High Shine

by Pearlyn Quan

We highlight some of the most exceptional pieces from this year’s haute joaillerie collections from the top jewellery houses.

Not unlike haute couture, high jewellery is a celebration of the elevated art of jewellery design and gem-setting, using only the finest of rare stones. Every year, the new collections seek to push the envelope in terms of delivering groundbreaking designs and techniques, showstopping gemstones, and unparalleled craftsmanship.

This year’s digital unveiling of the latest haute joaillerie collections was no exception – we bring you our selection of the boldest and most brilliant.

Bvlgari – Hope and Joy in the Eternal City

A flourish of movement; a spill of colour; an extravagance of ornamentation – Bvlgari goes baroque, baby, and it’s wild.

The Roman jewellery maison comes full circle with its latest collection Barocko, a celebration of one of the magnificent periods in the history of European art and design.

The Lady Arabesque necklace features emeralds, pink and violet sapphires from Sri Lanka and tiny Paraiba tourmalines set against a swirl of Baroque curls

The Baroque quality of evoking high emotion via grandeur and sensuous richness is marvellously expressed through exquisite pieces featuring rare, exclusive gems sourced from around the world by Lucia Silvestri, Bvlgari jewellery’s creative director.

Inspired by Rome’s Horti Farnesiani complex on the Palatino, the Cabochon Exuberance necklace combines tanzanites sourced in New York, rubellites and emeralds from Jaipur, and aquamarines from Hong Kong

The collection is divided into three themes – Meraviglia (Wonder), Luce (Light) and Colore (Colour). Juicy coloured gems the size of jellies adorn sinuously intricate necklaces; exquisitely crafted pieces call to mind delicate Baroque-era lace fabrics; and precious stones set in graphic combinations put light and movement in play.

Rome has always been integral to the Bulgari’s bold, architectural design sensibility, and this time, the Eternal City returns to play muse with references to its grand iconic Baroque landmarks.

The modern Serpenti Spell bracelet-ring features a sinuous diamond-paved snake, an omnipresent motif in the Baroque aesthetic and an iconic symbol of the Bulgari DNA

The magnificent Fountain of the Four Rivers sculpted by Lorenzo Bernini in 1651, a grand spectacle of action and flowing water, serve as inspiration behind the dramatic grandeur of Barocko – as do other iconic landmarks such as the near church of Sant’Agnese in Agone designed by Francesco Borromini, the Horti Farnesiani complex on the Palatino hill and the bronze statue of Archangel Michael located on the top the Castel Sant’Angelo papal fortress.

Piaget – Flights of Fantasy

The latest high jewellery offering by the Swiss jewellery house delves into the natural wonders of the rainforest, deftly translating the beat of jungle wings and feverish sunsets into absolutely enchanted creations.

Renowned for its long heritage of exquisite technical savoir-faire in handworked details and gemsetting, Piaget presents its Wings of Light collection, which is nothing short of a masterpiece of craftsmanship.

Form and function are seamlessly combined in the Majestic Plume necklace, which can be worn as earrings, an ear cuff, or a pared-back necklace without the feather marquetry element

The Majestic Plumage necklace showcases intense tropical feathers set against a rainbow of differently coloured sapphires and spinel, utilising a painstaking method of feather marquetry by Maître d’Art Nelly Saunier.

The Rainbow Light manchette (or cuff-bracelet) features a central rubellite of 22.68 carats as a setting sun surrounded by golden rays of marquetry

Another noteworthy process unique to this collection is the groundbreaking combination of leather, wood and mother-of-pearl marquetry against handworked rose gold, developed by Rose Saneuil, for the Rainbow Light Set – marking itself out as a new signature of the house. Each tiny piece of wood or calfskin is carefully cut to perfectly fit the outline and shape before being meticulously positioned, taking its specific place to create an effect of rays of light, against rubellites and pink tourmalines.

The Secret Cenote cuff watch is set with 151 baguette-cut sapphires, 71 baguette-cut diamonds, 100 brilliant-cut diamonds, inspired by the seemingly random asymmetry of nature

The Secret Cenote Set within the collection is like a long cool drink after the fierce heat of the day – ‘cenote’ can also mean ‘holy well’ in Spanish, and the cascading diamonds of the necklace and earrings set against cornflower blue Sri Lankan sapphires indeed flow like water. The Cenote cuff watch features the finest black opal from Australia, with a modern asymmetrical design of diamonds and sapphires mimicking the randomness of nature, but absolutely guided by the hands of a master jeweller – in true trademark Piaget style.

Cartier – Supernature in Bloom

French jeweller Cartier takes its starting point for its newest high jewellery collection from nature at its most primal – intensely organic and almost shamanic in its vibrancy.

[Sur]Naturel plays with the concept of visualising the spiritual energy of nature with some of the most precious, archaic and mysterious stones. Diamonds, emeralds and sapphires are combined with opal and kunzite, coral and aquamarine, beryl and quartz in an evocative collection of haute joaillerie pieces.

Smooth opals, cushion-shaped kunzite and a shagreen setting – the play between these gems’ material and shape gives the Hemis necklace an organic, natural and random character

Six standout gemstone creations inhabit a liminal space somewhere between the animal and organic, mimicking patterns in nature – a curl of fern, a sprouting frond, an abstraction of crocodile hide.

Individually shaped and set to resemble polished pebbles, the opals of the striking Hemis necklace boast a wide array of colours, from blue to purple-grey, and a black core. The central gemstone is an intensely pink kunzite of exceptional quality, seemingly pulsating at the heart of this intriguingly irregular design.

The crocodile, a majestic creature from Cartier’s menagerie, is transformed to dazzling effect with Zambian emeralds and kite-shaped diamonds in the Gharial necklace

The Panthère Tropicale Wristwatch is a boldly graphic contrast of colours and materials, with fiery hot coral – an ultra-delicate and notoriously tricky material to work with – taking centre stage. By combining gadrooned coral with yellow gold in a panther motif with aquamarines and tourmalines, Cartier has created a piece that is unique, yet anchored in the stylistic history of the maison, following specifically in the footsteps of its famous former artistic director and tastemaker Jeanne Toussaint.

Alongside the orchid and cactus, the tillandsia has now become part of Cartier’s signature plant family – its spines and prickles are elegantly captured in the Tillandsia necklace using beryl stones and a lattice of paved diamonds

Throughout the collection, natural elements like water, flora and fauna are elevated to dream-like abstraction, creatively intensifying the evocative powers of the specially sourced and selected gemstones with characteristic Cartier flair.


Images courtesy of respective brands featured, artwork by Curatedition. All rights reserved


Related Links:

Van Cleef & Arpels: Shiny Ambitions

Piaget: Shape of Light

Bvlgari: B.zero1 Rock On

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