Jewelry Houses Embrace Futuristic Designs in Paris

PARIS — Traditional calendars may have been upended, but jewelry houses stepped up to the plate, pulling together pieces to show in the French capital for the annual July rendezvous even as they scrambled to meet clients in other parts of the world — including the Cannes Film Festival. The haute couture fashion shows had Paris buzzing with high-profile events that drew international editors, stars and clients for the first time in months.

Players large and small jostled for attention, with a number of jewelry labels pushing into futuristic territory, while others drilled down on craftsmanship to tell stories of brand history. There were also messages of diversity and inclusiveness.

Yet rising cases of the Delta variant of COVID-19 around the world cast a shadow of uncertainty over events, serving as a reminder that the environment remains unpredictable.

Bulgari, Cartier, Pomellato and Fred were examples of brands that brought pieces to show to the press in Paris after unveiling collections in Italy earlier.

Cartier set up outdoor seating and wildflowers outside its Place Vendôme store, drawing in guests for a viewing of a selection of pieces from its Sixth Sense collection, which had been shown over a two-week period last month at a luxury hotel on Lake Como. Pieces on view in Paris included the Lindy necklace, in platinum with hanging rows of yellow diamond beads, that tremble with movement. For added newness, the label also brought a few items scheduled to be launched in the fall. There were some ferocious-looking Panthère pieces, including a ring carved from fossilized wood — the feline’s mouth open wide, ears pressed back in annoyance.

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Bulgari, which had unveiled its Magnifica collection in a full-blown event in Milan in June — the city’s first major in-person event since the pandemic — brought several pieces from the collection, placing them near the new Place Vendôme entrance of its sprawling, marble-lined flagship, which was just refurbished and enlarged.

Despite all the disruption these past months, historic house Boucheron has kept an even keel, remaining faithful to its twice-yearly launches — January’s inspiration is drawn from the archives while July is reserved for exploring new materials. The house showed highly futuristic pieces with a holographic, rainbow effect — working with glass company Saint Gobain to spray layers of precious metals on enamel and rock crystal, adding an iridescent coating.

Boucheron’s Prisme bracelet with pavéd diamonds. Courtesy of Boucheron

The Halo necklace is an airy bubble-like piece in rock crystal, anchored with prominent rows of pavéd diamonds, while striking Prisme and Faisceaux cuff bracelets refract light through coated rock crystal cut in sharp angles, layered over paved diamonds for even more luster.

Dior and Louis Vuitton figured among labels that did not show during the week. Dior had launched its Dior Rose collection in Chengdu last month. For that collection, designer Victoire de Castellane took a figurative and futuristic approach to the rose theme — a house mainstay — working in opals for a modern look. Also shown last month, but in Paris during men’s fashion week, was de Castellane’s first custom piece designed for men, a diamond-encrusted cactus pendant, worn by Travis Scott, who collaborated on the fashion collection with Dior men’s designer Kim Jones.

Louis Vuitton, meanwhile, continues to expand its reach in high jewelry, launching its Bravery collection — an homage to the trunkmaker’s founder — with a campaign fronted by Alicia Vikander. The jewelry made a brief appearance in front of cameras for magazine shoots before it was swooped off to Monaco for its first client event earlier this month. Pieces included the Tumbler necklace, a rainbow of more than 130 stones including an 24-plus-carat cerulean aquamarine, with a jewel-encrusted tumbler lock, inspired by the trunkmaker’s patented lock mechanism.

Chaumet picked up its Torsade collection and took it across the Place Vendôme to show at the Ritz. The house’s historic salons were already filled with the exhibit “Joséphine and Napoléon, an extraordinary story,” which traces the couple’s relationship — with ornate jewelry from the time, including micro mosaic sets ringed with pearls, a gothic belt with onyx and a diamond tiara in the shape of wheat. The exhibit, which is free to the public, has seen a steady stream of visitors, noted Chaumet chief executive officer Jean-Marc Mansvelt.

Chaumet’s ruby ring from the Torsade collection. Courtesy of Chaumet

Filling a ground floor room overlooking the garden at the Ritz, the Torsade jewelry was a more modern affair. Rotating slowly on displays, the jewelry was inspired by the winding frieze that rings the column of the Place Vendôme. The pieces included a white gold tiara featuring diamonds in rose cuts and brilliant cuts, with winding curlicue shapes. There were also a few colored stones here and there, with a 3-carat oval cut featuring on a white gold ring and an asymmetric sautoir necklace with 12 rubies, with thin diamond-paved chains fashioned as a winding, or unwinding, ribbon around the strands. Screens and larger-than-life sized photos offered close-ups of details and craftsmanship.

“What characterizes Chaumet is the idea of movement, energy, suspension,” said Mansvelt, noting that was the underlying direction when the house set out to draw up the collection three years ago.

A few weeks ago, the executive hosted a dinner at the newly refurbished Hotel de la Marine in honor of Diane Kruger, treating guests who included Natalia Vodianova and Cindy Bruna with a Chopin performance from cellist Camille Thomas.

Van Cleef & Arpels showed a collection of its classic ballet dancer brooches, “Dance Reflections,” emphasizing its deep and longstanding involvement in the world of dance, which is set to expand.

“We want to be useful, to contribute to the existence of an artistic expression that is fragile for several reasons,” said Serge Laurent, dance and culture programs manager at the house.

The executive joined the label two years ago from the Pompidou Center, noting that dance performances take place at a specific moment, and cannot be exhibited for years, like a piece of artwork can.

“It is really important for the house to push open the doors to different realms to the largest public,” said Van Cleef & Arpels CEO Nicolas Bos, citing the house’s school of jewelry arts in Paris and abroad, as well as its recent “Precious Stones” exhibit at the Natural History Museum in Paris.

“We think there are extraordinary things to discover around the different aspects of the art of jewelry and often it’s a domain that’s not well known, intimidating, a bit aloof, complicated,” he said, noting the idea is to team up with institutions like museums and universities to make the arts more accessible.

A 26.07-carat emerald cut diamond from the De Beers 1888 Master Diamonds collection Courtesy of De Beers

De Beers presented 19 diamonds from the 1888 collection — named after the year the company was founded. Ranging from 5 to 26 carats, and coming from the group’s mines in Botswana and Canada, the pieces served to introduce its new blockchain tracing platform Tracr. A scroll on a tablet showed the various stages of a stone, from its rough state through to its current form, a 24.08-carat emerald diamond.

“We’re lucky we’re connected to the source,” said Celine Assimon, CEO of De Beers Jewellers. Also on hand were pieces from the Reflections of Nature collection, unveiled last year through digital means.

Hermes Kelly Gavroche necklace designed by Pierre Hardy Courtesy of Hermès

Hermès showed its jewelry in its Faubourg Saint-Honoré flagship store, the Kellymorphose collection. Revisiting the hardware of the iconic Kelly bag, creative director Pierre Hardy went for a more industrial rather than heritage flair with baguette-cut black spinels paved in neat rows on a cuff, punk-looking chains closed with a padlock or a full-metal rendering of the bag’s straps as a lariat necklace.

Labels Pomellato and Messika showed at the Crillon.

Pear Lover creole earring from Messika. Courtesy of Messika

Valerie Messika filled the Marie Antoinette salon with a performing dancer and bouquets of yellow flowers.

“My father lent me a box of yellow diamonds to compose with,” she explained from a balcony overlooking the Place de la Concorde. The Magnetic Attraction collection includes a number of yellow pear cut diamonds, including the Pear Lover set, with a necklace featuring one in 7 carats, and an earring with three diamonds of more than 5 carats.

“The energy of diamonds is like the energy of people, when you wear them, there’s a connection that takes place,” the designer said.

Consumers are interested in purchasing things with value, she said, noting interest in her jewelry. The label has expanded in China with three stores opened already and another three in the works. Younger consumers there have a lot of buying power and are open to buying new French labels, she said, noting plans are to join Tmall’s Luxury Pavilion toward the end of the year.

Chopard necklace with dogs and pearls. Courtesy of Chopard

Chopard offered a peek at its ground-floor boutique even as works continued elsewhere in the building. One side of the boutique features a masculine, watch-themed section with a fireplace, a bar stocked with spirits and Baccarat glasses, and large wooden consoles serving as display cases in the windows. The jewelry section had a feminine flair, with white carpeting and plush easy chairs. Stones shown at a previous display at the Ritz were now set, including an opal that has been set with colored, titanium flowers. The most attention-grabbing piece, of the Red Carpet Collection, however, was the diamond and pearl dog collar necklace, featuring 13 different types of stone-encrusted dogs — all of different breeds, including a chihuahua, a Schnauzer and a Weimaraner. It also featured a cavalier King Charles spaniel, fashioned after Byron, the traveling companion of the label’s copresident and artistic director Caroline Scheufele. The brand also showed a prominent jeweled cuff bracelet with paisley motifs and pastel-colored gems.

Fred Force 10 winch pieces with steel and gold Courtesy of Fred

Across the street, Fred, which belongs to LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, took to a freshly renovated suite at the Hotel Costes overlooking the Rue Castiglione to unveil the label’s new masculine addition to Force 10 called “Winch.”

The new line, which includes identification tags and rings featuring cable and a mix of gold and steel, was set up in displays featuring weights and towels in a bathroom setting.

Fred CEO Charles Leung described the jewelry as “very creative, very new pieces targeting men — sport is in our DNA.”

At Repossi, which usually shows in step with the ready-to-wear calendar, Gaia Repossi worked a collection of 38 pieces focused on flexibility and fluidity, with everyday wear in mind. She added the first pendant to the Blast line, a circular motif figuring a spiral as seen from above and finished with a statement diamond, and new twists on her Floating Diamond, including a ring featuring a rare pink-purple pear-cut diamond. A number of these pieces were not in Paris, but off touring the world in trunk shows. The house plans to show jewelry that further explores this direction in Paris in the fall, along with items from the collaboration with the Mapplethorpe Foundation.

Chameleon ring from Elie Top Magica nature collection. Courtesy of Elie Top

Elie Top drew up a mystical, animal-themed collection, with creatures that looked like they’d sprung from primordial times — cute yet fierce — with claws, scales and crests. A crocodile knuckle duster ring had the skin in silver with a patina, and a row of bright, chunky emeralds running along its back, while the Creole Dorsal hoops were like slices of scales, ending with a sharp tip. The designer also offered prominent tooth pendants, curved and pointy, and dorsal rings that recalled the crest of a jungle dweller. The highly stylized hornbill was geometric, with a different pattern depending on the angle, as pointed out by Top, holding up the piece to visitors at his showroom.

Statement’s LifeWay opal and diamonds pendulum necklace. Courtesy of Statement

At Statement, Amélie Huynh pushed the futuristic vibe of her label, adding an electric blue synthetic opal as the centerpiece of the Anyway pendant. Along with the new industrial-looking rings with a moveable outer crown, the jewelry fit her theme of equipping people seeking to augment their styles, but this time with a mechanical rather than digital approach — she had introduced a brand avatar around the time of previous presentations — understandable after 18 months of Zoom calls.

Cindy Chao took to the screen, with travel conditions complicated by the ongoing pandemic, and showed a titanium feather brooch, a pair of coral earrings — one in brown hues, and the other in blues, with brown diamonds, sapphires set in titanium frames. The designer recently set up an exhibit of her works in Shanghai, with architect Tom Postma.

Diamond earrings by Fawaz Gruosi. Courtesy of Fawaz Gruosi

Fawaz Gruozi made a return to the high jewelry scene, working extensively with amber, and opening a London boutique on Berkeley Square earlier this year. Plans to show in Paris were thrown off so he took to the screen. His bold volumes came through nonetheless, as seen in the organic curl of his ruby cuff bracelet and the sinuous curve of an open diamond and emerald necklace, featuring five Colombian emeralds totaling 42.78 carats.

Charlotte Dauphin showed her latest designs through a series of illustrations by French stylist Aurore de La Morinerie. “The delicacy of a drawing was a way of going against the grain of the digital, to return to [the work of the hand] and the idea of fragility in a universe that’s become very ‘pixel-based’,” wrote the jewelry designer, who comes from a family of artists and is the granddaughter of French advertising pioneer Jacques Dauphin. The visuals look like grids, screens or sheets — flat surface posters — wrapped around fingers and ears. Among the most striking pieces from the “lapidary formulas” was a C-shaped grid ring studded with square rubies and finished off with a 1.8-carat emerald-cut pale yellow diamond. There was also an ear cuff studded with yellow brilliant-cut diamonds and a deceptively simple open ring in red and orange matte lacquer.

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