Garden theme helps grow inspiration

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 April, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 April, 2009, 12:00am

Van Cleef & Arpels is looking to greener pastures with its Les Jardins high-jewellery collection. Inspired from four distinct garden styles, the collection explores the classic, romantic and architectural sides of nature.

Van Cleef & Arpels unveiled the collection on February 11 at its boutique in Prince's Building, redesigning the space into replicas of the four themed gardens.

Mandarin and citrus fruit trees adorn the Jardin de la Renaissance Italienne, while Jardin d'Extreme Orient showcases a quintessentially Asian garden complete with bamboo shoots. Jardin Romantique Anglais brims with blossoms and leafy stalks, while geometric order structures the Jardin a la Francaise.

The jewellery collection, worth more than HK$200million, was displayed in the gardens and the exhibition was open to the public until March7.

Van Cleef & Arpels had a long history of producing nature-inspired jewellery, and Benjamin Vuchot, Asia-Pacific managing director, said that this collection sought to explore the different ways in which mankind related to nature.

'We wanted to understand how much mankind can tame nature, and explore the creative process that allows each man-made garden to look completely different,' he said.

Classic Italian gardens, for example, often showcased sculptures and fountains, while he described the Oriental garden as 'Kyoto-like' in its serenity, balance and harmonious blend with its surrounding environment. French gardens traditionally incorporate the artistic lines of architecture into their aesthetics, while the English gardens, Mr Vuchot's favourite, are designed in a deliberate haphazard fashion, which he described as 'structured in a destructured way'.

The collection took two years to create, and Mr Vuchot said that much of the company's research was focused on the status and symbolic nature of gardens in history.

'Take the Versailles gardens, for example, an 18th century signature,' he said. 'The garden was a statement made by the people of that time to represent their culture.'

The art of gardening came down to more than just aesthetics, with generations of civilisations using them as demonstrations of power. From imported blooms and avant garde designs to even the size of the fountain display, much of the owner's wealth and status are determined by a quick assessment of their outdoor grounds.

Mr Vuchot said that the new collection was meant to take on the defining characteristics of each of the four gardens, carrying with them the symbolism associated with the affluent and influential.

Jardin de la Renaissance Italienne is a collection of pieces that pay homage to the many sculptures displayed in Italian gardens.

Temple de Venus is a necklace set with diamonds and emerald beads, with an intricately designed temple as the pendant. Lucrezia is a brooch inspired by the historical figure Lucrezia Borgia, depicting her famed beauty in sapphires, diamonds and pear-shaped tanzanites.

The designs in the Jardin d'Extr?me Orient borrow recognised Oriental symbols such as the pavilion and the paper lantern.

The pavilion appeared in Pavilion d'Or, a necklace and earrings set complete with a matching brooch. Set with pink, mauve and yellow sapphires, garnet and diamonds, the pavilions are centred among a backdrop of drooping leafy branches.

The necklace also comes with purple star sapphires as a highlight, while the brooch has a pink star sapphire.

Fuji discreetly dangles a paper lantern design from the back of the necklace, while mauve sapphires, amethysts, peridots and diamonds make up the hanging bunches of grapes in the front.

Jardin Romantique Anglais is a collection of pieces mimicking the cascading blossoms and vivid colours of an English garden. R?verie, for example, is a peridot, sapphire and diamond brooch depicting a twisted tree with leafy boughs hanging down, complete with a swing on one of its branches.

Meanwhile, the Garance (French for poppy) brooch features rubies, emeralds, sapphires and grey cultured pearls for a vibrant splash of colour.

The pieces in the Jardin a la Fran?aise take on the geometrical element of the garden through rigid, patterned lines and mirroring swirls.

Le Notre is a necklace and earrings set designed with sugar-loaf emeralds and diamonds, with the necklace's hanging design resembling a stretch of garden with garden groves on each side, leading up to a waterfall near the collarbone. The earrings are also designed after waterfalls, with emerald bases matching the necklace.