Having captured the imagination of jewellers and designers for centuries, flowers are back in full bloom within the garden of these jewellers’ oeuvres. While the starting point for each collection is nature, they’re all marked by different personalities as unique as the woman wearing them.
Artists and designers have long been inspired by the bounties of nature, flowers in particular.
In the 19th century, during the Victorian era, flowers formed a language of their own. It became fashionable for young ladies to study the words of Charlotte de la Tour’s 1852 tome, The Language of Love, where she wrote that each flower symbolised a different meaning and emotion. These blooms were immortalised in the form of jewellery, and as you can imagine, many a young woman dreamt of receiving a floral jewel from her paramour as he declared his undying love for her.
While flowers have since been depicted in various forms over the centuries – from the realistic depictions from the Victorian era to the abstract and surreal ones of the Art Nouveau genre – they never quite lost their allure as an endless source of inspiration for jewellery designers.
In the 20th century, they reached their peak in the 1970s during the flower power era, and while they never quite disappeared from our wardrobes, they seem to be making a definitive comeback this year. As international brands such as Van Cleef & Arpels, Bvlgari, Tiffany & Co and Chaumet are once again harnessing inspiration from the world of flowers, these blooms are no longer associated with femininity and daintiness – in fact, they’re an ode to empowerment and individuality, and to living life on your own terms.
We round up the different floral-inspired jewels blossoming at these international brands:
Tiffany & Co Paper Flowers
All eyes were on Reed Krakoff as he launched his first jewellery collection for Tiffany & Co earlier this year. No surprise, as the American jeweller had pulled a bold move by hiring the former accessory designer as its chief artistic officer in 2017. His first year at the jewellery house saw him completely re-engineer the Tiffany & Co identity, transforming it from a majestic, storied American stalwart to one that’s youthful and reimagined for today’s conscious consumers.
Just check out the campaign Tiffany & Co launched for his debut jewellery collection, Paper Flowers. Featuring Elle Fanning dancing on the streets of New York – painted in blue, of course – to the tune of Moon River mixed with A$AP Rocky’s beats, it was an imaginative and compelling campaign that shunned the archaic notion of jewellery being stuffy and old-fashioned.
Given this change in direction, it was surprising that Krakoff derived his inspiration from that oft-overused muse, flowers, for his first jewellery line. Often saddled with (unfair) descriptions of “romantic” and “clichéd”, flowers seemed a far cry from the 21st-century vision that Krakoff had boldly envisioned for Tiffany & Co. But when we were invited to discover the collection in real life a few months ago, it dispelled whatever misgivings we might have had – Paper Flowers was a resolutely modern take on blossoms, one that was painted by Krakoff’s ingenuity laced with Tiffany & Co’s own heritage. Not ground-breaking, but infused with the designer’s fashion sensibilities that imbued it with that much-elusive cool factor.
The collection, as the name suggests, was not just inspired by normal flowers, but paper ones. Hence, the pistil takes the shape of a tack that you’d use on cork boards. The effect is three-dimensional as diamond-pave petals are mixed with high-polished ones. The collection also features jewels that come accentuated with tanzanites (blue-purplish hued stones that Tiffany & Co first introduced to the jewellery world), adding a pop of colour. Tiffany & Co says that the flower itself is of indistinct origin – it defies definition, just like today’s multi-hyphenate men and women.
Combine the word “forever” with the Italian word for flower, fiore, and you get “fiorever”. The wordplay on Bvlgari’s latest fine jewellery collection is cute, and the jewels live up to their nomenclature. The Bvlgari Fiorever collection has its roots in the four-petal high jewellery creation that the Italian house had launched back in 2015, and that has been re-introduced in a series of fine jewellery pieces.
Like the brand’s Serpenti and Diva collections that have become main pillars for Bvlgari, the Fiorever has all the makings to become an icon: even in its pared-down format, it is still impactful. Bvlgari achieved a multi-dimensional effect by a clever design that cleaves the petal’s outer rim in two – like a sleight of hand, you might not notice it at first glance, but it serves to create the illusion that the petals are ruffling in the wind.
The Fiorever, available in white or rose gold, provides a range of options for women of all stripes: women looking for daily-wear jewels will find that the stud earrings are dainty yet striking; and women who are up for some oomph will love the edginess of the single cuff earrings or the necklace with tassles.
By using a universal motif such as flowers for its newest fine jewellery entrant, we can’t deny that Bvlgari has played it safe, but we appreciate the appeal of using a theme that’s so timeless and defiant of the changing patterns of trends.
Chaumet cultivates an impressive garden with its Hortensia collection, which is rooted in the jeweller’s royal past. Its most notable customer was Empress Joséphine, wife of Napoléon Bonaparte. The nature lover and avid botanist was known to escape the rigours of city life at Château de Malmaison, where she tended to the garden and introduced exotic flora and fauna. In 1807, Marie-Étienne Nitot (the founder of Chaumet) was commissioned to create a precious jewel for the queen, featuring a hydrangea depicted in gold and set with 300 carats of diamonds.
Today, Chaumet pays tribute to this legacy with the Hortensia collection. Immortalised in the form of jewellery, the hydrangea imagined by Chaumet takes on various forms: fully studded with diamonds, or shaped from a gemstone like coral or malachite. It can be worn on its own as an earring stud, or as a bouquet comprising of various blooms.
What we particularly love about the collection is that it is unabashedly feminine – whether rendered in pale pink for the Aube Rosé line or malachite for the Eden extension, it comes alive in an explosion of colours. Chaumet features the flowers in full bloom and arrests the ephemerality of nature in the embrace of time, eschewing the cyclical nature of trends and playing by its own strengths.
Van Cleef & Arpels Frivole
Meaning Frivolous in English, the Van Cleef & Arpels Frivole collection may be whimsical and cheeky in disposition, but absolutely serious in execution. After all, one can expect nothing but the finest French craftsmanship from the hallowed maison. The hand-polished surface of the heart-shaped petal speaks volumes of the level of craftsmanship at Van Cleef & Arpels’ ateliers, while the diamond at the heart of each flower dazzles with unparalleled brilliance.
First introduced in 2017, the collection received a fresh injection of life this year as it welcomed nine new additions that were in line with the playful nature of the motif. While its first avatar featured eight three-petal flowers blossoming on a ring, this year’s additions were pared down, with three blooms crafted in yellow gold. The poetic and romantic nature of the flower is tempered by the asymmetry achieved by using a prime number, making the Frivole a contemporary take on a classic motif.
The result is an ultra-wearable collection that’s versatile enough for day or night. Further showcasing its versatility for today’s woman, the pendant can be transformed into a brooch.
All images from respective brands, artwork by Curatedition. All rights reserved.