PARIS – As theater, shopping and cafes are gradually coming out of a long hiatus, the fine jewelry presentations that traditionally accompany the season’s couture shows are back. Kind of.
Some houses, including Boucheron, Pomellato and Chaumet, schedule by appointment or virtual presentations. But several others chose dates last month and unveiled collections in destinations far from Place Vendôme, the heart of fine jewelry. Prices for these unique pieces typically start at around 50,000 euros (around $ 60,000) and can run into the millions.
Chanel and Dior, for example, traveled to Asia and Cartier hosted a major event along Lake Como in Italy to showcase 560 pieces.
“I think brands don’t want to waste time connecting with consumers trying to get back to normal – in what feels like a post-war, V-shaped euphoric frenzy,” Luca Solca, Managing Director luxury goods at Sanford C. Bernstein in Geneva, wrote in an email, referring to a rapid economic recovery. “Since no one knows how long these positive conditions will last, no brand wants to waste a second.”
He noted that, unlike many post-war recoveries, “consumers have amassed many savings during the pandemic, while asset markets are at their peak.”
On the road
Chanel’s No.5 Collection of 123 pieces, which debuted in Hong Kong in early June, is a tribute to the 100th anniversary of Chanel No.5 perfume. The collection will now travel to Shanghai in August, return to Paris on October 1, and then travel to New York in November.
Chengdu, a city of over 16 million people located in southwest China, was the scene of Dior’s 116-piece Dior Rose collection, presented in June as a fashion show with specially created dresses by Maria Grazia Chiuri, its artistic director of the women’s collections. The jewelry is now in Beijing.
And, discreetly for its spring 2022 men’s show, Dior also unveiled Cactus, a high jewelry necklace designed by Victoire de Castellane in collaboration with Kim Jones, artistic director of the Dior men’s collections. The piece, in white and yellow gold with diamonds, emeralds, cultured pearls and lacquer, marked the first time the house has paired fine jewelry with men’s clothing, a spokesperson said.
Cartier’s extensive presentation in Italy included 90 pieces from the latest Sixième Sens collection. Among them was the Phaan ring, crowned with an 8.2-carat ruby superimposed, stepped on a four-carat diamond set in an openwork setting as well as small spherical rubies and triangle-cut diamonds. (A sort of second-wave presentation of around thirty pieces was planned this week at its boutique in Place Vendôme, adding a few freshly finished creations – although the house did not specify how many.)
Bulgari also chose at the beginning of June to present 122 pieces from its Magnifica collection in Milan, part of a 350-piece tribute to the brand’s home in Rome and its 137-year history.
Why would a Roman brand choose Milan?
A spokeswoman said it was a show of solidarity for the European city hardest hit by Covid, as well as “a sign of hope and determination for the future.”
The brand said that among the most important coins was the Imperial Spinel, made of a 131-carat stone, the fourth largest spinel in the world (the largest are mounted in British and Russian crowns). Lucia Silvestri, the brand’s jewelry design director, acquired the stone after a gem collector contacted her via Instagram, a spokesperson said.
Louis Vuitton also came to present a collection of 90 pieces, the largest to date, on July 2 at the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo in Monaco. Entitled Bravery, the collection was meant to evoke the character of Louis Vuitton, who walked to Paris from the Jura in eastern France at the age of 14, eventually becoming an apprentice saddler.
Around 60 of the approximately 90 pieces designed by Francesca Amfitheatrof, artistic director of watches and jewelry, chronologically revisit the founder’s life story. It opened with a group called the Constellation of Hercules – a setup found in Vuitton’s birth chart – and culminated with another called Tumbler, a reference to the house’s patented locking mechanisms.
This season also marks some changes for two brands owned by Richemont.
Buccellati, in his first full presentation as a member of the group, showed off a garden-themed collection called Il Giardino di Buccellati, a collection of house classics like the rigato bracelet, but now revisited in pink sapphires, diamonds and a pale 20 karat green tourmaline.
And for its Dance Reflections collection, Van Cleef & Arpels has produced four ballerina brooches which illustrate a vast cultural project in the making for several years. The jewelry house awarded its first Fedora-Van Cleef & Arpels dance prize of € 50,000 this year and will sponsor a first performance in London in February.
However, some brands have chosen to present themselves in Paris and elsewhere in France. Now in her 10th year as the Creative Director of Boucheron, Claire Choisne has developed her own process to extend the legacy of the house. In January of each year, she presents Histoire de Style, an extrapolation from the house’s archives, while in July she focuses on innovative techniques and unconventional materials.
This week, at the Boucheron flagship in Place Vendôme, by appointment only, Mme Choisne will present Holographique, a collection of 25 pieces which, according to her, explores the relationship between light and color, as perceived through a prism or maybe on the surface of a soap bubble. “I am always looking for something specific in fine jewelry that is radically different from what you find elsewhere,” she says.
She decided the opals were right and used them to create Opalescence, a figurative necklace of a betta fish in an updated plique, an enamel technique, with two Ethiopian cabochon opals of 72 and 47 carats and 1,500 carats of opal beads. There is also a single companion earring.
Other pieces, including a rock crystal and diamond iteration of the popular Jack design, were finished with molten titanium and silver oxide powder coatings developed by French manufacturing company Saint Gobain. This compound, typically used on sunglasses and airport runway lights, renders color at varying intensities depending on the amount of titanium in the mixture or the number of coats.
Assertive pieces on the finish, such as the Holographic necklace in sliced rock crystal edged with diamonds anchored by a 21-carat yellow sapphire, offered him a lesson in designer. “The hardest part was not knowing what a piece would look like until the end result,” Ms. Choisne said. “It was like therapy – a lesson in letting go.”
In an email, Taiwanese jeweler Cindy Chao echoed the sentiment. Among his latest pieces, presented virtually during sewing, the Plume Brooch in Titanium, set with more than 1,000 diamonds, garnets and tsavorites, from his White Label collection.
Pomellato Creative Director Vincenzo Castaldo said a conversation with American artist Sheva Fruitman led him to recast vintage pieces into unique new creations for the second La Gioia collection, shown this week at the Hotel Crillon in Paris.
“You may be inspired by your past, but it’s a new idea to make new jewelry out of something you already own,” he said. “It was a challenge, but what surprised me was that it became very spontaneous.”
The Bavarole Trittico neo-baroque necklace, for example, incorporates recycled elements from collections spanning 20 years. His crosses, from the Bisanzio Collection from 1993 and the Victoria Collections from 2003 and 2013, were mounted alongside rock crystal pendants from 2007 on rose gold oval link bracelet chains from the Sabbia Collection from 2004. It is € 110,000.
Other displays in Paris include Chaumet’s Torsade collection, named after the friezes wrapped around the Vendôme column and rendered in airy structures like a tiara wrapped in diamond streamers, and De Beers’ 1888 Master Diamonds collection. Its five cocktail rings and loose diamonds are the first to feature Tracr, an exclusive platform unveiled in 2018 that uses blockchain technology and artificial intelligence to trace provenance and other information to the finished piece of jewelry. De Beers has said it will be used for all of its diamonds by 2030.
Another pandemic calendar change has moved the 74th annual Cannes Film Festival to July 6 (from its usual May dates), a sort of post-show flourish.
Chopard, official sponsor of the festival, said he would use it to reveal Paradise, a 74-piece collection inspired by nature, both real and mythological. It includes a leaf-shaped tsavorite necklace and a double necklace crowned with a bright yellow fancy diamond weighing 30.68 carats. Most of the designs will be seen on the Croisette, the Cannes promenade usually choked with stars and events, but a handful of pieces will be on display in the brand’s Parisian boutique.
Another hybrid presentation in a somewhat chaotic season.