5 Of Our Favourite Gem-Studded Stunners From 2018
1/5 Bvlgari: Wild Pop Happy Leaves Necklace
If there is one brand that can be counted on to push the conservative boundaries of the high jewellery world, it's Bvlgari. The cheeky Happy Leaves Necklace from its latest Wild Pop high jewellery collection is inspired by a certain banned botanical whose psychoactive properties had nonetheless made it rather popuplar amongst people in a certain demographic—especially in the 1980s, the age of unapologetic extravagance. The Happy Leaves necklace, constructed out of white gold and studded with shimmering diamonds and emeralds, is the perfect tongue-in-cheek tribute to the era.
The entire Wild Pop high jewellery collection is devoted to the indulgent '80s. The collection draws particular inspiration from the life and work of pop art icon Andy Warhol, who is a close friend of Nicola Bulgari, the grandson of founder Sotirios Bulgari. Warhol was fascinated with jewels, Bvlgari’s in particular, to the point where he would style the brand’s jewels in celebrity photoshoots for his own magazine, Interview. This year, Bvlgari returns Warhol’s affections by creating the entire Wild Pop collection based on its historical ephemera found in his archives. The collection captures the spirit of the ’80s, but is executed in a resolutely modern fashion.
2/5 Van Cleef & Arpels: Les Quatre Contes de Grimm Panache Mystérieux clip
When it comes to telling a tale with gems and jewels, there is no storyteller better than Van Cleef & Arpels. The maison once again captures the imagination with its latest collection, Quatre Contes de Grimm or the Four Tales of the Brothers Grimm. The collection reinterprets four lesser-known tales by the brothers, namely The Twelve Dancing Princesses, The Golden Bird, The Three Feathers, and The Town Musicians of Bremen. Each one is given corporeal bejewelled form by the storied maison, which has crafted exquisite pieces that each tell their own tales.
The Panache Mystérieux clip pictured here is inspired by the tale of The Three Feathers, which tells of a king who blows on three different feathers to guide each of his three sons on their quests for the throne. Van Cleef & Arpels has rendered the titular feathers in an expanse of diamonds and velvety pastel sapphires in pale shades of blue, mauve and yellow. The sapphires are set using the maison's vitrail mystery setting, which serves to minimise the visible metal and highlight the translucence of each gem. The setting requires that the sapphires be precisely cut—gently rounded on the front for a softer appearance (more closely mimicking the velvety texture of feathers) and faceted at the back for greater brilliance.
3/5 Chaumet: Trésors d’Afrique Espiègleries Ant brooch
Chaumet continues its mission to create a culturally rich world of jewellery. Its latest high jewellery collection, Trésors d’Afrique, is the final stop on its tour of global cultures, which has made pit stops in Russia with the Promenades Impériales of Russia chapter and Japan with the Chant du Printemps suite. The collection began with an encounter with Paris-based Kenyan visual artist Evans Mbugua, who guided Chaumet through the heart of the continent, stripping away any imposed fantasies. The resulting collection is divided into different segments, each one drawing inspiration from a different part of African culture and lands.
The Espiègleries selection draws visually from the continent’s lush flora and fauna, with animals such as the elephant, giraffe, lion, and the unassuming ant taking centre stage. Designed by Mbugua, this collection of six brooches (one of which can be transformed into a pair of earrings) takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to portraying these majestic beasts, with the multicoloured giraffe having its head in the clouds, the flamingos with their necks intertwined to form a heart, and the normally fearsome lion stretching its back like a satisfied cat waking from a long nap. We are particularly fond of the ant brooch, which can also be transformed into a pair of earrings. It is crafted from yellow gold, with a branch carved out of rich blue lapis lazuli and studded with sapphires and red spinels.
4/5 Dior: Dior Dior Dior Dentelle Guipure Hand Jewel
Victoire de Castellane has done it again. As the creative director of Dior Joaillerie, de Castellane has consistently designed collections that are unusual, whimsical, and entirely distinctive of Dior. Her latest collection, Dior Dior Dior, draws from the maison’s fashion roots once again—this time focusing on the intricacies of lace. “I wanted to capture the sensation of ethereal lightness and the haute couture signature of lace,” said de Castellane, “[It], like ribbons, silk and draping, is essential to the Dior lexicon.”
And capture it she did. Each piece in the collection appears to have been created out of the fine material—the diamonds stitched onto cut-out segments of guipure, the floral adornments (another Dior signature) embroidered onto honeycomb dentelle.
And as always with de Castellane, the jewellery is worn in unique ways, with the hand jewel pictured here being among the more unusual creations.
Most impressively, however, is the workmanship of the pieces. The artisans of the maison were undoubtedly pushed to their limits to achieve the impossibly fine craft that went into each piece. It was as though they created silken embroidery out of gold.
5/5 Chanel: Coromandel Horizon Lointain plastron necklace
Gabrielle Coco Chanel lived in a lacquered box. It was carved and painted with all manner of beautiful things, including blooms at the height of spring, cloud-filled landscapes, and every kind of natural fauna. By this, we refer to her famous love of Coromandel screens, a type of intricately lacquered folding panel that Gabrielle loved and used to decorate every nook of her apartment at 31 rue Cambon in Paris.
The French maison has now turned its founder’s love of these Coromandel screens into a stunning 59-piece high jewellery collection, of which 24 are unique pieces. The jewellery revolves around three themes: flowers (particularly the camellia, which was Gabrielle’s favourite), the menagerie of animals found on the screens, and minerals, which reflect Gabrielle’s love of crystals and gemstones. One standout piece is this Horizon Lointain plastron necklace, which features a dreamy landscape dotted with fluffy clouds made of gleaming mother-of-pearl, and geometric lines that evoke the image of mountains, complete with diamond‑dotted trees.
(Related: Chanel Introduces New Coromandel High Jewellery Collection)