When people think of beads in jewelry, they associate it with costume jewelry. True connoisseurs claim that it’s because it does not cost much for brands to work with beads and they can still get a wow effect. During the High Jewelry week in Paris, beads of precious stones have been used everywhere. From Chanel to Chaumet, Cartier or Boucheron, even Van Cleef & Arpels displayed pieces with beads. Explanations.
Beading has been part of jewelry since the beginning, as far back as King Tutankhamen during the 14th Century BC. For obvious reasons, many don’t associate beading with high jewelry, but the last high jewelry week in Paris has proven otherwise using a multitude of precious stones set within rows of beads.
Cartier introduced Coloratura, a high jewelry collection comprised of 290 pieces set with vibrant colors inspired by 6 major events occurred in the brand’s heritage. One of the masterpieces was a ruby and diamond set necklace reminding of an African plastron. The lines of ruby beads are hung in a triangular pattern and held by a choker, mimicking the large triangular diamonds which are set at the bottom point of the necklace. Paired with a bracelet of a similar design, the ruby beads contrasted with diamonds strung throughout the set. This collection is about sensation and movement, and utilizing flowing beads is the perfect way to evoke those themes.
Van Cleef & Arpels unveiled a whimsical high jewelry collection, The Quatre contes de Grimm, which shows an interpretation of four stories by the Brothers Grimm through 22 colorful pieces. The third story, The Three Feathers is depicted in four pieces, one of which is a gorgeous collar necklace called Carosse Enchanté. Set with 467 Mozambique rubies beads, for a total weight of 186.95-carats, 7-rows are randomly topped with Japanese Akoya pearls. The beading is layered down the neck, fully covering the collarbone and chest, creating a jaw dropping look! In The Town Musicians of Bremen, the Quartet Long Necklace shows three rows of white cultured pearls ending with tassle in between we can spot 10 emerald-cut fire opals and a central pink Madagascar sapphire of 11.39-carats. The most impressive piece is the Melodie Necklace featuring 186 emerald beads from Zambia weighting over 285 carats in just 3 rows.
Chaumet’s latest collection Tresors d’Afrique creates colorful dreams of travel to Africa. The brand collaborated with Kenyan artist Evans Mbugua, in order to bring us pieces full of bright colors and movement. The collection is broken down into five parts representing different communities in Africa. The Ronde de Pierres portion characterizes the Nilotic and Maasai areas. Here we see high jewelry set comprising of a necklace, bracelet and earrings, all of which are crafted with vibrant rows of red spinels, emeralds, sapphires and mandarin garnet beads. The Terres d’Or chapter help us to visualize the colors of Ghana. In one ring, we see the colors yellow and red, through yellow sapphires and red ruby beads. Using beads in this collection has allowed Chaumet to bring in the traditional jewelry of Africa, which often uses glass beads for the traditional Masaai jewelry.
The use of beading in many pieces during High Jewelry week allowed for movement and culture to work their way into high jewelry. Beading is an important part of jewelry history, and we are excited to see it make a comeback!