By Maria Doulton
Jewellery and ballet make natural partners. Perfection, grace and beauty are at the heart of each of these two disciplines, which enrich our lives with their ability to tell a story without words. So it was natural for Boodles, the 217-year-old British jeweller, to turn to London's historic Royal Ballet when looking for the perfect partner. The result is the 'Pas de Deux; Inspired by The Royal Ballet' collection of 35 exquisite pieces of Boodles jewellery in platinum and diamonds, which reflect a perfectly choreographed partnership of trust, precision and empathy.
This is the first major Boodles jewellery collaboration, and to mark the occasion it has published a book of the same name to accompany the new collection. The book documents the journey of creation, from the minutiae of backstage life to the breathtaking beauty of the dancers in action, both on and off stage, as well as the high jewellery worn by them.
Without revealing all of the jewels - they will be unveiled this summer - these images capture the many aspects of dance that have inspired Boodles' design team.
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The journey started many years ago as Boodles' creative director, Rebecca Hawkins, has always loved ballet. As a design student, Rebecca would wait outside the Opera House in London's Covent Garden hoping for a last-minute ticket for a performance. Sitting up in the gods - so called because these seats are quite literally in the sky at the very back of the theatre - Rebecca was moved by ballet.
Today, Rebecca's love of ballet takes on a very real form through the 'Pas de Deux; Inspired by The Royal Ballet' high jewellery collection, although she has not opted for a literal interpretation. The forms are abstract and geometric, and echo the shapes, shadows and spot-lit silhouettes made by dance partners. "I wanted to give the impression of elongation, of bridge and of muscular tension," explains Rebecca. So don't expect sequins and tutus, but a contemporary expression in diamonds and precious metals that capture those fleeting moments of perfection.
The year-long journey from conception to workshop saw Rebecca immersed in the world of The Royal Ballet. As well as sitting in the theatre watching the gravity-defying grace of a polished performance, Rebecca absorbed the atmosphere by discreetly watching the day-to-day reality of life backstage, including the gruelling and raw physicality of rehearsals. In the costume-making workshops, Rebecca watched outfits being painstakingly stitched by hand. Delving into the archives allowed her to understand how choreographs are annotated and the very technical structure of dance that underpins the virtuoso final performances.
Alex Beard CBE, chief executive of The Royal Opera House, which presents 500 ballet and opera performances a year, remarks: "The partnership between Boodles and The Royal Ballet has been an extraordinary coming together of two iconic British companies, which combine the very best of tradition with the contemporary designs and ideas of today."