
One of de Castellane’s favorite finishing touches can be seen when a golden lady bug, sometimes covered in diamonds, is hidden under a pin or the back of a necklace.
“I love to make [jewelry with] a little surprise,” she said.
Though there are several one-of-a-kind pieces that can top $600,000, there are many accessibly priced pieces that start at roughly $600.
Several events this week will introduce the store to New Yorkers. After a lunch at Swifty’s this afternoon for 40 of Dior’s apparel clients here, there will be a dinner sponsored by Interview magazine for 70 tonight at Chingalle, a new restaurant. Thursday evening, Dior is underwriting the Boys Club of New York’s annual event, which has been dubbed the Lily of the Valley Ball.

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