Fine jewellery is timeless, and every season brings with it a wave of one-of-a-kind treasures that push the boundaries of innovation and ingenuity. In the past, white diamonds used to dominate high jewellery, but now brightly-coloured precious gemstones are taking the spotlight as leading jewellery houses celebrate art, diversity and colour in their latest offerings.
A house where colour is now integral to the design of fine jewellery is London-based Graff Diamonds, which made news at Baselworld 2014 when it presented the Hallucination watch, priced at US$55 million. The timepiece was encrusted with rare fancy-coloured diamonds that ranged from pink and blue to yellow and orange. Fast-forward to the present and Graff is now inspired by the abstract expressionism of contemporary art. The latest collection is a series of colourful, energetic jewellery that mirrors the freely scribbled paintings of American artist Cy Twombly, and features rivers of diamonds undulating across necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings – sometimes interspersed with rubies.
With nearly 240 years of history under its belt, Chaumet has always looked globally for inspiration. The Parisian maison recently unveiled Trésors d’Afrique, the finale to the jeweller’s three-part Mondes de Chaumet high-jewellery range. Previous collections showcased Russian and Japanese influences, and this time it’s sub-Saharan Africa. It was the chance sighting of the work of Kenyan artist Evans Mbugua in a little-known gallery that gave birth to Trésors d’Afrique, which celebrates the continent’s landscape, fauna and traditions. The collection plays with colour, geometric patterns and materials, with exotic pieces ranging from ebony cuffs and a pink opal elephant brooch to beaded necklaces, bracelets and an earrings set featuring emeralds, sapphires and red spinels.
Another house inspired by art is Roman jeweller Bulgari. Its brazen Wild Pop collection pays homage to the works of Andy Warhol and pop artists from the 1980s. More than 80 pieces celebrate the free spirit, empowerment and experimentation of that era. Colour takes centre stage in this stunning collection whose designs are built on the brand’s established signatures, as well as unusual and surprising combinations of bright gemstones. If you love flashy pieces, you’ll be drooling over the delightful Eggs necklace that sparkles with citrine, amethysts, rubellite, chalcedony and diamonds.
Chanel began making its mark in high jewellery when Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel unveiled her first jewellery collection in the 1930s and today almost all the maison’s jewellery references the designer’s favourite things. The 2018 Coromandel high-jewellery collection, which features 59 pieces, is inspired by the screens in her apartment and is divided into three themes – floral, animal and mineral. The collection utilises niche techniques and materials, from lacquering and beading to mother-of-pearl marquetry, to distinguish the colour and materials used.
A master jeweller that never shies away from using provocative gemstones is the near-legendary maison Cartier, whose unabashed use of multicoloured and exotic gemstones has become a trademark. Its latest 240-piece Coloratura collection explores the rich cultures of Asia and Africa through a palette of multi- coloured hues. The Holika suite of jewels from this collection pays tribute to the Hindu spring festival Holi, in which revellers drench each other with coloured paint. Holika pieces feature acid-bright tourmaline and chrysoberyl beads, threaded together like pearls and then mounted on to voluminous hoop earrings, bracelets and rings, crowned with juicy rubellites.
Christian Dior believes that if imagination and supreme precision are applied, haute couture and jewels go hand in hand. The latest collection, dubbed Dior, Dior, Dior, pays tribute to the fabrics used in couture clothing, especially lace. De Castellane’s roving imagination is interpreted through a rainbow of candy-coloured stones, strewn delightfully across an intricate lacework of gold, in necklaces, bracelets and rings, to form miniature petals or tendrils that creep through and around the hand-worked honeycomb setting.
Drawing from archival styles, the Winston Cluster collection from Harry Winston features marquise pear-shape diamonds, combined with emeralds, rubies and sapphires, set in platinum. The range was inspired by decorative Christmas wreaths after the founder, often referred to as “jeweller to the stars”, was mesmerised by the elegant shapes created by glistening snow on holly garlands. Today, the Winston Cluster is still one of the brand’s most famous lines. This year’s collection features pendants and earrings with emeralds, rubies and sapphires, that showcase timeless designs while honouring its place in Hollywood history.
Piaget’s Sunlight Escape collection plays with the colourful spectrum of light to encapsulate the beauty of nature. The jewels here boast an abundance of creativity that gushes with blinding hues, exciting forms and marriages of materials. Among the extraordinary pieces are the Blazing Sky transformable necklace, strung on white opal beads and featuring a gorgeous pendant of spinels, rubies, spessartite garnets and pink sapphires that radiate to a wave of blue Paraiba tourmalines and diamonds. A detachable pear-shape Mozambique Paraiba tourmaline drips from its tip, making this necklace a head-turner.
Turning poetic vision into priceless jewellery is Van Cleef & Arpels. The Parisian maison is known for its narration of the compelling storylines that lie behind its whimsical collections. Its latest Quatre Contes de Grimm collection is a romantic bejewelled interpretation of four fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm. With vibrant hues and gems of all shapes and sizes, each piece in the collection embodies the themes and storylines of a particular tale. Especially desirable is the Panache Mystérieux clip, set with round-and baguette-cut diamonds as well as blue, mauve and yellow sapphires, which utilises the maison’s trademarked Mystery Set technique to create an interplay of light between the stones.
For those who intend on making grand entrances, jewellery from Chopard’s Red Carpet collection fits the bill perfectly. The Geneva-based jeweller, which is inextricably linked with the Cannes Film Festival, is known for its glamorous high-carat stones: each year, the house creates the festival’s Palme d’Or trophies and dominates the red-carpet jewellery. An Oriental aura surrounds some of the larger jewels in the latest Red Carpet collection, including the Feather Necklace, a statement piece that’s inspired by the native costumes of the Mongolian plains. Sculpted in gold, it features a swirl of blue apatites, violet garnets and red jasper set in a feathered collar.
A celebration of Tiffany & Co.’s influence on gems and rare stones can be found in the Paper Flowers collection was inspired by the idea of petals, cut from paper and delicately pinned together. It blooms with sapphires and tanzanite, a gemstone that Tiffany & Co. introduced to the world in 1968; and white and yellow diamonds for which the company is famous. The new collection runs the gamut from a bib necklace set with 68 carats of diamonds to openwork cocktail rings and pendants.
Read the full story in Prestige Hong Kong October 2018 issue