Trend: Precious balls and baubles are the jewels du jour

A trend impossible to miss on the catwalk of Ann Demeulemeester, Nina Ricci, Bottega Veneta and Jil Sandler during their Spring/Summer 2020 fashion shows was jewellery featuring seriously sizable spheres, and a season later it continued to evolve into new interpretations by Dries Van Noten in their Autumn/Winter 2020 show. What’s so attractive about this simplistic design? Giant orbs create a hyper-modern, space-age feel in jewellery. However, more wearable interpretations of the trend dictate smaller sphere sizes which nevertheless keeps the eye’s attention regardless of their volume.

Marina B.

Several current designers truly embrace this trend, but before we talk about them, there is  one visionary from the past who I want to draw your attention to: Marina Bulgari (aka Marina B.) who created her Atomo collection filled with spheres in 18 karat gold back in 1989, and not because it reflected fashion of that time, but to feed her desire of finding a way of threading beads in an unconventional way. She found typical strands of pearls or gems uninspiring and, being an innovator in jewellery, one day she woke up excited, rushed to her atelier and asked her colleague to drill bronze beads of different diameters in random places. The result? The playful Atomo collection was born.


While Marina Bulgari associated her designs with atomic structures, Sean Gilson sought inspiration in bubbles when creating a namesake collection for Assael. Launched in 2017, it celebrates the versatility of this organic material with different types of pearls, including white South Sea, Akoya or Tahitian varieties, and Sardinian coral. Sea minerals of different diameters were selected and arranged seemingly at random in earrings and rings. Playing with this contemporary rendition of pearl jewellery allowed Gilson to create sizable spherical volumes in this collaboration. 

Melanie Georgacopoulos

One of the most inventive and architectural uses of the spherical shape in jewellery is the Nacre collection from Melanie Georgacopoulos. This line was the famous pearl jewellery specialists’ first venture into using mother-of-pearl. Here, globe-like pearls sit atop or punctuate the ends of grey, golden or pink mother-of-pearl surfaces in flat necklaces, and obscure, geometric open-ended cuffs and rings. These truly sculptural forms have to be seen to be believed, and are undoubtedly some of the most daring pearl interpretations of this trend.


Staying true to their signature technique of gemstone pave, the Italian brand Palmiero recreated bubbles in a variety of cocktail rings and pendants. They are adorned with diamonds and sapphires to capture the iridescence of soap bubbles, that are able to put a smile on the faces of children and adults alike. “My father still remains fascinated by the three-dimensional joyful volumes of bubbles, and he couldn’t help dedicating a collection of jewels to them”, says Luca Palmiero, son of the brand’s founder. 


“How we carry ourselves, how we stand to face the world, is very telling. We don’t always see ourselves accurately or understand our capabilities. The golden balls are like mirrors that magnify our perspective”, says Michal Kadar, the founder of CADAR jewellery brand about her Psyche collection. Consisting of long necklaces, a ring and a pair of earrings, the collection is made entirely of 18K yellow gold.


The British heritage brand Pragnell has created two signature lines which showcase circular designs in different ways; the Bohemia collection was released in 2019, and features small balls of precious metals linked together - occasionally punctured by diamonds - creating a contemporary feel. The Bubbles collection on the other hand, while still honouring circular forms, focuses on dappled groups of diamonds in bezel set precious metals in a playful ode to their namesake.

Maria Canale

Maria Canale’s history in design includes some of the most revered luxury jewellery houses in the world, and it’s easy to see how finely her skills have been honed in 2018’s Flapper collection. Here, the yellow gold ball motif is part of chains - whether flexible and freely moving or fixed - of which the undulating shapes contrast with the geometry of the sporadic use of baguette and brilliant cut diamonds. Many of the long necklaces, drop earrings and dangling bracelets feature these miniature golden balls as a fringe which flows in the same way as the fringing which frequently decorated the clothing of ‘flapper girls’; dancers during the Art Deco era. 


The extremely well-received Tiffany&Co. Hardwear line married heavy link chains with a steady pattern of precious baubles. The unusual nature of this combination referred to the industrial hardware of New York City, which proved popular with modern fine jewellery lovers as wearable, everyday precious jewels.

This delightful and irreverent jewellery trend adds a levity and joy to fine designs. Whether the spheres are in pearls, gemstones or in precious metals, adorning and accessorising yourself in jewellery baubles is definitely in for 2020.

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