Treasure hunters

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 April, 2012, 12:00am


The luxury jewellery market is flourishing as a growing demand for top-quality and unique pieces keeps the industry rolling in the good times. Arnaud Bastien, regional director of Graff Diamonds for Asia, says the wealthiest clients are always looking for rare and exclusive pieces.

In the last few months, customers were not only seeking design and craftsmanship but gems that offer only the very best in quality, colour and, increasingly, uniqueness. 'Clients are getting more educated and, with the recent economic uncertainty, they realised they should invest in the very best gems because they are tangible assets and a true expression of rarity,' Bastien says.

Clients are also demanding rare pieces that will keep their value, much like antiques, rather than pieces produced in the hundreds that are no longer distinguishable and set with stones that are more commonly found. 'They have a downside. They can be out of fashion in just a few years,' Bastien says.

Graff's latest necklaces and earrings dazzle with precious stones in quintessential classic style. Inspired by Chinese paintings, its Scroll necklaces swirl and drape to ensure rubies, emeralds, sapphires and diamonds catch the light at every twist. The same precious gems are used in the brand's Lotus collection to create a waterfall-like effect, with the stones arranged to evoke the flower's petals.

Consumers continue to demand goods they can connect with. According to Christoph Wellendorff, chief executive of Wellendorff, several factors are becoming increasingly important. 'Consumers all over the globe look for jewellery with a meaning,' he says. The response to its Angel's Wings collection, which arrives in Hong Kong next month, reinforced this message. 'We received so many comments from our customers about how important it is to link real meaning with jewellery,' Wellendorff says.

Wellendorff says consumers also want guarantees that jewellery is made from the best goldsmiths and not mass-produced. 'They want to know where and how the jewellery is made,' he says.

Brands say the retail market is becoming stronger. Chopard says retailers are demanding more branded jewellery and opening up opportunities for brands, but it adds that innovation, creativity and the quality of stones are all attributing to the healthy state of the market.

Collections are bursting with colour and playfulness. Chopard's Red Carpet collection for next month's Cannes Film Festival blazes with rubies, emeralds, padparadscha sapphires, tanzanite and kunzite, which set the scene for a 65-piece collection including an apple-shaped ring sparkling with 800 tsavorites and more than 200 brown diamonds.

The brand's Precious Temptations collection is vibrant with colour. Tangy-hued necklaces, earrings and rings feature gems in shades of raspberry, pistachio green and blackberry that hint at summer fruits.

Colour explodes at Van Cleef & Arpels too. Its new Couleurs de Paradis collection of birds, butterflies and dragonflies becomes the brand's new Garden of Eden. Birds have provided a source of inspiration for the maison for more than 100 years. The collection echoes the changing colours of the sky and the plumage of birds.

And with true Van Cleef & Arpels craftsmanship, its Oiseaux Amoureux Sautoir - the long necklace and detachable clip that are a signature of the brand in every collection - sees an exquisitely crafted pendant featuring a bird sitting on a perch surrounded by an eye-catching curtain of turquoise beads. Other pieces in the collection include a necklace called Oiseau Flamboyant, where a bird suspends in full flight on a string of red beads.

Tiffany is setting its own agenda in terms of materials. To mark its 175th anniversary, it unveils a new metal called rubedo. Named after the Latin word for red used by alchemists, a fusion of gold, silver and copper gives the metal a reddish hue that is highly polished. An elongated cuff shows off the metal to its best but the collection also includes a ring and padlock pendant as well as a necklace and pendant that interlace rubedo and sterling silver circles.