By Maria Doulton in Paris
Celebrating 140 years of existence, Piaget was certain to pull out all the stops for the Biennale des Antiquaires. And my visit to this Paris show confirms that Piaget has indeed put on an impressive display of jewellery prowess.
Looking at the rich array of mainly blue and green jewels, I can firmly say that Piaget has found its groove in these Extremely Piaget jewels with their hint of the 1970s - the Swiss firm's finest era of jewellery making.
What I saw not only channels the aesthetics of the decade of grooviness but also its spirit of unbridled creativity and a willingness to experiment. And so though I clearly recognised the lapis lazuli beads, the exotic stone dials and the large cuffs, these jewels are so very new and made to be worn - even in the pool.
Piaget started life as a watchmaker that, over time, became specialised in ultra-thin movements that freed up space for its designers to experiment with colourful stone dials. From wristwatches with turquoise, lapis lazuli and malachite dials, the house ventured into more daring jewellery watches. It was a natural transition from the panache of the large gold cuff watches decorated with diamonds and precious stones to creating jewels to match.
The Extremely Piaget sautoir watch presented at the Biennale is a good example of bringing watches and jewellery together. Casually worn poolside is this long, lariat-style chain of rose gold, punctuated by golden ovals, some which are filled in with sky-blue turquoise. The last of these is in fact a watch dial that swings freely across the torso. This same carefree approach to jewels beams out from a green and blue tasseled necklace of turquoise and chrysoprase beads, cinched by a flower.
Exuding a sexy swagger, the Palace necklace is perhaps my favourite design from the new Extremely Piaget jewellery collection. Shining with the optimism and girl power of the 1970s, gold plaques are linked to form flat ribbons that drape down the neck. The gold is then deeply engraved or chased by hand to sparkle like the sun. This brilliance of texture is the backdrop to an explosion of turquoise beads and diamonds that adorn the necklace. Like all these jewels, they move freely, and the articulated ribbons of gold and the long chain of diamonds tipped with turquoise beads sway with each move.
The matching cuff fizzes with joy, the wide, chased-gold bracelet topped with a froth of turquoise beads and more diamonds. And even the most precious diamonds become playful. Take the impressive long necklace of diamonds set into a pink gold chain. The emerald beads and cabochons, all soft shapes and flowing lines, make this jewel tactile and very desirable.
No Piaget jewellery show would be complete without watches, and a stone beloved of the 70s makes a comeback in a white gold cuff watch with a shimmering blue opal dial and matching earrings. And the famous rippling waves of gold of the original 1970s Piaget cuff watches are back again in the new Piaget 'Slave' cuff watches. Cuff bracelets are also back with thin slices of precious stones such as opal set into a cage of gold.
Stars of the show are the diamond and sapphire necklaces with swirls of brilliantly bright diamonds and sapphires. Though diamonds and sapphires may be more traditional precious stones, the look is young and very wearable thanks to the lightness of the white gold settings and the delicate cascade effect. This high jewellery wears it value lightly.
And playing with the idea of wearing jewels as clothes, a spherical diamond-set watch dangles from a long navel-grazing chain that is attached to a white gold mesh collar. Yes, the kind of Peter Pan-style collar you would find on a blouse - ingenious and so very Piaget.