Certain jewels spring to mind when you think of gemstones. The “big four”, emeralds, rubies, sapphires and diamonds, have been sought-after by those seeking jewelled objects that court a familiarity – an aesthetic beauty, and a value, sentimental or monetary, for example.
This surge in demand has exacerbated the supply and demand issue of gems already limited in quantity, pushing prices up and forcing designers to find more creative ways to appeal to consumers. As a result, jewellery brands are reviving the image of semi-precious stones with collections that are bursting with a vibrant force of life.
The trend began with a profusion of blue gems, Paraiba tourmalines and tanzanite to lapis lazuli, chalcedony, topaz and aquamarine appearing in collections from Van Cleef & Arpels, Tiffany & Co., Boucheron, De Grisogono and Chopard.
The lower price of some of these coloured stones has helped their popularity grow, and the variety is helping create, “fascinating high-jewellery collections with different choices of diamonds and coloured stones”, says Chopard’s co-president and creative director, Caroline Scheufele.
Chopard’s Red Carpet collection is a celebration of colour with sapphires, emeralds and diamonds paired with fire opals, topaz, rubellites and amethyst across a bold collection. Striking is a pair of earrings where two fire opals are suspended from a cluster of mandarin garnet cabochons, flashes of coloured sapphire cabochons and diamonds, and a rose gold and titanium ring of rubellites, yellow sapphires and amethysts that fan out from a large, rubellite cabochon.
Rare coloured gemstones can be as valuable as some of the prestigious jewels, and can make “wonderful” additions to a collection for the gemstone connoisseur, says Tiffany & Co. chief gemologist, Melvyn Kirtley. “Nature has given us some treasures. It’s finding them that’s the most difficult task.” Tiffany & Co.’s Blue Book collection is called The Art of Transformation.
Cartier’s Cactus collection was a masterful mix of coloured gems, with green chrysoprase beads and juicy orange carnelians forming spiky interpretations of the cactus plant that captured the beauty of the desert plant.
Its new Magicien collection uses semi-precious gems more sparingly. as the rarest aquamarines, peridot, tourmaline and rubellite can be expensive.
Coloured gems such as lapis lazuli, malachite, turquoise and onyx are paired with precious emeralds and diamonds to bring creations to life in the new L’Arche de Noe racontee collection by Van Cleef & Arpels. The collection is due in Hong Kong in March.
Bulgari began using gems for their chromatic effect in the 1950s with daring, bold designs that made the cabochon the heart of its bloodline.
Its new Magnificent Inspirations collection is exuberant, with strings of audacious cabochons and vivid gems that capture the dolce vita of Italian culture.