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Lifelike flower petal rings, a watch inspired by a chic Parisian apartment, a necklace reminiscent of the traditional adornments of the Kenyan Masai tribe, a tiara with nearly one thousand white diamonds, a bracelet that appears on the hand of the wearer as if it is a golden tattoo, a cuff inspired by the play of light on snow in Northern Europe. The July 2018 haute joaillerie presentations drew their inspiration and romance from literally every corner of the world. You can call it high jewelry, or fine jewelry, or even fine jewellery. We just call it gorgeous.

Twice a year in Paris, just after the haute couture shows have finished, spectacular new  jewelry collections are unveiled in the haute joaillerie presentations. These are traditionally far more discreet affairs than their showy cousins in apparel (although that seems to be changing).

In various venues across the city, from the opulent flagships of the Place Vendôme to grand dame hotels and small museums, sparkling and opulent new collections are unveiled all over Paris. Each piece is one-of-a-kind, and can take up to 12 months to create. They’re brilliant examples of artisanship, on par with the fabulous gowns emerging from designer ateliers.

From the Dior Dior Dior high jewelry collection

It’s a rarefied world, with each maison and designer striving to offer the ne plus ultra in craftsmanship, design and stones. Prices start in the mid-six figures for rings and earrings, and go up from there, so these are not everyday baubles – they’re out of reach for most of us. But why not dream a little dream? Here’s our run-down on the latest dazzling offerings in high jewelry from the July 2018 shows. Choose your favorite, and make a wish.

Necklace from the Boucheron Eternal Flowers collection

Here’s an overview of the stunning creations from 12 legendary maisons and 3 up-and-coming designers:

Chanel: Chanel’s new collection was inspired by the decorative dressing screens that once graced Gabrielle Chanel’s apartment in Paris at 31 Rue Cambon. The designer used then as movable walls, and often cited them as among her favorite possessions. The Coromandel screens inspired a collection divided into three themes (floral, animal and mineral) and centered on paneled pieces. One show-stopper is a reversible cuff that can be flipped to reveal either a classic Chanel black-and-white floral design, or a vibrant vignette of yellow diamonds and sapphires. There are brilliant diamond necklaces, and delicate diamond-studded recreations of the Chinese illustrations of flora and fauna on Coco’s screens recreated on five brooches and a gorgeous watch.

Chanel Coromandel Watch


Boucheron is celebrating its 160th birthday this year. In January, the luxury jeweler hosted its first-ever haute joallerie immersive exhibition. Now in this anniversary year, the new Nature Triomphante collection has been hailed as the most innovative in the history of the maison. While it features stunning necklaces fashioned from miniature hydrangeas and ivy leaves, the show-stoppers in the collection are the Eternal Flowers rings: a lifelike collection of nine rings made of titanium, gold and a milieu of gemstones reprising peonies, roses, hortensias, and anemones. The hyper-realistic jewels, which took three years of research and development to create, were crafted using state-of-the-art scientific techniques. Petals of live flowers were preserved, set in fine layers of titanium, finished with a light lacquer gloss and then ornamented with precious stones like garnets and sapphires, and stamens of pink gold. Mounted on simple bands made of gold or titanium, the effect is as if the wearer has tied a stem around the finger.

Boucheron Eternal Flowers rings

Chaumet‘s vibrant new high jewelry collection, Tresors D’Afrique, is its first to be inspired by sub-Saharan Africa. Presented in three “chapters,” the theme was the result of a Chaumet executive’s chance encounter with the work of the Kenyan artist Evans Mbugua, who designed six charming animal brooches in the collection, including a gold crouching lion with blue, yellow and pink sapphires and diamonds, and a multicolored enamel giraffe, its head poking through a rock-crystal cloud. The Terres d’Or pieces are designed to emulate the graphic patterns of Ghanaian Kente cloth; the Rondes de Pierres pieces combine hundreds of beads of red spinels, emeralds, sapphires and mandarin garnets in collars and disc-shaped earrings reminiscent of the traditional adornments of the Kenyan Masai tribe. The Cascades Royales necklace was inspired by Kenyan bridal jewelry.

A brooch from the Chaumet Tresors D’Afrique collection designed by artist Evans Mbugua

Cartier. As part of its 240-piece Coloratura collection, celebrating the colors and traditional celebrations of artistic cultures around the world, Cartier visited Africa (its Kanaga set is inspired by African masks featured shield-shaped diamonds, pink and orange spinels and rubies); Eastern Europe (Afghan emeralds were teamed with rubellites in a necklace without any visible metalwork to look like the moving folds of a traditional Hungarian skirt); India (in a bracelet that evokes the Holi festival); and Japan (a mosaic bracelet in diamonds, onyx and cabochon opals surrounding a 33-carat tourmaline inspired by the Matsuri festival lanterns). The collection is meant to celebrate openness, diversity and curiosity, and to foster a sense of global connection.

A pendant from the Cartier Coloratura collection

Chopard showed classic white diamond pieces alongside a necklace made of real feathers inspired by traditional Mongolian costumes.

At Dior, head jewelry designer Victoire de Castellane celebrated her 20th year at the house by unveiling the wildly feminine and vibrantly colorful new 65-piece Dior Dior Dior collection,  inspired by lace. “I wanted to find the sensation of air, lightness and the haute couture design of lace that belongs, like ribbon, silk and draperies, to Dior abecedary” she explained. “Cutting pieces of lace, applying them to skin and then transforming them into colorful jewels was the original idea behind these creationsI wanted to play with ideas of transparency.” Some of the pieces almost take on the appearance of a golden tattoo, and the collection includes mismatched earrings and bracelets worn across the back of the hand. In a first, the pieces from the new collection were shown at Paris’s Musée d’Art Moderne in a free exhibit that was open to the public from July 6-8, 2018. The exhibit featured 220 pieces in total, showcasing the best of the Maison Christian Dior archives.

The Dentelle Tulle Bracelet from the Dior Dior Dior collection

Piaget. The quest to unite natural objects found at the earth’s surface with the treasures found beneath it was the inspiration for the new Sunlight Escape collection, which also evokes the play of light in Northern Europe and employs intricate feather marquetry. In a collaboration with the Paris plumassière Nelly Saunier, the house produced a cuff bracelet of pure-white bird feathers with leaves of rose gold, designed to emulate the effect of frosty snow glistening in the sun’s warm rays. From sunrise to sunset, from golden hour to boreal night light, the collection follows the endless path of the sun.

Piaget Sunlight Escape

Mikimoto, the Japanese house known for its use of pearls, debuted its latest high jewelry line: the Jeux de Rubans collection, a celebration of ribbons with flowing, fluid pieces that are delicate, graceful and timeless. Important pieces include a white gold, sapphire and diamond ring topped by a rare natural Conch pearl, and a necklace featuring eights rows of Akoya pearls gathered with a white gold, sapphire and diamond flower featuring a large white South Sea cultured pearl.

Selections from the Jeux de Rubans collection from Mikimoto

Van Cleef & Arpels’ collection, Quatre contes de Grimm, was inspired by the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, and is evocative of quests, heroes, heroines, and deep emotions. Moonlit nights, golden apples and gardens are represented by Burmese sapphires, yellow diamonds and emeralds. The collection’s clips/brooches are whimsical and romantic, including a golden bird; a pillow with a princess’s shoes; the princess herself; and some mysterious feathers. Subtle asymmetry keeps the Victoire yellow diamond earrings meant to evoke the tale of the Musicians of Bremen feeling modern. And the sapphire and emerald diamond necklaces are definitely the stuff of dreams.

Van Cleef &Arpels Grimm Panache Mysterieux Clip

Graff drew its inspiration from the late American artist Cy Twombly when it created a stunning set comprised of a necklace, earrings and a ring  designed to mirror the flow of the paint on Twombly’s canvases. Laurence Graff, the house’s chairman, owns a significant collection of 20th-century masters, including works by Twombly, Warhol, Basquiat and Picasso; thus the connection. A playful spiral of diamonds dances down from the ear; the necklace is formed from what appears to be an infinite, three-dimensional loop of alternating stones – the effect is joyful and modern. The pieces are available in white diamond, or white diamond and ruby.

Graff Cy Twombly collection necklace and earrings

De Beers produced four mini collections within its latest high jewelry offerings, Diamond Legends, referencing the myths of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Cupid uses contrasting diamond cuts to represent the duality of love and psyche; Ra celebrates the Egyptian sun god with yellow diamond paves; Celestia is inspired by the ancient belief that diamonds are the gods’ tears fallen from the sky; and Vulcan, named after the Olympian god, features white diamonds mixed with rough and polished diamonds of different colors and cuts.

The DeBeers Diamond Legends Vulcan necklace

Buccellati’s show-stopper this season is an intricate diamond tiara with a honeycomb effect. The Gran tiara features two phoenixes fluttering from a flower-studded honeycomb of white gold. With 928 diamonds in total, including the pear at its central peak, this is one for the ages.

Three independent fine jewelry designers also won plaudits for their stunning pieces. Ana Khouri showed new versions of her signature asymmetric ear cuffs. Taiwan-born and New York based professional cellist turned jeweler Anna Hu debuted vibrant pieces based on Eastern motifs like koi and lotus flowers.

Anna Hu Turandot Lily necklace

Prabal Gurung showed high jewelry in Paris for the first time. Some of the pieces featured graphic, surrealist designs: the Aurora necklace is an asymmetrical twist of 18k white gold, accented with diamonds and the ombre effect of light-to-dark sapphires that ends with a large South Sea pearl. There are also ear cuffs, multi-finger rings, and cuffs designed to be worn between the fingers and wrist. Others evoked gardens: the Jardin de Rose necklace gives the illusion of a single stemmed rosebud.

Prabal Gurung Jardin de Rose necklace

They’re all lovely, but if we had to choose, we’d happily add anything that Victoire de Castellane of Dior designs to our jewelry box — we love the color, elegance and lush femininity of her work. Ditto Anna Hu (hey, Santa, are you getting this?) Whatever you favorite, how nice to step back and enjoy the sense of enduring grace and beauty that these jewels evoke – that’s a precious luxury all its own. Shine on.

Pamela Thomas-Graham

Pamela Thomas-Graham is the Founder & CEO of Dandelion Chandelier. She serves on the boards of several tech companies, and was previously a senior executive in finance, media and fashion, and a partner at McKinsey & Co.