Top 5: Summer’s Most Outstanding High Jewellery Necklaces

Some of the most talented creative minds on Place Vendôme have been working for years to realise the high jewellery collections launched this summer. Set with the finest gems and often taking hundreds of hours to finesse, not only are those jewels the most valuable creations in a jeweller’s repertoire, they are also the most ambitious. While I have been exploring, one by one, these wonderful collections, some extra-special jewels are deserving of a feature of their own, namely the standout necklaces that are brilliant examples of the jeweller’s art.

Boucheron - Fenêtre Sur Ciel

A sense of peace and serenity breezes through Boucheron’s Contemplations collection, which captures those fleeting moments in time when nature astounds with its beauty. One of the highlights of the collection for me is the Fenêtre Sur Ciel (Window to Sky) necklace – a work of art inspired by the artist James Turrell's “Open Sky” installation at the Chichu Art Museum in Japan. The scarf-style design is crafted from feather-light titanium mesh, which is as fluid as fabric and snakes across the skin. Close up it recalls the iridescence of a reptile’s scales but take a step back and a stormy sky filled with scudding clouds is revealed. To capture this lifelike scene, Boucheron’s creative director, Claire Choisne, combined miniature tiles of mother of pearl and diamonds, overlaid with slate-coloured lacquer, applied by hand using an airbrush. As a finishing touch, a 35-carat emerald cut tanzanite has been set in the centre to unite both tails of the scarf.

Cartier - Orpheis

Cartier also turned to nature for inspiration for its new [SUR]NATUREL high jewellery collection. Rather than creating true-to-like representations of the world around us, the French Maison has interpreted animals, water and plants as precious abstractions, far removed from their original forms. The Orpheis necklace is a masterpiece, translating the serpentine beauty of a snake into a bold and powerful jewel that winds seductively around the neck. With some very clever engineering, Cartier created diamond and onyx “scales” that it has overlapped in a staggered pattern, enabling the necklace to move with the same sinuous movements as a snake. Sourced specifically for this piece because it mimics the shape of a snake’s head, an intense green 53.94 carat rectangular cabochon emerald from Zambia contrasts dramatically with the black onyx – a classic colour combination for Cartier since the early 20th century.

Chaumet - Skyline

Chaumet’s new high jewellery collection, Perspectives, is an homage to architecture, a subject that has been a fertile source of inspiration for the Parisian Maison throughout its 240-year history. Translating the major movements in international architecture in six chapters of jewels with typical Chaumet bravura, strong, graphic lines, sculptural curves and three-dimensional volume define what are some of the most thrillingly contemporary jewels the House has ever created. The Skyline necklace is a particular triumph. A tribute to Pierre Sterlé, who worked for Chaumet in Paris in the 1930s and was known as the “couturier of jewellery”, his art deco aesthetic has been diffused into the soft folds of overlapping gold that descend down the décolletage. Reminiscent of a zip, the hammered gold tiles, contrasted with the openwork gold, introduce a rich contrast of texture and pattern that is enhanced by sleek rows of invisibly set emeralds and diamonds and a vivid green 16.06-carat Colombian emerald.

Van Cleef & Arpels - Merveille d’Émeraudes

Van Cleef & Arpels this year chose to shine a light on three of its most exceptional pieces in its Homage to High Jewellery on Place Vendôme. One of the jewels, the Merveille d’Émeraudes necklace, combines an iconic design and exceptional stones in one stately jewel that can be worn in many different ways. Showcasing a rare collection of emeralds gathered over years by the Maison’s gemmologists, the design is inspired by a collaret necklace created by Van Cleef & Arpels in 1929. Acquired by Princess Faiza of Egypt in 1947, this inspired interpretation of a historic jewel features five magnificent pear shape Colombian emeralds weighing 70.40 carats and is transformable. Presented as part of a suite, with matching earrings set with pear shape diamond drops, the emeralds and diamonds in both jewels are completely interchangeable.

Messika - Equilizer

One of the newest brands to be initiated into Paris’ high jewellery scene, Messika has been instrumental in transforming the perception of diamonds and making even the most valuable of stones wearable. For summer 2020, founder and artistic director Valérie Messika has introduced Voltige, a high jewellery collection united by sculptural shapes set with gravity-defying diamonds. With its contemporary silhouette, choker style and pleasing contrast of round and invisibly set diamonds, the Equilizer necklace is a real crowd-pleaser. Strands of diamonds criss-cross around the neck and rest comfortably upon the collarbone thanks to the necklace’s delicate, thoughtful construction. At the front, the overlapping rows of diamonds divide, making way for a pear-shaped yellow diamond that seems to be suspended in space. Joined to the necklace by the thinnest of platinum wires, this illusion of weightlessness reverberates throughout the whole Voltage collection. A fascinating fact: this necklace now belongs to the one and only Beyoncé.

As visions become bolder, techniques more advanced and clients younger, the world of high jewellery is more exciting than it has ever been, as showcased in these five outstanding necklaces.

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