As the catwalk shows at Haute Couture Week took place behind closed doors in Paris, or were replaced by dreamy, escapist films, the city’s prestigious jewellery maisons unveiled their latest haute joaillerie creations. Some high jewellery collections had been delayed from last July’s showcase, while others were created during lockdown. In both cases, clients and fans welcomed a sparkling dose of beauty and craft virtuosity: salve for the soul in this greyest of winters.
Gabrielle Chanel escaped, broken-hearted, to Venice following the death of her lover Arthur “Boy” Capel in 1920, and the city’s art and architecture became an enduring source of inspiration. The Escale a Venise collection explores La Sérénissime in exquisitely precious form: from the façade of the Doge’s Palace to the winged lion atop Saint Mark’s Basilica, a creature that became Chanel’s talisman. House motifs such as the camellia flower appear alongside playful pieces like the diamond boater’s hat ring, topped with a red-enamel ribbon.
A palette of white diamonds, verdant emeralds and black onyx formed the basis of Boucheron’s Art Deco-inspired high jewellery collection. While the house scoured the archive for inspiration, the results are magnificently modern. A chunky signet ring is worn by a male model, as is a diamond bow that transforms from ring to brooch or bow tie. Necklaces and earrings showcase the sharp geometry so redolent of the roaring ‘20s, while a sautoir of emerald beads is worthy of a modern-day Maharaja.
De Beers’ mission is to inspire consumers about the diversity of diamonds and their origins. Its Reflections of Nature collection juxtaposes rough and polished diamonds in myriad shapes, sizes and colours. Five suites are inspired by the landscapes of diamond-producing countries: from Botswana’s Okavango Delta to the Namib Desert. Rough diamonds are spectacle-set to showcase their organic forms, in contrast to orderly polished stones. Most mesmerising are the coloured diamonds in hues from khaki green to sunset mauve: a celebration of nature’s bounty.
A yellow diamond comet ricocheting around the neck, a 69-carat cabochon sapphire at the centre of a diamond galaxy, luminous chalcedony glowing like a pulsating star: Van Cleef & Arpels looked to the skies for its 120-piece Sous Les Etoiles collection, taking inspiration from poetic interpretations of the cosmos throughout history. A riot of colour and creativity, it showcases exceptional gemstones alongside expert craftsmanship, with mystery-set rubies and sapphires alongside custom-cut lapis lazuli, dotted with diamonds to recreate a midnight sky.
David Morris embraced our increasingly virtual lifestyle by launching its Renaissance high jewellery collection in collaboration with Farfetch.com. Pieces including a showstopping 16ct Paraiba tourmaline cocktail ring and a necklace featuring 380cts of Burmese ruby beads were available to buy online in a high-jewellery first. Despite the cutting-edge launch, the designs were inspired by historic treasures, from Egyptian hieroglyphics to antique jewellery. Old-mine stones and natural pearls feature alongside ultra-rare coloured gemstones, each piece handcrafted in the house’s London workshop.