Last week, Paris was aflutter with creativity as some of the world’s top fashion houses unveiled their most luxurious creations during the Spring 2016 edition of Paris Couture Week. With the spotlight on expert craftsmanship and boundary-pushing luxury design, it was the perfect moment to show off new haute joaillerie, with Chanel, Dior, Boucheron and Lydia Courteille all seizing the day with showcases of spectacular high jewellery.
Lydia Courteille’s Queen of Sheba collection obsessed over green coloured gemstones, while Chanel introduced its famous quilt pattern to its high jewellery lines for the first time. Boucheron expanded its menagerie of bejewelled beasts, and Dior unveiled an unruly rainbow of colour and gemstone juxtapositions. While each collection was very different, there were some interesting jewellery trends that emerged.
The most influential of these was, perhaps, the mix ‘n’ match effect, with jewels combining a mixture of gemstone settings, sizes, shapes and shades in single designs. The Dior Granville collection was the most brazen, with gemstones clashing together, and asymmetry the norm. A Jaipur-inspired green theme ran through the Lydia Courteille jewellery on display, with a palate of emeralds, tourmalines, tsavorites and peridot. The differences could be found in smooth cabochons placed next to pavé and briolettes, or overlapping settings that created height and texture.
The new collection of Chanel jewellery achieved texture in many ways: through curved squares of Tahitian mother-of-pearl and rounded triangular shapes set with tiny diamonds to recreate its famous quilt, or by using large sections of rock crystal. One large Chanel cuff was carved from a single piece and then embellished with diamond-set metal, with the crystal acting as a magnifying glass for settings placed beneath it. Boucheron also worked rock crystal into some of its new designs, placing tiny bejewelled bird scenes within rock crystal pendants that swung from pearl necklaces.
While there were many more adventurous coloured gemstones to be found in these new collections, there was also a move towards celebrating the original holy trinity of gems that is ruby, sapphire and emerald; no doubt as a simplistic counter-reaction to our recent fascination with more exotic stones.
Showcasing this particularly well was the Dior jewellery collection, with a cabinet containing three classic suites of ruby, emerald and sapphire jewels, each with an oversized roll of ribbon next to it in the corresponding colour. Boucheron, meanwhile, had a single jewellery box mounted on a wall containing three rotating cocktail rings - one set with emeralds, another with rubies and a third with blue sapphires.
This nod towards traditionalism in no way stifled the creativity we expect to see at Couture Week. Case in point, the magnificent purple lacquer and amethyst Boucheron earrings that hook over the top of the ears and clip in place on the lobes before leading down to a long drop. And presented in a lustrous brown gold, which was achieved through rhodium plating, were the Lydia Courteille earrings featuring an unusual creation that connected an ear cuff to an earring, with removable strings of brownish, faceted tourmaline beads that sit under the chin.
Read more about the trend for long earrings
And just for fun, the gold and diamond pavé Chanel cuff had battled through some tricky technical ground to achieve its signature quilt, which rattles when you shake it. Not to fear though, it is the flexible gold plates rather than loose precious gems that make the very pleasurable clacking sound.