Boucheron's new high jewels are fit for a snow queen

An Arctic chill runs through Boucheron's Hiver Impérial high jewellery collection, which captures the ice-white wilderness of the Far North to perfection.

Boucheron Hiver Impérial Baïkal necklace

Boucheron gave us a welcome break from the blazing hot weather in Paris last week by creating a winter wonderland, including a snow-dusted forest complete with owls hooting and Huskies howling, for the launch of its latest high jewellery collection. Nestled amongst the trees, brightly lit display cabinets were filled with the new Hiver Impérial jewels – an expansive collection inspired by the vast snowy wilderness of the Far North of Russia.

There is always much to admire in Boucheron’s annual high jewellery offerings, but this year the Arctic theme running through the collection was particularly beguiling. But why Russia? The answer lies in the history books. In 1897, Boucheron opened a shop in Moscow and became the first French jeweller with a presence in the city.

Not a single person walked by the sensational Baïkal necklace – the masterpiece of the collection – without stopping to drink in the details of this bodice-style jewel, adorned with more than 2,000 Akoya pearls. Taking centre stage is a 78.33-carat Santa Maria aquamarine, chosen because it resembles the colour of the crystal-clear waters of Lake Baïkal in Siberia. Accentuated by carved moonstones and aquamarine beads, it’s the kind of elaborate jewel that the Empress Maria Feodorovna – wife of Tsar Alexander III of Russia – would have taken enormous pleasure in wearing.

Hiver Impérial Grand Nord rock crystal and black spinel ring
Boucheron Hiver Impérial Grand Nord ring in white gold, photographed during Paris Couture Week in July. The carved rock crystal is filled with loose black spinels (POA).

What struck me was not just the sheer size of Hiver Impérial – 62 pieces in total, including four high jewellery watches – but the artistic use of rock crystal and unusual materials, perfectly illustrated by the large number of rings in the collection.

Carved rock crystal, a colourless, transparent variety of quartz, has been a favourite material of the Maison since the 1980s and it has been used extensively throughout Hiver Impérial, hollowed out and filled with loose black spinels, above, carved into a sphere and set with diamonds to resemble a snow globe or sliced and layered with diamonds to create a graphic interpretation of a polar night.

Hiver Impérial Rostov Aspen wood and diamond ring
Boucheron Hiver Imperial Rostov ring in white gold, set with a 2.55-carat VVS2 round diamond, pavé diamonds and Aspen wood that has been given a wintry silver patina (POA).

Elsewhere, Boucheron is reintroducing wood into the world of high jewellery. Given a wintry silver patina, Aspen wood has been carved into smooth cabochon-like shapes and set with graduated white diamonds around its contours – a chilly colour scheme warmed up by the tactile texture of the wood.

The Lumiere de Nacre ring features twisted slivers of mother-of-pearl, each identical to the next. It may look deceptively simple compared to some of the grander Hiver Impérial creations, but fragile mother-of-pearl is a deceptively difficult material to master.

Nestled amongst the trees were Boucheron's new Hiver Impérial jewels – an expansive collection inspired by the vast snowy wilderness of the Far North of Russia.
Hiver Impérial Dôme Graphique tanzanite and pearl ring
The prettiest ring in the collection is Boucheron’s Hiver Imperial Dome Graphique ring in white gold, which is set with a 12.41-carat pear-cut tanzanite, carved blue chalcedony and Akoya cultured pearls and pavé diamonds (POA).

The dreamiest ring in the collection is set with a 12.41-carat electric-blue pear-cut tanzanite surrounded by tiny rows of diamonds and a band of carved chalcedony. The finishing touch is a row of pure-white Akoya pearls set, lace-like, around the edges of the ring.

Pearls are the gem that holds the collection together – perfect white spheres that are the closest thing to snow in the jewellery world. Given the chance to take a closer look at several of the jewels in the collection, I was drawn to the earrings, below. The perfect storm of graduated white cultured pearls, they spiral inwards, sending a spray of diamonds out from the edges.

Hiver Impérial Nuit Etoile Akoya pearl earrings
Boucheron Nuit Etoilée earrings in 18-carat white gold with swirls of cultured Akoya pearls, pavéd with diamonds (POA).

There are so many pieces to love in this collection that it is difficult to choose a favourite, but the boule ring, below, is definitely in the running. With diamond icicles dripping down the frosted quartz, it captures perfectly the wild and untamed beauty of the Arctic, a place where few people dare to venture.  

Hiver Impérial frosted quartz ring
Boucheron Hiver Impérial ring set with frosted quartz, pavéd with diamonds, on white gold and titanium (POA). 

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