By Rebecca Doulton in Madrid
Carrera y Carrera, Spain's most reputable international high jewellery house, has enriched its sumptuous Seda Imperial (Imperial Silk) collection with the latest Sierpes line. All four lines in the collection - Emperatriz, Orquídea, Garzas and Sierpes - are directly inspired by one of Spain's most beloved and symbolic accessories: the Manila shawl.
From Bizet's tragic heroine Carmen to flamenco dancers and high society ladies, the Manila silk shawl is intimately identified with Spanish traditions. Such is the association that when first lady Michelle Obama visited the south of Spain in 2010 she was presented with a Manila shawl.
Originally imported to Spain from the port of Manila in the Philippines - a former colony and trading post with the Far East since the late 16th century - these elaborately embroidered Chinese shawls made their way into the wardrobes of Seville's female aristocracy. It wouldn't be long before the sensual touch and fluid movements of the shawl attracted the attention of flamenco dancers, creating an indelible artistic fusion between East and West.
The Sierpes line, crafted in white and yellow gold with diamonds, focuses on the wonderful flowing fringes and textures that animate and decorate the Manila shawl. The collection is named after one of Seville's most emblematic shopping streets, whose serpentine trajectory reminded the designers at Carrera y Carrera of the movement of the silk fringes they have lovingly recreated.
All the pieces of high jewellery in Sierpes are distinguished by the application of a delicate gold and diamond grid of latticework, which represents the openwork part of the shawl that appears just before the fringes cascade freely.
The vogue for combining semi-precious stones with precious stones is reflected in the Sierpes line, with moonstone, onyx and chalcedony married with diamonds set in white or yellow gold to dramatic effect. In the case of the Sierpes Maxi earrings and necklaces, the latticework unwinds in long, free-flowing fringes of white or yellow gold chains that sway with your every movement.
The large oval-shaped rings, set with black onyx, chalcedony or moonstone, are provocatively veiled by a gold and diamond lattice and show why Carrera y Carrera is renowned worldwide for its beautifully sculpted work featured here on the flower and shoulders of the band. There is nothing restrained or sober about these exquisitely crafted pieces, which are an open invitation to indulge in a moment of Spanish passion.