Courtesy of Louis Vuitton
When the jewelry is this spectacular, it deserves a party. Last week Louis Vuitton flew celebrities and clients to Monaco for a fabulous evening at La Vigie restaurant to celebrate the launch of their Bravery high jewelry collection. Actresses Alicia Vikander, Laura Harrier, and Maria Bakalova turned out in the strikingly glamorous new jewels, each a one-of-a-kind design that was several months—and for some, even years in the making. It was the first big night out for many guests since Covid restrictions were lifted, which was yet another reason to celebrate.
After a long Covid pause, party season is back for high jewelry. These are the kinds of jewelry masterpieces that come to life on women at events, when they can be seen sparkling on the dance floor or dazzling by candlelight. These jewels weren’t meant for a store showcase; they need parties to show off their radiance, artistry, and vivacious spirit.
High jewelry is about feeling and storytelling. And Bulgari created high emotions when it unveiled its Magnifica collection at a two-day celebration in Milan where VIP guests, including Lily Aldridge and Bianca Brandolini, were treated to a private concert at La Scala, where Pietro Mianiti directed famous compositions by Verdi, Puccini, and Bellini. The weekend celebrated Italy’s artistry in music, culture, and culinary arts, and the jewels paid homage to Bulgari’s 137-year Roman heritage. Guests had their first glimpse of the spectacular jewels on celebrities and models that evening, and the following day they had private viewings at the Bulgari Hotel where lunch was prepared by Michelin-starred chef Niko Romito, while Italy’s youngest-ever orchestra conductor Beatrice Venezi gave a performance in the hotel’s lush gardens. The house made it easy to fall in love with Italy— and the jewels.
Cartier hosted VIP guests at the picturesque Lake Como as soon as the EU opened its borders to travelers. The brand chose the location because it symbolizes rebirth at a time when everyone is reawakening. For two weeks in June, guests were presented with Sixième Sens, a collection of 250 pieces including 80 new designs and over 150 vintage pieces under the Cartier Tradition moniker. The stylized new jewels featured bursts of colorful gemstones, organic textures, and abstract interpretations of the house’s iconic panther. The pieces were presented at a series of festive events at the Il Sereno Lago di Como hotel, which was newly renovated by designer Patricia Urquiola, and clients had the first chance to purchase the jewels before they started on an international tour.
Chanel and Dior staged events in Asia for the release of their 2021 collections. In June, Chanel unveiled the No. 5 high jewelry in Hong Kong, a tribute to the 100th anniversary of Chanel No. 5 perfume. Dior hosted a dreamy candlelit dinner for clients in Chengdu for its 116-piece Dior Rose high jewelry. For the occasion, Maria Grazia Chiuri, Dior’s creative director of women’s collections, dressed models in specially created pastel-colored pleated gowns as a backdrop for the colorful floral jewels.
Pre-covid, these lavish high jewelry dinners and weekend events were something VIP clients highly anticipated since they were about more than just seeing fabulous jewels; they were an opportunity to experience the house in a more intimate way. Yes, people still bought jewels during Covid—and lot of jewels—on Zoom or the internet and in private viewings, but it’s clear nothing compares to the magic of a gala event that brings the spirit of jewelry to life. High jewelry is about emotion—the connection to a stone that is hundreds or thousands of years of old, the heritage, and the craftsmanship, and these events underscore the stories and create a setting where emotions run wild.
However, the main attraction does remain the new jewels. The brands don’t simply revisit their archives for these elaborate designs, they evolve and innovate through technique, technology and visionary ideas—always walking a fine line between staying true to their core values while creating unforgettable pieces for the next generation. Those include Cartier’s Phaan ring, which creates a visual illusion with a rare reddish-pink 8.2-carat ruby superimposed over a four-carat diamond set with layers of spherical rubies and triangle-cut diamonds. Another stand-out: the Parhelia ring which spans over three fingers and is crowned with a dreamy 21.51-carat cabochon-cut blue sapphire and framed by diamonds and emeralds in colors that echo the house’s signature “peacock motif” that was named by Louis Cartier.
For Francesca Amfitheatrof’s third high jewelry collection for Louis Vuitton, the creative director paid homage to the 200th anniversary of the birth of the company’s pioneering founder. It took more than three years to assemble the extraordinary gems for the 90-piece Bravery collection, which features a rich palette of diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds in bold pieces, like the Constellation of Hercules series, and sweeping diamond necklaces and earrings that are so articulated they appear like ribbons of sparkling gold.
Victorie de Castellane combines her playful spirit with remarkable technical prowess to create figurative jeweled roses, one of Mr. Christian Dior’s favorite blooms. The Rose Mantique necklace is a naturalistic expression featuring gold branches dusted with diamonds, colorful petals in garnets, amethysts, rhodolite, and Paraiba tourmalines, and a blue Myanmar sapphire pistil. Pairing precious gemstones with glossy bright lacquer is de Castellane’s signature style, and expressed in several blooms, including a pair of diamond Rose Mantique earrings outlined with green lacquer leaves.
At Bulgari’s Milan celebration, the house presented 122 pieces, which is just the first part of its 350-piece tribute to the brand’s Roman heritage. The most unforgettable design is the Imperial Spinel, a 131-carat stone set in a diamond and emerald necklace that took craftsmen more than 1,400 hours to create, but who’s keeping track? It’s the world’s fourth-largest spinel (the larger ones are part of the British and Russian crown jewels)—and this one is fit for royalty—or the one lucky clients at the party who got first dibs on the necklace.
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