Five masterpieces from Haute Joaillerie spring 2017
Haute Joaillerie 2017
Every season during Couture Week in Paris, the fine makers of high jewellery gather around the iconic Place Vendôme to offer the world a glimpse at their newest, most dazzling creations. When we weren't busy attending the shows, we were behind closed doors houses such as Chopard, Dior and Chanel, eagerly peering into glass cases filled with sparkling confections — each exquisitely crafted from an assortment of bright white diamonds, pink sapphires, pearls and even the kaleidoscopic opal — to find these true masterpieces of Haute Joaillerie spring 2017.
Simplicity certainly reigned supreme this season, with a high jewellery collection inspired by the house of Chaumet's signature ribbon motif — their recurring symbol for the bond of love. Simple yet undeniably refined, this collection, titled "Insolence," was based on archived pieces dating back to the 1890s, and delivered a sophisticated range of classic shapes, featuring seductive brilliant-cut diamonds and delicately feminine strands of white and pink gold.
But it was in the photo-series by New York-based Karen Collins, scattering the walls of Chaumet salons at 12 Place Vendôme, that sees our favourite masterpiece in complete, sparkling life — a delicate, low-scooping necklace of such simple refinement that it could only stand on its own.
CHOPARD: THE GARDENS OF KALAHARI
While Chaumet took the route of soft refinement, Chopard kicked things up a notch with a collection so exquisitely remarkable and breathtaking that we almost never wanted to leave its presence. Named "The Gardens of Kalahari," this six-piece collection may have been small in number, but what it lacked in sets it certainly made up for in carats.
From one 342-carat rough diamond dubbed the "Queen of Kalahari", came 23 diamonds of such perfect clarity and colour they earned the ranking of "D-Flawless" — a rare find even in the world of high jewellery.
Requiring more than 1 billion years in the making, the Kalahari diamonds found their final setting places in the true definition of a showpiece: A transformable necklace featuring three suspended pendants — a brilliant-cut, a heart-shaped, and a pear-shaped diamond, racking up a combined 101 carats. Now, that's a necklace.
CHANEL: COCO AVANT CHANEL
Chanel's latest collection, "Coco Avant Chanel", pays homage to the women who supported the young Gabrielle Chanel before 1920 — in other words, before her name became synonymous with French fashion. Reimagined through 11 glittering creations, each set represented a woman who had made a significant influence on the designer's life and budding career.
Among others, there were Emilienne, Jeanne, Lucienne, and, of course, Suzanne. She inspired the masterpiece "Suzanne" ring: An 18K white gold set featuring an oval-cut padparadscha sapphire of 6.09 carats, four oval-cut Padparadscha sapphires with a total weight of 3.31 carats, 2 cabochon-cut moonstones and 192 brilliant-cut diamonds for a total weight of 3.02 carats. But, we couldn't have possibly stopped there with our Chanel masterpieces — this season had a tie for favourites.
Because this was one of the most opulent Chanel High Jewellery collections in recent memory, filled with decadent layers of lace and ribbon motifs, we needed to include the "Gabrielle Chanel" necklace. Inspired by the matriarch herself, this asymmetrical diamond lace necklace features demure camellia motifs and appears as if sliced by one of Coco's fabric scissors — a masterpiece if there ever were one, with a total of 1584 diamonds at a staggering 61.95 carats.
BOUCHERON: LIERRE DE PARIS
At Boucheron, this season was all about wild ivy; it flowed from a massive tree exploding through the wooden floorboards of their Place Vendôme salon, into the adjacent rooms and throughout this extravagant range of jewels — often emerging as clever motifs on necklaces, bracelets, and rings.
Titled "Lierre de Paris," or "Ivy of Paris," this collection was another celebration of archival finds dating back to the late 1800s, one being the house's signature question mark necklace. It returned this season as a set of cascading ivy leaves — all in white gold and white diamonds set "en tremblant" (for a mesmerizing trembling effect made with every step) — an elegant heritage masterpiece that shares its place with the accompanying ivy-motif earrings and rings.
DIOR: DIOR ET D'OPALES
Last, but certainly not the least, is Dior and its re-emergence of the kaleidoscopic opal. Fittingly dubbed "Dior et d'Opales", this collection offers a fascinating perspective on artistic director Victoire de Castellane's most favourite stone.
Before seeing this collection, it might have been difficult to imagine the opal as an element of haute joaillerie, but this season's collection of motley stones certainly proved otherwise. Set against a rowdy background of colourful gems, white diamonds or bright gold in the floral "Petit Panache" style, the opal appears in several variations, from majestic milky hues to vibrant rainbow tones.
After viewing this colourful range of bracelets, rings and necklaces, we were prepared to name any number of them as our final masterpieces of the season, but that acclamation could only be given to one: The one-of-a-kind (and borderline gaudy) Exquise Opal High Jewellery Timepiece — a luxurious bracelet of pink and white gold, decadently layered with pink and yellow sapphires, spessartine garnets, purple sapphires and rubies, with a glimmering secret watch hidden behind a pale opal centrepiece.