Back to Black: The Art of Monochrome in Jewellery Design

Take a look around you and, at first glance, parts of the world may appear black or white. But if you look carefully, it is rare to spot something that is completely monochrome. Nature abhors monotony, which is why the world is filled with colours of every shade and hue. Perhaps that is why black and white objects crafted by human hands seem to draw our attention like moths to a flame.

I can’t help but associate the black and white palette with certain, very specific things: historical cinematography, piano keys and the Buddhist Yin and Yang symbol. Each of these phenomena contains the notion of antitheses as if inviting us to solve this visual conundrum and find some sort of harmonious or blissful reward. However, it is far from easy to find a balance between these two shades, both in a literal and a figurative sense. Perhaps this is the wisdom and art of life. I want to share with you some examples of successful creative solutions to this recurring problem, which will show you that, aesthetically, anything is possible.

I put it to you that, even to those with barely any knowledge of the fashion industry, the design of a classic Chanel suit will still be familiar to them. The founder of the brand, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, strongly believed that women should look graceful and elegant without compromising on comfort. The fashion designer is known for having introduced elements of men’s clothing into her outfits – unifying both Yin and Yang – and she favoured the classic combination of black and white. Mademoiselle Chanel saw the world in monochrome for it was these elegant and simple opposites that dominated her collections. Later, this colour palette found traction in the jewels of Chanel and in turn became mainstream the world over, inspiring jewellers to see black and white with fresh eyes.

They discovered a new monochrome palette of gems. Black diamonds, enamels, varnishes, ebony and onyx, and colourless diamonds, pearls, and mother-of-pearl that embodied the purity of white. Let’s take a look at the results.

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