Innovation as a challenge for JEWELRY

As the fashion world struggles through another pandemic-era couture season, the high jewelry presentations that traditionally accompany it during this period are more restrained than usual.

Some major houses such as Van Cleef & Arpels, Bulgari and Chanel have postponed events until the next couture week, in July. But other houses, such as Cartier, De Beers, Boucheron, Dior and Louis Vuitton have been holding appointment-only viewings for clients and press to see their collections in this period. And while some lines are limited to a handful of parures, there are firsts among the debuts as well as several notable transformable jewels, a trend in high jewelry that continues to grow.

At De Beers, a collection called The Alchemist of Light explores themes of fluidity and reflection. The first collection completed since the arrival of its new chief executive, Céline Assimon, in September 2020, it is also the brand’s first to incorporate titanium, a hardy yet lightweight metal more commonly used in high watchmaking than high jewelry. And the Light Rays transformable necklace in one of those parures seems to signal a new direction for the formerly traditional house. 

For his high jewelry debut, Chaumet’s creative director, Ehssan Moazen, explored a water theme in the collection Déferlante, which means “breaker,’’ highlighting asymmetrical swells of diamonds in bead and bezel settings. Its eight pieces include a tiara, the house signature, that was inspired by archival drawings from the belle epoque. It resembles a stylized wave, with graduated diamonds breaking into sprays of princess, brilliant, square and baguette-cut diamonds.

At Boucheron, the house revisited one of the most extravagant special commissions in the history of Place Vendôme. The house’s creative director, Claire Choisne, also played with scale. The New Padma earrings are composed of a pair of pear-cut diamond studs and a behind-the-ear piece. 

For Victoire de Castellane, the artistic director of Dior Joaillerie, couture is a recurring inspiration that she has explored in previous collections. In Galons Dior, a collection name that refers to the braid trim often used in fashion, she has worked references to the volume and movement of fabric into 81 pieces of jewelry.

Other jewelry houses are using the season to add new pieces to existing collections. Building on its Sixième Sens group, Cartier plans to unveil the collection’s second and third chapters: a total of 50 new jewels. These include the transformable Synesthésie necklace in platinum, set with a hexagonal Colombian emerald weighing more than 35 carats. A design that used the supple “articulated lace” technique, which makes metal settings inconspicuous, it features a cascade of diamonds and turquoise and emerald beads. The center motif and tassel are interchangeable and both can be worn as brooches.

In 1925, Cartier showed the ornament Bérénice at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris. Now, almost a century later, the piece was the inspiration for the Victorienne necklace, a geometric array of diamonds.

Louis Vuitton, which is celebrating the bicentennial of its founder’s birth, is introducing the second chapter in its high jewelry collection Bravery. The locks, buckles, studs and corner pieces of the house’s signature trunks were the inspiration for 20 pieces in precious metals and colored gems. A cushion-cut yellow sapphire weighing more than 20 carats hangs from a V in baguette diamonds on the flamboyant Magnétisme necklace of pink, orange and yellow tourmalines interspersed with brilliant-cut diamonds. The sapphire, mounted in a rectangular frame, may be removed and worn on a chain.

In the same vein, Piaget is expanding on its Extraordinary Lights collection with a second act of three parures, in diamonds with tourmalines, emeralds or sapphires. The Voluptuous Borealis necklace is to be presented with a matching ring and earrings, a diamond ear cuff and a jeweled watch.

Most independent designers seem to be sitting this season out. But despite travel restrictions that have kept her at home in Taiwan, Cindy Chao is among the few who decided to unveil new work in Paris during these times. Her seven-piece presentation includes Black Label Masterpiece earrings in titanium set with emerald-cut fancy dark brown-yellow diamonds surrounded by gradient diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, alexandrites and garnets.

Ms. Chao has called Paris her “inspiration city”: She recently established a subsidiary here and has been finalizing plans for a showroom designed by the Dutch architect Tom Postma, scheduled to open later this year.

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