Much admired, haute joaillerie trend has yet to penetrate the mass market
BY MONICA BULLOCK
An haute joaillerie artist breathes vision into the world’s finest gemstones.
He or she creates magical, wearable works of art, always a clear cut above the rest.
Like haute couture, haute joaillerie misses the masses. When worn down the runway, thousands admire the surprising, distinguished designs, but few possess them. The limited production of these delicate-looking bold works of art along with their combination of precious jewels and metals make them less attainable for some but highly desirable to committed jewelry collectors.
Like any work of art, jewelry artists source their creations through a muse. Often it’s a simple concept. At Boucheron-Paris, creator Marc Newson finds inspiration from the infinite—such as a mass of glittering stars represented by blue sapphires and startling diamonds. Caroline Gruosi-Scheufele of Chopard seeks exceptional stones during her frequent trips around the globe, then sketches her concepts on paper, drawing on memories of exotic images found at locales from her wanderings.
Celebrated European jeweler Marie-Etienne Nitot, founder of historical Chaumet, received haute joaillerie commissions from queens and emperors like Marie Antoinette and Napoleon Bonaparte. Dainty tiaras, jewel-encrusted sword hilts and sparkling brooches glittered by candlelight at soirees and royal gatherings from France to Austria. Today, Nitot’s work shines back at us through the ages, inspiring new appreciation for a jewelry fashion once reserved only for royal families. Today’s modern haute joaillerie designers stay true to the legendary craftsmanship of Nitot and others while drawing on a whole new world of inspiration.
Today, Hollywood’s stars seek their own jeweled expressions through haute joaillerie. Gwyneth Paltrow has this year sported pieces from the Anna Hu collection. One of note was Anna Hu’s Hearts of Winter Cuff with its 2,368 rose-cut diamonds, which entranced red carpet followers. The designer found the jewel’s inspiration during a viewing of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet. Valued at $1,000,000, Hu’s 163-carat, all-white cuff bracelet set fashion history, all while quietly resting on the wrist of one of the world’s most celebrated actresses.
Earlier this year, Penelope Cruz attended the 2012 British Academy of Film and Television awards wearing a bold-colored Giorgio Armani dress and a pair of Chopard diamond earrings. Each earring consisted of diamonds in oval and pear shapes set in white gold; this haute joaillerie selection had a total carat weight of 30. Also in attendance at the BAFTAs was Berenice Bejo, sporting an haute joaillerie ring, also from Chopard. This amazing and elegant emerald ring was embellished by the surrounding black diamonds. The combination created a dark, fiery shimmer that made fellow attendees take a second look.
The future of haute joaillerie shines bright as today’s royalty continues to dazzle us with brilliant jewels reminiscent of sparkling centuries past but with the benefit of modern techniques and new inspirations. Haute joaillerie does more than encourage freedom of expression through jewelry; it creates a glistening link to a beautiful history and lays a gleaming bridge to the future of style.