“I have not really spoken English in more than a year; I’m so happy to be doing so,” said a concierge at the Hotel Ritz as he led the way to the salon where Chaumet was showing its latest high-jewelry collection. “We have missed you in Paris.”
Indeed, the French capital was eager to welcome American clients and editors back for the annual July week of haute-couture and high-jewelry presentations, which was put on hold in 2020 due to the global pandemic. With everyone vaccinated, but still wearing masks out of an abundance of precaution, the hugs were warm and long, while the mix of handcraft and stunning stones from legendary jewelry houses, based in and around the Place Vendôme, did not disappoint. Several collections were edited, spokespeople were quick to note, partly due to an abbreviated timeframe to create one-of-a-kind jewels that typically require up to two years in workshops, though others noted that some pieces had already departed for Cannes, where they were hoping to be seen on some of the world’s most high-wattage celebrities during the 12-day film festival.
That didn’t diminish, however, the abundance of sparkle on display over five days in Paris. Here’s a look at some of the week’s most memorable designs and details:
The oldest jewelry house on Place Vendôme—it’s resided on the famed square in Paris since 1858—is also currently one of the most innovative ateliers from a design perspective. “I wanted to play with the idea of how light and color work together, and from there, I thought about holograms,” explained Boucheron creative director Claire Choisne of her latest high-jewelry pieces.
That’s how Holographique was born, a collection of 25 unique pieces that explored everything from the natural play of light in opals to innovative craft techniques that included layering rock crystal and white ceramic with holographic coatings, courtesy of a partnership with a French company that produces the coating for lights on airport runways. The result was a collection that at times felt wholly futuristic. Though gemstones, like the 71.69-carat oval cabochon white opal from Ethiopia, which adorned a graceful betta fish brooch that also included enamelwork and diamonds set in 18-karat pink gold, served as a constant reminder that stones are still the stars.
This detachable betta fish brooch is set with a 71.69-carat oval cabochon white opal from Ethiopia and a 46.91-carat pear cabochon white opal from Ethiopia and includes diamonds and iridescent enamelwork on 18-karat pink gold and is seen here on a convertible necklace of opal beads totaling 1518.78 carats. Price upon request.
Andrea Buccellati says he was inspired by the colors in Impressionist paintings to create “Il Giardino de Buccellati,” the second high-jewelry collection from the Italian brand, a limited group of one-of-a-kind designs that blend exquisite color combinations with the house’s signature elements. Buccellati’s wide Lilium bracelet featured a 20.11-carat green tourmaline surrounded by pink sapphires and white diamonds, set on a yellow-gold cuff engraved with the house’s brushed “rigato” engraving, while the Bouganville cocktail ring highlighted a 25.85-carat kunzite. It comes on a mounting embellished with 80 faceted tzavorites and 20 round brilliant-cut white diamonds. (Among the week’s trends in high jewelry, cocktail rings were prominent, with more than one house noting that their global rosters of clients have increasingly been requesting them.)
Buccellati Lilium cuff bracelet crafted in 18-karat yellow gold with “rigato” engraving, with a flower-shaped rosette in white gold showcasing a 20.11-carat green tourmaline, surrounded by 36 pink sapphires totaling 2.34 carats, 44 round sapphires totaling .96 carats, and 56 round brilliant-cut diamonds totaling .96 carats. Price upon request.
Organic textures, a tonal approach to color and trompe l’oeil design elements are meant to create optical illusions and challenge the senses in Cartier’s Sixième Sens, or “Sixth Sense,” high-jewelry collection. From the V-shaped Pixelage necklace that blends white, yellow and orange diamonds with onyx and three golden topazes totaling 27.34 carats to the use of black lacquer to create depth and shadow on the fan-like Parhelia ring, which stretches across three fingers and highlights a 21.51-carat deep blue sapphire cabochon at its center. Ultimately these are pieces that are compelling when viewed from any distance, but deserve an up-close examination. Cartier also was among the houses that led another trend of the week: While a pendant on a high-jewelry necklace often detaches to become a brooch, the same can be done with the fan-like Parhelia ring.
Parhelia ring in 18-karat white gold featuring a 21.51-carat sapphire cabochon, surrounded by emeralds, diamonds and black lacquer. Price upon request.
The jewelry house chose a salon at the Hotel Ritz to show its latest collection for a reason: The ultra-luxe hotel offers prime views of the 19th-century Vendôme Column, with Napoleon perched at its top as a symbol of the country’s military victories. Chaumet was inspired by the wrapped, spiraling detail of the 42-meter column to create Torsade de Chaumet, which played with that element in pieces rendered in diamonds and accented with rubies, sapphires or emeralds. This being Chaumet, tiaras are always prominent; founded in 1780, Chaumet created one for its first major client, the Empress Josephine.
Torsade de Chaumet tiara in 18-karat white gold, set with 385 brilliant-cut EF VVS white diamonds totaling 63.63 carats and 156 rose-cut EF VVS white diamonds totaling 23.87 carats. Price upon request.
A partner of the Cannes Film Festival since 1998, the house’s Red Carpet Collection enjoys the spotlight on the Croisette each year—and perhaps no more so than the 2021 edition, with festival attendees eager to embrace glamour amid in a return to a post-pandemic era. While many pieces had already departed for the South of France in this anomaly of a year, in which the week of high-jewelry presentations and the film festival overlapped, co-president and artistic director Caroline Scheufele held some pieces back in Chopard’s Place Vendôme boutique for viewing, including a stunner of a choker that partly took its cue from the house’s Precious Lace collection in the diamonds and goldwork that surrounded the star of the piece, a 23.26-carat fancy vivid yellow diamond.
Scheufele noted that she themed this year’s collection to the idea of paradise. “I wanted our creations to invite women on a journey toward a comforting haven, an imaginary world brimming with dreams and optimism,” she said.
Choker of 18-karat white gold in a lace motif embellished with white diamonds, surrounding a 23.26-carat fancy vivid yellow diamond. Price upon request.
The diamond house debuted its Reflections of Nature high-jewelry collection in January, an exploration of some of the world’s most scenic destinations through pieces that highlight the house’s signature marriage of rough and polished white and colored diamonds. For its July presentation, the maison added new pieces and adjusted existing pieces to create statement cocktail rings, employing sizeable medallions that previously enjoyed life as pendants. The Okavanga Grace ring takes its cue from Botswana’s Okavanga Delta, where you’ll find one of Africa’s greatest concentrations of wildlife.
Featuring a 1.01-carat fancy dark greyish-green diamond at its center stone surrounded by round brilliant white diamonds, the Okavanga Grace ring is edged in 12 bezel-set green and pink rough diamonds, while brilliant white diamonds are also set into the upper shank. Price upon request.
In a salon at the Hotel de Crillon, Valerie Messika juxtaposed the displays of Magnetic Attraction, her latest high jewelry collection, with the key source of its inspiration: Paris-based dancer and choreographer Fanny Sage, who performed on a stage at the center of the room. Messika looks at the celebration of dance and the freedom of movement it represents as something we all should be embracing. How does that translate to high jewelry? Largely working in pear-shaped yellow and white diamonds, Messika designed a collection in which these dazzling stones either seemed to float or dance on the body, courtesy of invisible and articulated settings. In addition to Messika’s signature body jewelry, delicate diamond-accented chains to be worn on the foot, hand or head, in a variety of designs that provide a fitting framework for her spectacular pear-shaped stones, are placed to create a pas de deux between colors and sizes.
Pear Appeal earrings feature 166 diamonds totaling 27.69 carats, including a pair of fancy yellow VS1 and VS2 pear-cut diamonds totaling 13.24 and 12.45 carats, topped by two natural E VVS1 pear-cut diamonds totaling 1.01 carats, surrounded by a framework of 18-karat rose gold embellished with 162 brilliant-cut diamonds totaling .99 carats. Price up on request.
At the jewelry house’s Rue de la Paix salon, Piaget showcased its love of light and the effect it has on diamonds and gemstones. The Extraordinary Lights high-jewelry collection explores this idea via parures in three chapters: the sparkle of festive lights, the magic of natural lights (like the glow of aurora borealis), and the unique glow of morning light when night transitions to dawn. These ideas were seen in everything from the Magical Aurora necklace, highlighting an emerald-cut Colombian emerald totaling 16.84 carats, surrounded by baguette- and brilliant-cut diamonds and marquise-cut emeralds, all set in 18-karat white gold, or the Blazing Night ear cuff, set with five pear-shaped rubies from Mozambique, surrounded by baguette- and brilliant-cut diamonds on 18-karat white gold.
And with convertible jewels key to many high-jewelry collections, one fresh-from-the-workshop stunner may top them all: the Extraordinary Nights necklace, with an 8.88-carat yellow diamond and 3.61-carat pear-shaped spinel in front and a 5.34-carat Sri Lankan blue sapphire designed to dangle down the back—or turn it from back to front as one of the nine ways this piece can be worn.
Extraordinary Nights earrings featuring two cushion-cut yellow diamonds totaling 3.13 and 3.02 carats, accented with a pair of pear-shaped Tanzanian pink spinels totaling approximately 2.55 carats, as well as round-cut red spinels and spessartites, brilliant-cut yellow diamonds, and marquise- and brilliant-cut white diamonds, all set in 18-karat white gold. Price upon request.
La Gioia by Pomellato is just the second high-jewelry collection by the Italian house, and for its presentation at the Hotel de Crillon, creative director Vincenzo Castaldo explored an old-meets-new approach in a way that was unique and wholly refreshing. He started by taking archive pieces and combining and reinterpreting them to create new one-of-a-kind designs, in keeping with current upcycling trends that’s been so prevalent in fashion and, recently, watches. Yellow- and rose-gold chains from 1996 and 2008 collections, for example, were accented with a sizeable turquoise crafted to evoke the look of a Japanese coin, meant to be worn asymmetrically, with a T-bar clasp as its closure.
“It was a deeply personal voyage into the treasures of our past,” Castaldo said. “The collection came together in a fun, spontaneous way. It was wonderful to find such a seamless interaction and natural harmony between pieces from Pomellato’s past and present.”
One-of-a-kind T-Chain Haiku Turquoise necklace in 18-karat yellow and rose gold highlights a Japanese coin shape carved in turquoise, through which a T-shaped jet forms the closure. A pair of additional coin shapes are set with diamond pavé. Price upon request.
Van Cleef & Arpels
Van Cleef & Arpels celebrated its own considerable history with dance, starting with the ballerina brooches the house has been crafting since the 1940s. Claude and Pierre Arpels, sons of the firm’s founders, were ballet fans and friends of legendary choreographer George Balanchine. Alongside a display of some of the most celebrated ballerinas from the Van Cleef & Arpels archives—including a dancer created during World War II, the rubies, sapphires and diamonds on her dress signifying the colors of the French flag and intended as a subtle reference to the French Resistance—the jeweler debuted a trio of new ballerinas, each featuring a face of a faceted diamond..
While the introduction of new Van Cleef & Arpels ballerinas is expected, the jeweler added another layer to this year’s debuts, choosing the moment to also highlight its devotion to artistic collaborations with dance companies around the globe. “Dance Reflections by Van Cleef & Arpels” is a concept that will celebrate the jeweler’s ongoing relationship with companies like the Opera de Lyon Ballet, which kicked off in mid-June with a performance of choreographed solo performances made possible with the house’s support.
Crafted in 18-karat yellow and white gold, the Camille ballerina clip features a diamond face topped by a crown of yellow sapphires, a ballet costume in white diamonds and a tutu embellished with snow-set emeralds, white diamonds to represent the tulle of the underskirt, and ballet shoes in yellow sapphires. Price upon request.