The workmanship of couture encompasses the high jewelry houses, which have their own ateliers and trends, and whose presentations peppered the week. As to what those trends were (besides dazzling gems), look to nature.
At Christian Dior, Victoire de Castellane, the house’s creative director of fine jewelry, was inspired by the kaleidoscope of colors in the gardens at Versailles, and more explicitly by the interplay between architectural forms and the rambling botanical world. The garden paths found form in trellis shapes decked with garlands of multicolored sapphires or diamond-encrusted sprays, like the water jetting from the famous fountains of Versailles, all to accent ears, wrists and throats.
Le Secret, a collection from Van Cleef & Arpels, was more focused on what lies beneath. Marguerite d’Amour, a diamond daisy-shaped clip accented with pink and orange spinels, had yellow-gold petals that can be reversed to display amorous declarations, while the Baleine Poétique clip, a blinking whale of sapphires, black spinels and white mother-of-pearl, had a fin that, when touched, opened the creature’s mouth to reveal a lost sailing ship.
In its Sunlight Journey collection, inspired the Amalfi Coast of Italy, Piaget offered hammered gold bracelets glistening with rubies, reminiscent of sunsets, or in necklaces with shivering tassels of sapphires and white diamonds, designed to mirror waves crashing on a cliff.
The Milanese jeweler Giampiero Bodino also looked to the Italian coastline in his Mediterranea collection, including a dramatic evening necklace that combined the fiery hues of opals, amethysts, yellow beryls and pink diamonds with almost 170 carats of rubellite in seven hanging beads.
Boucheron headed to Russia, home to some of the maison’s earliest and most loyal clients, for its Hiver Impérial collection. The standout Flocon Impérial necklace, from the snowflake-inspired Lumière de Nuit theme, took 2,700 hours to make — there is an intricate diamond pavé on its rock crystal shards (a favorite material of the house’s creative director, Claire Choisne). And the necklace can be separated into seven wearable pieces. The Baikal collar of pearls, with a 78-carat aquamarine at its heart representing that famous Siberian lake, sparkled amid the mountains of fake snow piled in its presentation site during the height of the Parisian summer.
There also were houses where the sheer joie de vivre of man triumphed. Or woman. It was all on deck at Chanel, which found its inspiration in the Flying Cloud, a yacht owned by Hugh Grosvenor, the second Duke of Westminster, a onetime amour of Coco Chanel. This set sail in a 65-piece smorgasbord of ocean tropes: Think sailors’ tattoos, anchors and knotted ropes, waves and officer’s uniforms, glamorizing the most everyday elements of a life lived at sea.
Chaumet created 41 pieces celebrating parties — or more specifically four black-tie gatherings with classical music at their hearts. In honor of the Glyndebourne opera festival in Britain, where guests picnic on the lawns of the stately home before performances, the Pastorale Anglaise group included bow-shaped brooches and necklaces with sapphires, diamonds and Colombian emeralds combined in a quirky tartan pattern. Another, Aria Passionata, inspired by La Scala in Milan, used Burmese pigeon-blood rubies to evoke the Italian opera theater, with a ring and necklaces trimmed in gold that fanned out like the folds in a stage curtain.
On the subject of showmanship, there were houses that simply let the stones do the talking; Moussaieff, with its sorbet-hued designs in golf-ball-size rocks, and Nirav Modi, the Mumbai-based designer, who produced an Electric Green ring with a rare Tanzanian kornerupine at the heart of a dome-like silhouette, surrounded by clusters of white diamonds. It was hard not to reach out and touch.