High Jewelry favorites, summer 2021

SURREAL GENERATION paid great and committed attention to the sequence of releases in the new High Jewelry collections. Now, that the waves have died down, our jewelry expert Evgenia Pukhaeva is glad to share some insights about her three favorite picks.

Each jewelry Maison has its distinctive aesthetic that has evolved over the years. The heritage makes the fundament of it: iconic designs and stories behind them, specific materials, typical color combinations. Mixed with a modern vision, they create a unique and commercially successful entourage that is imprinted in everything each Maison creates. This is especially consistent in High Jewelry. 

The new Cartiers’ Sixieme Sens collection does not provide an exception.

What catches the eye at first and makes one think of the 1920s’ is the Parhelia ring/brooch with the central 20.51-carat cabochon sapphire and dispersing to both sides like echo waves, lines of diamonds and emeralds. The peacock color combination, together with the composition, the silhouette, and the proportions of the piece reminds me of the scarab-pins from the art deco period. 

The Parhelia ring with 21.51-carat Burmese sapphire cabochon, diamonds, emeralds, and black lacquer

A hint of art-deco shows up in the Meride necklace set with diamonds, onyx, and rock crystal. It’s a complicated piece, which at the first glance seems just a normal two-dimensional necklace, but in fact, is a three-dimensional trompe-l’œil. The black and white color scheme recalls the roaring twenties when a combination of colorless diamonds and black onyx or lacquer was typical and often used by Cartier. By the way, the Maison started using onyx in the same period and turned it into one of its unmistakable milestones.

Also, these black and white spots make me think of the Panthere de Cartier, although there’s another piece responsible for this mental connection. The real ode to the Maisons’ mascot is the Pixelage necklace. It is set with three emerald-cut topazes as the axis of a step-shaped piece covered with colored diamonds and onyx. This necklace’s finish is so flat and even that it could well be on you as a second skin. 

Boucheron, instead, released a completely innovative collection, which is my favorite of this season. It won’t be an exaggeration to call Carte Blanche, Holographique revolutionary. 

Honestly, when I saw a piece of the Holographique on Instagram for the first time I thought: “Damn, I like what Swarovski has become!” This is to explain how unexpected and unprecedented the new high jewelry collection of the Maison is.  

Prisme ring with rock crystal and pavé of diamonds, in white gold; Halo bracelet set with holographic rock crystal and diamonds, in white gold.

An idea to create jewelry pieces that would be not of just one color, or two (and not even 6) but instead of all the colors together, brought Claire Choisne (creative director of Boucheron since 2011) to a collaboration with Saint-Gobain – a manufacturer of technical glass specialized in the holographic coating. Together they created a technique of spraying layers of melted metal oxides powder on rock crystal and ceramic to get a super holographic liquid-rainbow-like effect. It’s impossible to say what color Holographique pieces are. They are all colors together! 

The essential piece of the collection is a Holographique necklace composed of coated rock crystal “petals”, each framed with a line of diamonds, with a 20.21 carat yellow octagonal Ceylon sapphire in the center. It’s the epitome of light in a jewelry piece. Alongside this almost futuristic Holographique series, a classic motif of flowers appeared with the same rainbow coating, which turned it into an ultramodern ornament. Another outstanding piece is the Opalescence single earring (or ear-sculpture) in the shape of a fish. It’s a big piece with a touch of Art Nouveau in its silhouette, and plique-à-jour technique used in fish fins. This type of enameling allowed the Maison to create very natural-looking transparency of the fins, which let the light shine through so the piece sparkles with holographic rays. 

Opalescence set of a pin and a single earring, with opal, diamonds and plique-à-jour enamel

With this collection, Boucheron pushed the boundaries of High Jewelry. Or, better to say, demonstrated how boundless it could be.

Boundless…what we can also call this way was the Magnifica collection by Bvlgari. The Italian Maison smashed the jewelry world with 350 high jewelry and timepieces celebrating its eternal value – joy. Bvlgari high jewelry pieces are kind of screaming: “life is so beautiful!” 

Magnifica conveys this message through important colored stones and strong designs. Take the Mediterranean Queen necklace with 5 Paraiba tourmalines of a total of around 500 carats, or the necklace Imperial Spinel set with an impressive spinel, the 4th biggest in the world, surrounded by a cascade of diamonds and emerald beads. 

From the point of view of design, Magnifica is pretty much heritage-oriented. In the collection, we can see pieces inspired by ornaments from the 60s’, 70s’, and 80s’. Or, like the bright sautoir in Egyptian style, almost repeated from the piece from the 1970’s. At the same time, Bvlgari turns to its “new” collections like Divas’ Dream and Fiorever.

Of course, Bvlgari couldn’t leave the Serpenti apart. My favorite representation of the iconic design in Magnifica is an achromatic neckpiece with a dynamic jabot line. This piece can be worn in two modifications – as a choker or “stretched” to curl on the collarbones. There is another piece that can be worn in 9 different ways – the vibrant Metamorphosis necklace set with diamonds and rubies with a detachable tassel. This neckpiece also has a matching watch.

The Magnifica collection is overwhelming, at the first glance almost repulsive for its huge stones, crazy color combinations, variety of designs. In fact, that was my first reaction: maybe this time it is really too much? But looking through it piece by piece, you see how the puzzle of the Maisons’ aesthetic appears in its complete perfection. And it’s not “too much”, it’s exactly Bvlgari.

These are my three favorite High Jewelry collections for Summer 2021. Please, don’t hesitate to check other gorgeous creations by Chaumet, Louis Vuitton, Buccellati, Piaget, Gucci, David Morris, Harry Winston, Chopard, De Beers.

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