It’s not easy to create the sensation of flexibility and movement when you’re working with some of the world’s hardest gemstones.
Yet, through skilful setting and craftsmanship – and with a little help from technology these days – jewellery maisons have been making incredible strides in this direction. So much so, that French maison Cartier has dedicated a whole collection to this theme with its new Résonances de Cartier, which last month celebrated the second chapter of its launch at its New York City flagship store.
The event was part of the largest high jewellery exhibition in North America, featuring 500 pieces of Cartier’s classic haute joaillerie pieces, and 64 pieces from Résonances de Cartier. The collection, first launched in London in the summer, will be travelling to Japan, Hong Kong and mainland China.
The new collection is distinguished by the fluidity of its designs and the dazzling stones that fire up the centrepieces.
One of the highlights on display in New York at “The Cartier Haute Joaillerie Exhibition” was a stunning necklace, featuring 13 perfectly matched cabochon Zambian emeralds totalling 79.20ct, set against a cascade of brilliant cut diamonds, giving the impression of a water ripple.
“It was very interesting to express the resonance because here you can see the echo in the pattern of the movement of the emerald, like a ripple in the lake,” says Jacqueline Karachi, creative director for Cartier high jewellery. “In this one you can really understand what resonance is. I wanted to enunciate the energy of the stone and we translated that into the design. Here you can see the colour, the echo, the movement, and the resonance.”
Cartier didn’t set out to produce a collection that played on the theme of fluidity and cadence. It all starts with the gemstones that they find, Karachi says. “Everything begins with the stones. We want to express something different every time around the stones.
“We feel the energy of the stones and want to translate it into the designs. For the cabochon emeralds, it was the first time we had managed to find a set of matching stones.”
Another piece that illustrates this theme is a stunning pink gold bangle, which highlights a radiant 84.10ct cushion-shaped watermelon tourmaline, offset by an 8.01ct cushion-shaped yellow green sapphire, with baguette-cut coloured sapphires, brown, light orange and white brilliant-cut diamonds on the cuff.
“We have been going around the world to find new and interesting stones and it was the first time I have seen such a [big] tourmaline,” Karachi says.
“The fire is incredible. Often, we can find very beautiful diamonds and we can find very energetic semi-precious stones and it is good to mix them together sometimes because the dialogue is very interesting.
“Sometimes the very small diamond enunciates the colour of the semi-precious gem to give it life. In this case, the green sapphire was waiting for another stone to play its part.”
The fluidity of the designs and the flexibility in transforming the pieces are in line with Cartier’s take on the modern woman, who is able to slip into different lives each day: one minute she may be a casual homemaker, next a hard-minded career woman, and in the evenings, a seductive sophisticate. It’s why many of the new pieces are transformable: necklaces with stones that can be detached and worn separately as pendants, brooches or earrings.
“The designs may look simple but the techniques behind them are complicated,” Karachi says. “The versatility is so important to the modern woman. They have many different aspects to their lives every day and need to adjust their jewellery. For every piece we need to make it flexible because the woman of today is always moving.
“Every woman is different but they love the same pieces. Even when they are wearing the pieces, it looks completely different [from woman to woman]. It’s like a dialogue between the jewellery and the women.”
With unique pieces, such as those in the Résonances de Cartier collection, it is normally not cost effective for maisons to produce actual prototypes, but three-dimensional printing has allowed craftsman to work with a model to produce more flexible and dimensional pieces. The technology has also allowed the maison’s craftsmen to produce one of the most 3D evolutions of their signature panther.
The aquamarine beaded necklace shows a lifelike panther set with brilliant-cut diamonds and emerald eyes, which is pacing out from a curtain of “water”, represented by two dangling pear-shaped aquamarines and two briolette-cut ones.
“For us, the evolution of the panther symbolises the evolution of women,” Karachi says. “We wanted to express a movement and an attitude.”