ESCAPE FROM REALITY
Like fairytales, jewels speak to our imaginations and hold the ability to take us somewhere we’d rather be. My favourite George Pragnell Stepping Stones earrings are inspired by enchanted forests shimmering in the moonlight, while at Bentley & Skinner, an array of fairytale jewels include antique Georgian ruby heart earrings, gold and butterfly earrings and a daring Victorian turquoise snake necklace. The latest offerings in Boodles’ Wonderland collection is Ocean of Dreams, which includes pieces inspired by an underwater world of flora, rockpools and starfish. While at Wempe, a necklace in white gold is formed of brilliant-cut diamonds that cascade to a 51.86-carat tanzanite cabochon, off which droplets of pear-shaped diamonds surround a sapphire cabochon – a dream addition to any jewellery box.
When French actress Juliette Binoche arrived at the opening gala dinner of the French art and antiques show the Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris this autumn, fresh from filming in Sicily, she wore a crisp, open-necked white shirt topped with a Bulgari collar of aquamarines, amethysts and diamonds. “It’s like river water,” Binoche was quoted as saying of her enormous neckpiece. “For me, jewels are art. It’s the same idea as a painter painting.”My attraction to serious jewellery is predicated on its promise of escapism from reality. And I think most jewellers would agree – including Lorenz Bäumer, who has his own shop on the revered Place Vendôme in Paris, where his next-door neighbours include Van Cleef & Arpels and Boucheron, and who is also head of jewellery design at Louis Vuitton. “I can still remember watching my mother, who is French, getting ready to go out. When she put on her jewellery, she suddenly transformed into a princess. It wasn’t about any particular piece of jewellery, but about the change that occurred when she put on something simple, like a white diamond necklace or a ring with a semi-precious stone – it was just breathtaking. There was a fairytale quality about that metamorphosis that continues to inspire my work to this day,” says Bäumer.
London-based, Russian-born bespoke jewellery designer Yana Zaikin, the founder and artistic director of Emily H London, is currently working on a commission of chandelier earrings with 20 carats of paraiba tourmalines. Paraibas are known for their swimming pool-like, green-turquoise hues. “The colour of the stones is the exact colour of the eyes of the girl who will wear the earrings. The process of designing something so beautiful is addictive, taking your mind away from everyday routine life and bringing you into a world of colourful, mesmerising precious stones that sparkle like the Caribbean ocean and are surrounded by floating diamonds,” says Zaikin.
INSPIRED BY FANTASY
Some of the most intricate and elaborate jewellery is ambitious enough to take an actual fairytale as its starting point. “Make your jewellery do something!” commands Mohamed Shawesh, the co-founder and driving force behind Shawish Genève jewellery, which explains why its new Mermaid Tail collection transforms from mermaid to flower, twisting, turning and flipping in the process.
Also offering a multifunctional purpose to some of his designs is John Calleija. Many will remember Calleija’s incredible Virtual Eros headpiece that glittered on the catwalk of Alexander McQueen’s show in 2000. This year, Calleija has created a $3million headpiece designed for Australia’s
famous horse-racing event, Derby Day, in collaboration with milliner Natalie Bikicki. “Inspired by reading an excerpt about the Roman Goddess of the Hunt, Diana, I began to wonder what I could design for a modern woman that I would also create for Diana. The preliminary hat sketches featured animalistic elements, such as antlers, horns and flowing equine manes,” explains Bikicki. The result is a contemporary headpiece fashioned from latex and leather with scrolling white gold that integrates 1,264 white diamonds and five pale green beryl gemstones. The 37.53-carat green beryl jewel at the centre is breathtaking.
Annoushka Ducas MBE, the designer behind Annoushka, has just created jewellery based on Russian fairytale Vasilisa the Beautiful, which her mother used to read to her when she was a child. Meanwhile, master jeweller and celebrity favourite Theo Fennell adores fairytales. His Mole & Toad ring, based on Kenneth Grahame’s century-old fairytale The Wind in the Willows, sees the good-natured mole perched on a miniature gold bridge and deep in conversation with the arrogant but lovable toad. “We once created bespoke wedding rings with dragonflies, foxgloves, fairies and bluebells for a seemingly ill-matched couple – he a huge rugby player and her a sylph-like woman,” says Fennell, reminiscing about a romantic fairytale in which he played a crucial part. “The engraved messages were for Badger and Twinkle. As I asked who was who, a very deep soft voice with its back to me said “Before you ask I’m Twinkle… and if you ever say a word…” Proof that jewels are pure escapism from reality.
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