The traditional houses may have had to present their 2020 high jewellery collections virtually this year, but they are as exquisite and exuberant as ever. From Piaget’s kaleidoscopic homage to exoticism and Cartier’s abstract-meets-figurative-meets-naturalism jewels to the aesthetically-perfect architecture-inspired collection from Chaumet, these exceptional pieces are a welcome reminder that joy and beauty do still exist in the world. We’ve handpicked the most dazzling for this season.
The world went into lockdown just as most houses were putting the finishing touches to their 2020 jewellery collections, which left them with a double quandary: how on earth would they complete these time-intensive, handcrafted jewels, let alone present them to clients who were unable to travel? By its very nature jewellery is best appreciated in person, but thanks to technical ingenuity and creative thinking, many managed to excite and inspire from afar.
The Barocko High Jewellery Collection by Bulgari
Some creative directors shared their inspirations via webcasts, following up with one-to-one video calls with VIP clients. Others invested in slick behind-the-scenes videos, allowing clients a close-up look at the jewels as well as the craftsmanship involved in their making. Bulgari launched an invitation-only app for its Barocko collection, allowing VIPs to try pieces on via augmented reality and register interest with a few swipes of their phone.
Selling high jewellery has always been about personalised service and relationships – and as we are all forced to connect in a different way, the industry will adapt. After all, the very existence of these exceptional pieces is a welcome reminder that joy and beauty do still exist in the world.
Bulgari Platinum, ruby and diamond earrings, platinum, ruby and diamond ring. and platinum and diamond necklace; all POA
The Italian jeweller pays homage to the grandeur of the Eternal City in Barocko, a jewellery collection ripe with the flamboyant flourishes of baroque art and architecture. Taking inspiration from the mosaic ceilings of Italian Basilicas, the voluptuous work of 18th-century sculptors and the intricate patterns of antique lace, the collection is a decadent feast of coloured gemstones and sumptuous goldwork. Lavishly decorated bib necklaces, magnificent coloured-stone cocktail rings and exquisitely ornate earrings are, like baroque art itself, designed to inspire awe: an unashamedly exuberant, joyful escape from the everyday.
Cartier’s [Sur]Naturel collection is a fresh interpretation of an age-old theme. Far from naturalistic 19th-century jewels, these are abstract, almost psychedelic representations of animals and plant life. Polished, pebble-like black opals hint at a panther’s spots, a motif Cartier first introduced in 1914. The riotous Panthère Tropicale cocktail ring combines diamond and onyx-spotted ‘fur’ with sculpted coral and colour-clashing aquamarines. Articulated diamond-set gold is used to call to mind an undulating ocean and a sinuous snake: the latter complete with onyx dorsal ridge and a 53.94ct emerald head.
Natural Harmony necklace in 18kt white gold with Colombian emeralds and diamonds; POA
Feather marquetry that recreates the plumage of an exotic bird is among the highlights of Piaget’s Wings of Light collection, inspired by the colours of a tropical rainforest. Exceptional, rare gemstones were chosen for their specific shades – from the deep blue Sri Lankan sapphires that reflect the waters of sacred Mexican cenotes, to the rich Colombian emeralds that capture verdant forest canopies. It took years to source precisely matched stones, and, in the case of two sizeable pink Tanzanian spinels, the results are a gemstone collector’s dream.
Gourmette Caméléon choker in 18kt rose gold with coloured gemstones; POA
What could be more apt for 2020 than a rainbow of coloured gemstones: 1,798 in total, wrapping the neck in 27 different shades? It’s fitting that this Gourmette Caméléon choker was the first piece that Pomellato’s creative director Vincenzo Castaldo laid eyes on when he returned to the workshop post-lockdown. It’s the star of the 53-year-old house’s debut high jewellery collection, which celebrates Pomellato’s design signatures, from chains and coloured gemstones to its sweetie-like ‘Nudo’ cut. Named La Gioia, meaning joy, the collection’s blend of wearability and preciousness is joy-making indeed.
Skyline ring in 18kt gold with a 7.34ct Asscher-cut diamond; POA
Jewellers’ and architects’ mission is to make complex constructions aesthetically beautiful; one that’s accomplished in Perspectives de Chaumet, the 240-year-old Parisian house’s new architecture-inspired collection. Six chapters and 81 pieces run the gamut from textured, sculptural gold – an ode to celebrated designer Pierre Sterlé – to intricate webs of fil couteau (knife edge) gold within which gemstones seem to float. Techniques from the past are used in boldly contemporary pieces, and gold is folded, articulated, fragmented and manipulated with seemingly effortless ease: testament to the skills of Chaumet’s craftspeople.
Avant Le Frisson necklace in 18kt white gold and titanium with diamonds; POA
While other jewellers raid gemstone fairs, Boucheron’s Claire Choisne looks beyond mineralogy to other industries entirely. Like aeronautics, where she discovered aerogel, a practically weightless synthetic material that’s used by NASA to collect space dust. In Contemplation, Boucheron’s new high jewellery collection, she captures it beneath rock crystal like a pure drop of intangibly blue sky. The collection aims to preserve fleeting moments of nature: from a murmuration of starlings to the moment before a dandelion’s seeds fly away. By blending cutting-edge technology with traditional goldsmithing techniques, Choisne reinvents the rules of high jewellery for a new generation of magpies.
Gingko earrings in ethical 18kt rose gold with yellow sapphires, tsavorites and emeralds; POA
The 2020 Cannes Film Festival may have been called off, but that didn’t stop Chopard from creating 73 exceptional jewels, one for every year of the festival’s existence. This year’s Red Carpet Collection includes classically beautiful jewels that would look at home on any A-list starlet – a necklace set with 90 carats of heart-shaped diamonds is particularly arresting – alongside more contemporary creations inspired by flora and fauna. A pair of gingko-leaf chandelier earrings, strung with 33 carats of pear-cut emeralds, bring an organic outlook to red-carpet jewellery.