Winged fine jewellery is our latest flight of fancy

The latest winged jewels from brands including Garrard and Wendy Yue offer a contemporary update on an ancient motif in jewellery design.

Nicholas Liu Cosmos earrings with diamonds and pearls.

By Rachel Garrahan in New York

Whether they belong to an angel, bird or butterfly, winged jewellery has been around since ancient times, appealing to the common desire for freedom and escape, whether real or imagined. 

Arguably the most famous wings in the world, those worn by Daedalus and his son Icarus in Greek mythology, were the inspiration for Nicholas Lieou's new collection. It features wings in various forms of beautiful decay that illustrate Icarus' flight too close to the sun, which melted the wax holding them together. Pearls represent the sea into which he eventually fell.

Jasmine Alexander's magnificent, one-of-a-kind emerald ring for Gemfields features owl wings so lifelike that it appears as though the wearer's hand could practically take off.  The poet jeweller also created Ascent Victorious, a ring-as-sculpture that features feathers rising upwards from rubies and diamonds, "like a phoenix rising from the flames," she explains.

Garrard, the world's oldest jewellery house, last year celebrated a decade of its iconic Wings collection with a number of new pieces, including a beautifully crafted white gold cuff. An angel wing wraps itself around the wrist, its lines embellished with brilliant and rose cut diamonds.

Always on hand for a flash of fantasy, Wendy Yue's butterfly wings adds a burst of colour, while Turkish designer Arman Suciyan's bejewelled swan wraps its wings elegantly around the finger.

Leyla Abdollahi's Lust and Lure collection is inspired by art deco themes and colour but is undeniably modern. Her dramatic mismatched ear cuffs with black onyx-carved wings and emeralds and diamonds that dangle suggestively from the ear are a deliciously dark interpretation of this ancient motif.

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