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High jewellery takes inspiration from nature, architecture and art

Russell Marino Soh
Russell Marino Soh • 10 min read
High jewellery takes inspiration from nature, architecture and art
The Coeur de Paris necklace is the centrepiece of Louis Vuitton's Awakened Hands, Awakened Minds collection (Picture: Louis Vuitton)
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The latest high jewellery collections are in — and boy, are they beautiful.

Similar to 2023, brands are eschewing the traditional Paris debuts for more exotic locales to better showcase their collections. A number of this year’s haute joaillerie shows took place across Europe, with presentations held everywhere from Monaco to Venice and Vienna. 

Tying in with this variety of settings is a spread of high jewellery creations both influenced by and reminiscent of Europe’s myriad facets. Architecture, art, and nature are key inspirations, interpreted through innovative forms far beyond regular strands and hoops.

Boucheron

The waters of Iceland form the backdrop for Boucheron’s collection, entitled Or Bleu. Creative director Claire Choisne created 26 pieces that emulate the infinite forms of water — frozen, liquid, still, moving and everything in between — with plays on lightness, darkness, transparency and opacity running through the collection.

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The Ondes parure, a set of two rings and a necklace, beautifully mimics the waves created when a drop falls into a body of water. Rock crystal is shaped into perfect rounds with gentle ripples and grooves, then set with white gold and diamonds. The necklace, which required 5,050 hours to construct, has 4,542 round-cut diamonds set beneath the rock crystal, further enhancing the piece’s transparency.

Choisne then focused on the inky hues of Icelandic waters in the Eau d’Encre parure, comprising a bracelet and ring. Obsidian adds a stark blackness to the pieces, offset by white gold and snow-set diamonds. Three-dimensional waves have been sculpted from the volcanic glass in the bracelet, reminiscent of the choppy flows of the sea.

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The Sable Noir triptych continues the juxtaposition of colours, comprising a necklace, cuff and pair of earrings. Borrowing a technique from the automotive industry, black sand is compacted, 3D-printed, and then bound with polymer for a wonderfully dark, subtly textured effect. This is the second time Boucheron has employed such an unusual material in a high jewellery creation; in 2015, sand from the Thar Desert was used in a necklace. 

Cartier

For its Nature Sauvage collection, Cartier turned to the animal kingdom for inspiration. Building on the expressiveness of animals, the collection “plays with graphics, with volume and optical illusions, blending into an imaginary landscape”, says Jacqueline Karachi, director of high jewellery creation at Cartier. 

The first chapter of Nature Sauvage comprises 87 high jewellery pieces that showcase the Maison’s sense of adventure and flair for the dramatic. Illustrating this exactly is the Panthère Jaillissante: a white gold panther, with pavé diamonds on its body interspersed by spots of sapphire. The elegant feline, which forms a fully articulated bracelet that tapers into a ring, guards an 8.63-carat emerald from Zambia.

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The story behind the Koaga necklace and earrings becomes apparent as soon as one focuses on the set — those black-and-white stripes are immediately reminiscent of zebras’ unique markings. The mixture of onyx and white gold is boldly graphic, an effect that is boosted by brilliant- and emerald-cut diamonds. At the end of the necklace is an emerald-cut diamond and a 6.25-carat pear-shaped rubellite, both hanging from the “mouth” of the zebra.

Another familiar animal in Cartier’s repertoire — this time of the feathered variety — is the flamingo, which has been reimagined for the Celestun necklace. The flamingo’s white diamond body is contrasted against yellow diamond eyes, as well as a beak of rose gold and black lacquer. Emeralds and aquamarines emulate the bird’s habitat; below, a 38.5-carat aquamarine anchors the piece. 

Chaumet

Presented in three “movements” — music, dance and magic — Chaumet’s collection, Chaumet en Scène, draws from the world of art in various forms. Nine parures make up the collection, with a total of 39 pieces. 

The largest parure in Chaumet en Scène, Voltige, comprises a necklace, tiara, ring, timepiece and a pair of earrings. Part of the “magic” movement, Voltige is intended to mimic the fun of acrobatics, with lines of white gold and diamonds seeming to float atop one’s body; this effect is particularly apparent in the tiara. And just like the most expert performers, the pieces are flexible; the necklace can be taken from three rows to one, while the earrings can be worn as drops or studs. 

Chaumet’s mastery of colour and form is best displayed in the Tango parure. The necklace, in particular, arrests attention, not only for the 46.39-carat pear-shaped indicolite at its centre but also the spirals curving around an array of rubellites and tourmalines that frame it. Set in white gold with brilliant-cut diamonds across the spirals, the interplay of shapes and curves makes this piece impossible to forget.

Another striking set, also in the “dance” movement, is the Ballet parure. Here, a necklace, ring and pair of earrings are rendered in white gold, diamonds and sapphires. Unique petal shapes — fully articulated in the necklace — add a sense of movement to each piece, which is further elevated by dégradé pavé sapphires and diamonds.

Pomellato

For its 51-piece collection, The Dualism of Milan, Pomellato took inspiration from the eponymous Italian city. Creative director Vincenzo Castaldo says he wanted to “convey the spirit of the city, a mix of rationalist architecture, skyscrapers with their sinuous lines, the night-time atmosphere of the shopping arcades”.

The collection is presented in two parts: Milan’s Monochromatic Treasures and Milanese Colour Prism, with the former showing off the city’s subtle elegance and the latter focusing on its more effervescent, exuberant qualities.

Clean cuts and muted tones take centre stage in Milan’s Monochromatic Treasures. For instance, the Il Salotto di Milano necklace comprises a rose gold chain that brings the eye down to a glowing display of pavé grey sapphires, culminating with a 20.37-carat grey-green tourmaline.

The refined edge carries through to the Asimmetrico parure, which consists of five pieces, including two variants each of a choker and a cuff — one with pavé diamonds swirling throughout the rose gold plates and the other with a full pavé (this version of the choker contains a whopping 2,924 diamonds).

Over in Milan Colour Prism, as its name suggests, colour is key, with many of the pieces featuring gems in multiple hues. Among these is the Gemme Superlative necklace, with stones of what feels like nearly every colour in the rainbow: tanzanite, orange garnet, aquamarine, red and pink spinels, peridot, yellow tourmalines, indigolite, rubellites and morganite. Each gem is set in pavé stones in matching hues for a gorgeous tone-on-tone effect.

Dior

Diorama & Diorigami is a two-part collection by Victoire de Castellane, artistic director of Dior Joaillerie. The first half, Diorama, has been released as an invitation to partake in a “gentle stroll through the garden of Milly-la-Forêt”. This chapter dives deep into the beauty of flora and fauna, with pieces also drawing from Dior’s classic toile de Jouy motif.

The highlight of the collection is the Forêt Enchantée necklace. Surrounding the centre stone, a 16.16-carat emerald, are a swan, rabbit, squirrel and a trio of does, all crafted from chrysoprase. A total of 1,300 gems — smaller emeralds, tsavorites, yellow sapphires, diamonds and cultured pearls — are set in yellow gold on this jaw-dropping piece. A matching ring and pair of earrings complete the set.

Furthering the nature-inspired vibe of Diorama are multicoloured creations that conjure up images of fairytale gardens and forests. One such piece is a necklace combining diamonds, emeralds, yellow and pink sapphires and tsavorites to form flowers, leaves and branches, all anchored by a deep green pear-cut stone.

The intricacies of the toile de Jouy are highlighted in detailed pieces featuring expertly twisted gold and precisely placed gems. One set takes the simple pairing of yellow gold and diamonds and elevates it to a new level. In the necklace, the stones are set to form flowers and leaves, framed by delicate wisps of gold that add dimension. The ring, meanwhile, has a rabbit in diamonds and gold holding a white pearl flower.

Louis Vuitton

Francesca Amfitheatrof’s sixth high jewellery collection as artistic director for watches and jewellery at Louis Vuitton is the Maison’s largest to date, with a staggering 220 pieces set across 13 themes. The first 11 themes in Awakened Hands, Awakened Minds were released last month, with 100 pieces integrating classic house codes with the beauty of 19th-century France.

The centrepiece of Awakened Hands, Awakened Minds is the Coeur de Paris necklace. For this showstopping piece, Amfitheatrof drew from the Eiffel Tower. At the crux of the necklace is a 56.23-carat orangey-pink diamond. Surrounded by baguette- and trilliant-cut diamonds, as well as rods of pink gold, the centre stone can also be worn separately as a brooch. Twenty-six LV Monogram Star-cut diamonds line the necklace, with another 5.73-carat stone in the middle.

Another standout in the collection is the Vision necklace, which features platinum, yellow gold, and yellow sapphires. A nod to Louis Vuitton’s long trunk-making history, the necklace echoes the rivets of the Maison’s trunks in a design taking 2,504 hours to execute. Sitting at the centre of this articulated piece are two octagonal-cut yellow sapphires, with one at 13.47 carats and the other at 11.79 carats. 

Architecture is the name of the game in the Optimisme choker, a daring yet sophisticated arrangement of baguette-cut diamonds set in interlocking platinum and yellow gold. The subtle interplay of colours elevates the diamonds’ shine while adding a playful, youthful quality to the piece.

Chopard

Contes de Fées, Chopard’s ode to the world of fairytales, is the latest red carpet collection by co-president and artistic director Caroline Scheufele. The collection is rich in youthful exuberance, mixing childlike wonder with technical brilliance and the unfettered beauty of gemstones. First displayed at the Cannes Film Festival in May, a selection was shown at the Place Vendôme in Paris during Paris Couture Week.

Inspired by oak trees, a necklace is crafted from ethical rose gold and titanium, with leaves of tsavorite, flowers of briolette-cut yellow sapphires, and acorns sculpted from titanium; diamonds, emeralds and demantoids complete the piece. The interlacing of materials adds a touch of whimsy while further cementing the organic inspiration.

Two rings highlight Chopard’s craftsmanship range. A 17.71-carat rubellite sits atop a yellow gold ring, flanked by two emeralds and held by titanium frogs that have been tinted green; more rubellites, as well as diamonds in both white and yellow, frame the centre stone, providing additional brilliance. In the second ring, an angel is sculpted from white gold; its arms are covered in pavé diamonds, and its wings are made of diamond-studded watermelon tourmaline.

A heart pendant presents a softer look in the collection. Crafted in white gold and set on a chain of briolette-cut diamonds, the pendant combines blue and pink sapphires with diamonds to form dainty, pastel-toned flowers. A pair of matching earrings continues this mix of gems, along with the pavé diamond heart border.

 

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