It was a freezing-cold arrival in Paris for Couture Week, with temperatures staying steadfastly below zero. But with the statue of Napoleon finally freed of its scaffolding and fur coats aplenty, there was a sense of business as usual on this famous square. Inside boutiques, in rooms at the Ritz and in private salons overlooking Place Vendome it was a different story, however, with new jewels being unveiled for the first time to a select few, as is tradition at this time of year.
Our first appointment was at Alexandre Reza, where we tried on these strikingly beautiful hoop earrings. Set with rare ruby “pebbles” in the most desirable pigeon’s blood colour that has long been associated with the Mogok region of Burma, these rich, blood-red stones are in fact from Mozambique, where rubies usually display much pinker hues.
In the maison’s historic salon above its Place Vendome boutique, Chaumet had on display its new Insolence collection. This intensely feminine high jewellery bracelet, below, was a pleasure to wear, with diamond ribbons intertwined with a rose gold rope chain so realistic it gave the impression that, with a gentle tug, the whole jewel would unravel.
Giampiero Bodino put on a mind-bending show for the most surprising launch of Paris Couture Week: three jewellery watches, presented in a hall of mirrors designed to disconcert. My favourite watch, the Primavera, below, has all the hallmarks of a Bodino jewel, but with a diminutive dial hidden beneath the flower, so thin that you would never know a timekeeper is ticking away beneath the yellow diamond.
To celebrate the opening of its boutique on Rue Saint Honoré, David Morris brought out the big guns, including a spectacular high jewellery necklace set with a 13.30 carat natural pearl. It was a fiery Padparadascha sapphire ring, pictured top, that rendered us speechless, though. The colour of a blazing sunset, the 12.30 Padparadascha originates from Ceylon and is accompanied by white diamonds and pink diamonds, creating a mouth-watering mix of colours.
Messika is waiting until Baselworld for its big launch, but we thoroughly enjoyed trying on some recent high jewellery creations. This unusual toi et moi ring, with an 8-carat yellow diamond and 5-carat white diamond, sets the pear-cut gems at interesting angles, giving this classic design a very contemporary look.
Rather than launch a new jewellery collection, De Beers focussed on showcasing its diamond expertise. And what a showcase it was. Nothing can top holding €30 million of diamonds on the back of your hand, but for sheer sophistication, there was this 4.27 carat marquise-cut diamond in an incredibly rare Fancy grey colour, with subtle flashes of blue, set into a one-of-a-kind engagement ring.
Lydia Courteille is not only a jeweller but an experienced gemmologist also, so if she tells you that a gemstone is one of the best she has seen in her life, you sit up and take notice. The transluscent fire opal in the centre of the ring, below, the latest addition to Lydia’s Gardens of Xochimilco collection, is polished but still in its rough form and shot through with neon flashes of green.
Louis Vuitton hunts out the rarest gemstones for its high jewellery – case in point this magnificent lavender spinel, below, from Sri Lanka in a rich mauve colour, which I at first mistook for a tanzanite. It is so unusual to see a spinel – a gem with the highest refractive index after a diamond – in this shade and with such even saturation.
The natural world is a constant source of inspiration to Boucheron, which presented a lush high jewellery collection featuring naturalistic ivy leaves. This necklace is spectacular, with the diamond leaves – set en-tremblant so that they shiver with the wearer's every move – creeping around the neck in the iconic Question Mark style first seen at Boucheron in 1871.
Finishing on a high, our last appointment was to view Chopard’s new Garden of Kalahari necklace, the highlight of which was this flawless D colour 50 carat round brilliant diamond, below, set into a pendant. Accompanied by two 25 and 26 carat pear-shape diamonds on either side, the carat count is mind-boggling, as I'm sure is the price tag, which we were told is, simply, “priceless”.