New reality: if you think you can't afford it, you don't need to ask

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 February, 2009, 12:00am

The most surprising and unusual aspect of Chanel's Bijoux de Diamants jewellery exhibition, which opened with a reception at the Mandarin Oriental Connaught Room on Tuesday, wasn't that it paid tribute to Coco Chanel's very first jewellery collection in 1932, or that some of the standout pieces are presented against a video backdrop that creates a three-dimensional outer-space feel. No, what was unbelievable was that most of the displays included a price tag.

Clearly, the days of unlimited budgets and 'cost is no concern' are over. Surely, this was a delicate way to allow guests who might have been hit hard by the recession to find out certain baubles are now out of their range without the embarrassment of asking the price.

'This new collection draws inspiration from Coco Chanel's first haute couture jewellery designs in 1932. The popular Chanel symbols, such as fringes, comet, star, camellia flower, are being used,' a Chanel spokesman said.

No doubt the bling was bodacious. However, we wonder how many folks are willing and able to part with cold hard cash these days, other than a trust-fund baby like Mara Rhomberg (pictured), daughter of Kee Club and Club 97 founder Christian Rhomberg, who was one of the few legitimate society scions there.

'I love this exhibition,' the teenager said. 'My favourite piece is the antique platinum Cometes diamond necklace from Chanel's own vintage collection. Supposedly, Coco Chanel had worn this piece before. I share with my mother her jewellery collection to wear at the moment. My mother has a stunning collection of Indian-inspired large pieces which I really like.'

After tonight, the Bijoux de Diamants collection moves to Chanel's boutique in Prince's Building until March 15.