By Åse Anderson
A new Chanel high jewellery collection pays tribute to four classic signatures of Gabrielle Chanel, one of which - the ribbon - stands out in particular as a stunning reminder of the legendary fashion designer's obsession with certain motifs.
Entitled Les Intemporels, meaning "timeless", this latest collection of Chanel jewellery, launched to coincide with Haute Couture Week in Paris, consists of four mini collections, each of which is dedicated to one of Gabrielle Chanel's favourite things. The star, the camellia, the ribbon and the lion are all preserved in their most luxurious form in the shape of necklaces, earrings, rings and bracelets, crafted from white gold with diamonds, pearls, spinels and sapphires.
The Ruban (Ribbon) collection is especially beautiful, with a bow motif traced with glittering brilliant-cut diamonds. The ribbon was regularly used by Chanel in her fashion and jewellery designs in the 1920s and 30s. Consisting of 13 pieces, the Ruban collection is the only one to incorporate colour, with two stand-out rings set with blue and pink sapphires. The addition of Japanese cultured pearls in the three-strand Couture necklace and earrings, meanwhile, has resulted in two statement jewels that are classic pieces of Chanel jewellery.
The deceptively simple bow motif has been a constant in jewellery design since the late 17th century. A symbol of love or marriage, a bow brooch pinned close to the heart was said to signal that a woman was in love. During the French Revolution, the bow motif all but disappeared in jewellery design, only to return to fashion in the Edwardian era. Advances in jewellery-making techniques now allow designers to craft bows with an embroidery-like daintiness, set with diamonds or other gemstones.
Jewellers such as Tiffany & Co., Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels have all incorporated the bow motif into their high jewellery collections and, more recently, British jewellery designer Alice Cicolini created the Beau collection for Winterson, inspired by Georgian bows.
Read about the best high jewellery collections of 2015