Join us for our weekly BAJ:Insight on the latest industry trends by Rachael Taylor, a freelance journalist who writes about jewellery for a number of titles, including The Financial Times, The Jewellery Editor and Retail Jeweller. In her 10 years reporting on the industry, she has travelled the globe to visit key industry fairs, descended a Fairtrade gold mine on top of a Peruvian mountain, toured silver jewellery factories in Thailand, and regularly has access to the most sparkling jewels and people in the business.
As the Fashion Weeks draw to a close, I’m casting my mind back to the high jewellery collections launched during Paris Couture Week – a far more important moment in the fashion calendar for fine jewellery.
It is held twice a year, in January and July, and this summer, like many other journalists, I hopped on the Eurostar to attend the presentations. It was a hot couple of days zipping round Place Venôme and further afield in the city, but a wonderful chance to get up close to some of the most spectacular haute joaillerie the industry has to offer. After examining and trying on hundreds of jewels, here are my highlights from what is becoming the most important moment in the calendar for high jewellery.
The Chinese designer teamed up with auction house Christies to run a private sale at The Ritz. The hero of the showcase was her Monet necklace set with 1,500 coloured gemstones. Her father is a stone dealer and had gifted her the gems to start her business. She returned with a single piece of jewellery. I can only imagine his face…
The Hiver Impérial collection was inspired by the frozen Russian landscape. This Flocon necklace is made of a key material used throughout the collection – rock crystal. I love how it captures the beauty of a snowflake. It also breaks down into seven parts, transforming into a ring, a pair of earrings, a fibula and hair accessories.
Certainly the most fun of the showcases, the Flying Cloud collection was presented in a ship-shape setting complete with rushing ocean sounds, oversized anchors and a faux beach. The jewels were literal interpretations of nautical motifs like sail or tattoos and Breton stripes. Can you guess what this one is? That’s right, a lapis lazuli, diamond and white gold life float.
I always look forward to my appointment with Dior during Couture Week. You never know what you’re going to get from creative director Victoire de Castellane, but it’s always wild. Dior à Versailles was no exception as it attempted to demonstrate every type of jewellery craftsmanship available in Paris. This bracelet is a beautiful clash of different stones, cuts and settings.
The Chaumet est un Fête collection was a celebration of classical music experiences in Milan, New York, Vienna and England’s Glyndebourne. Each had a distinct personality and which you like best says a lot about yours. As a Scot living in England, I have to go for the eccentric emerald and lacquer Pastorale Anglaise necklace with its tartan Scottish knot.
De Beers Diamond Jewellery is the retail brand of diamond miner De Beers, and as such, it only works with diamonds. This can often make its collections devoid of colour, but the new Lotus line was given a chromatic jolt with coloured diamonds. I love the way this ring mixes rough and polished diamonds, as well as different cuts and colours.
I love discovering gemstones that I’ve never heard of before, and at Couture it was Nirav Modi that allowed me to feel that thrill. The gem was a 2.7ct Kornerupine, an electric-green stone. It was set into cocktail ring surrounded by large, inversely set white diamonds and dotted with tiny green diamonds.
The Italian designer has a day job at Richemont as creative director (no small job), but he has also been designing under his own name. His latest creations are total glamour, with stones and price tags to match. This pink opal and amethyst triple-strand necklace makes me think of a mythical princess from a long-forgotten age.
I’m going to stray slightly off theme here with a watch, but it is the metalwork that attracts me. Part of the Sunlight Journey collection, which pays homage to the light on the Amalfi coast, this white gold watch references that jagged coastline. I love the textured white gold of the cliffs contrasting (and encroaching on) a lapis lazuli ocean dial.
Van Cleef & Arpels
It is nearly impossible to pick a single piece from the new Le Secret collection as each was unique and equally mesmerising. Rather than focusing on a particular style, the theme of the collection was that each jewel should hide a secret. Like this brooch, which can be spun to show a swan or a dancer.