Once reserved exclusively for an aristocratic and noble elite, jewellery has become increasingly democratic since the early 1990s. Many high jewellery brands such as Cartier, Tiffany & Co, Bulgari, and Boucheron have all experienced unprecedented growth during this period and inspired several iconic luxury Maisons — namely Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Dior, Gucci, and Giorgio Armani — to develop their high jewellery collections and invest in expert jeweller ateliers in Europe.
Interest in high jewellery doesn't seem to be waning: last November, LVMH acquired the American jeweller Tiffany & Co for $16 billion. Yet the luxury group belonging to Bernard Arnault is not the only one that is coveting high jewellery brands. In September 2019, for instance, Richemont bought Buccellati for an undisclosed amount.
These investments are worth it: in times of economic uncertainty, high jewellery is forecasting a stable performance. According to Deloitte's 2019 Global Powers of Luxury Goods report, the silver and watches sector were accounting for a 29.6 per cent share of the top 100 luxury goods sales, ranking the industry as second in terms of composite sales performance in the financial year of 2017. Moreover, Deloitte reported that this sector experienced a sales growth of 9.7 per cent as compared to the previous year's decline of 4.0 per cent.
So it comes as no surprise to see that the Place Vendôme becomes the centre stage of the new Haute Joaillerie collections during Haute Couture in Paris. From Chanel to Chopard, to Van Cleef & Arpels, Cartier, and Boucheron, many high jewellery brands take advantage of the less hectic schedule of the Haute Couture presentations to invite the press and buyers to discover their collections in the heart of Paris. But let's not forget Dior and Louis Vuitton, which also held Haute Joaillerie presentations. Vuitton has unveiled its latest acquisition during its latest presentation: the second-largest rough diamond in the world that has been acquired by the French Maison, which intends to craft an upcoming high jewellery collection from it.
Named Sewelô, which means "rare find" in the Tswana language spoken in Botswana, where it mined, the 1,758 carats diamond acquired by Louis Vuitton has not yet been cut or even polished, and therefore remains in its natural black carbon shell for now.
From a stylistic point of view, the high jewellery collections have demonstrated the excellence of each Maison's craftsmanship, while at the same time echoing the signature style that defines them. Chanel, for instance, presented its latest creations on place Vendôme, not far from the iconic rue Cambon where the Maison has its historic headquarters.
Referring to Gabrielle Chanel's favourite camellia flowers and tweed fabrics, the Chanel Haute Joaillerie collection focused on intricate, organic textures and meticulous craftsmanship for an utterly refined result. The ultimate aim was to breathe life into solid gold and tweed with diamonds, pearls, and sapphires that were layered and intertwined on several plains, creating necklaces, rings, and bracelets with splendorous textured effects.
Still, on Place Vendôme, Chopard opted for a unique presentation: instead of showcasing the actual high jewellery creations, the Swiss brand revealed an unprecedented assortment of precious stones that will use to craft the final pieces, alongside some sketches of the future high jewellery designs. In this context, some exceptional precious stones were exhibited: amongst them, 21.04-carat sapphire, a pigeon blood ruby, and a series of Colombian emeralds — the largest of which is 61.79 carats. According to a spokesperson, the ultimate high jewellery collection will be presented in Cannes this year and worn by celebrities on the red carpet.
Earlier that week, Dior Joaillerie presented Victoire de Castellane's latest take on high jewellery. The French jewellery designer opted for a transgressive new high jewellery collection that, for the first time, mixed-and-matched precious and semi-precious stones. In this sense, the Artistic Director opted for between-finger rings, bangles, necklaces, and earrings in candy-hues that dares to bring together an unconventional and girly colour palette, as well as unexpectedly chunky proportions and playful shapes. Not surprisingly, high jewellery has a bright and whimsical future ahead of itself.