The High Jewellery launches that take place during Paris Haute Couture Week in January are always quieter than those that occur in July – there are fewer of them, they’re more low key, and the whole thing feels less chaotic. It’s also often a really good opportunity to see a few off-schedule jewellers showcasing something unique, and this year, it was no different.
But first to the big players. Chopard kicked things off with a small-in-number, massive-in carats six-piece collection called the Gardens of Kalahari. Incorporating 23 diamonds all hewn from one 342-carat rough of perfect clarity and colour (otherwise known as a D-Flawless), the result was half a dozen pieces that showcase these stones.
The showpiece is a transformable necklace from which can be suspended three pendants each harbouring a huge stone. A brilliant-cut, heart-shaped, and pear-shaped diamond, weighing a stonking 50, 26, and 25 carats respectively, make this necklace a seriously high piece of jewellery, with an impressive provenance.
At Boucheron, it was wild ivy which starred in Lierre de Paris, or “Paris Ivy”. One piece in particular – a question mark necklace inspired by a Boucheron creation from 1881, is set with nine ivy leaves of graduating size, all in white gold and set with white diamonds. What can’t be described, however, is the way it shivers with every step.
Set “en tremblant”, each leaf vibrates in the most extraordinary way whenever the necklace moves, and the effect is breathtaking. There are also “repeatable” pieces in the collection (meaning they’ll be making more than one) which include the most perfect little ivy motif earrings and rings.
Chanel’s new collection, Coco Avant Chanel, is an ode to the women who influenced young Gabrielle Chanel’s life before 1920 – before Chanel the brand, that is. Eleven sets helmed by the double elements of lace and ribbon come in white, rose pink and dove grey, via pink or pale Padparadscha sapphires, pink and grey spinels, silky cabochon moonstones, pearls and and white diamonds.
Diamond lace, thick with birds and camellias, seems to have been sliced with scissors and placed back together, as seen in the Gabrielle bracelet, or minutely stretching apart, like in the Jeanne parure. There is even a fan, entirely backed in gold, panelled with mother of pearl and grey silk, and set with diamonds – it’s the most opulent of cooling handheld systems but somehow it works.
At Chaumet, the simple premise of an intertwining bow of diamond ribbons and twisted gold rope had remarkably simple yet seductive results – the juxtaposing textures of the coiled, silken rose-gold threads against the diamond-studded ribbons seen across looping necklaces, bracelets, rings and earrings, in both high jewellery and repeatable collections. But rather than being purely pretty, Chaumet has managed to inject an element of bondage, however subtly, into the collection, making it far sexier than you’d expect.
And finally to Dior, where Dior et d’Opales managed to pitch opals – that most fascinatingly kaleidoscopic stone – against riotously coloured gemstones in extraordinary time-telling bracelets (they are just too majestic to be called watches); with white diamonds and coloured gold in the shape of feathers in Petit Panache; or, as in Cher Dior, entirely set in diamonds. The whole collection may be an ode to the opal, but it is also, as ever, an ode to all the codes of Dior.