During Couture Week in Paris this July, American jeweller Tiffany presented the Masterpieces 2015 collection at its flagship Champs-Élysées store. Under the guidance of design director Francesca Amfitheatrof, who joined the firm in 2013, Masterpieces shows us a fresh new take on the rich design heritage behind Tiffany jewellery.
Unlike the Blue Book collections, which once a year bring together a wide array of jewellery styles - from Schlumberger archive pieces to modern classics - Tiffany Masterpieces has a strong and tightly executed theme, which stands out in each and every piece. Though each is quite different in these very graphic and geometric jewels, Amfitheatrof expresses the glamour of New York as dusk settles over the city. As the stars gently begin to shine and city lights puncture the night sky, the promise of the evening beckons. In their high-rise apartments, women check their lipstick and fasten the clasp of a diamond jewellery necklace before heading out into the night.
It is this twilight moment that Tiffany Masterpieces captures. And what better way to convey the mood than with diamonds? “I’ve focused on diamonds to create an extremely modern collection that is very sculptural,” says Amfitheatrof. The jewels may be modern, but Amfitheatrof deftly weaves in subtle design references that ring bells on first sight. To achieve this, Amfitheatrof scoured Tiffany’s 178-year-old archives and, like the best Martini, these potent, high-carat diamond necklaces, earrings, rings and bracelets are lightly infused with an essence of the past.
The most unapologetically glamorous and, of course, my favourite pieces, are the necklace and matching bracelet comprised of rows of luxuriantly draped yellow gold chains, generously studded with rose-cut diamonds that end in a tassel of five playful diamond-set gold balls. These high jewellery pieces bring to mind the excitement of the decorative style from the 1940s to 1960s known as “Hollywood Regency”, which can loosely be described as America’s flamboyant evolution and interpretation of European Art Deco.
I tried on the bracelet and, with the five shimmering diamond balls rolling over the back of my hand, I could purr with contentment. More diamond-set balls appear on the tips of a 1960s-inspired bangle, which would not look out of place wrapped around a wrist at Studio 54 - the famous nightclub haunt of Andy Warhol, Bianca Jagger and their wild friends.
The Art Deco influence on New York’s skyline is evident in the stepped lines of diamonds that encircle the neck, paying homage to the city’s dramatic nightscape. Onyx and diamond earrings offer bold geometric shapes, while disc pendants of the same materials remind us of the random patterns formed as the lake in Central Park freezes over, probably spotted from a penthouse balcony on a wintry evening. A bracelet of baguette diamonds echoes the shape of a tank track and moves in much the same way - a masterpiece of craftsmanship and diamond setting.