Vintage, Costume, Fine or High Jewelry are the four different categories a client can encounter when browsing for a Chanel piece of Jewelry. At the end of the day, all jewelry lovers should be able to find something to fit their personality, their desire and their wallet.
Chanel Jewelry can be broken down into four different types of markets. First you have the Vintage Chanel Costume Jewelry often found in second-hand stores or auction houses. Then there is the Chanel Costume Jewelry, the contemporary pieces easily spotted on the runway or the Fine Jewelry collections easily recognizable and among which we can spot a camellia flower, a lion or a comet. Last but not least, there are the High-Jewelry pieces, which are hard to get a hand on and often sold directly to collectors. Each Chanel Jewelry piece has its own style and characteristics, but all encompassing everything Coco Chanel would approve of and love!
In the 1930s, most of Chanel’s jewelry were items that would complement the clothing of the brand. This is the essence of costume jewelry, having jewelry made with the purpose of ornamentation for specific fashion ‘costumes’ or outfits. During this time, some of these jewels were sold with the outfit. Imagine getting both clothing and jewels with one purchase! These items were often unmarked, though, making it difficult to confirm the authenticity of these pieces in today’s market. That being said, there are still many Vintage Chanel items for sale. These pieces were made of high quality and in such a style that they are still popular to this day!
One thing Coco loved, was mixing fake and real semi-precious stones. This is how their use of large fake pearls with real gemstones came together. This allowed customers to accessorize the minimalist fashion designs of Chanel with many layers of costume jewelry. This concept of piling on jewelry accessories just wouldn’t have been possible with fine jewelry due to the cost. Additionally, those that could afford expensive fine jewelry didn’t always want to wear them out in public. This concept of costume jewelry, and in bulk, greatly appealed to those clients.
Currently, Costume Jewelry is still one of the categories that Chanel sells. These items can be found on the runway, paired with some of their top styles of the season. Chanel tends to do a Spring-Summer Collection, Cruise Collection and Fall-Winter Collection. These items utilize fabrics, enamel, imitation pearls, crystals, and glass. All of these fit into the costume jewelry trend of using simulated items or semi-precious stones. Their Spring-Summer 2018 Collection includes calfskin woven through metal with enamel locks.
The bulk of Chanel Jewelry is held in their Fine Jewelry category. This category can be traced back to the 1920s. Coco Chanel met Duke Fulco di Verdura at a dinner party and then hired him as a textile designer. Quickly realizing he could do much more with jewelry, Gabrielle Chanel had him work on some of her personal jewels before hiring him as the head designer of Chanel Jewelry. Their most prized project together would be the iconic Maltese Cross Cuffs. These white enamel cuffs have a gold cross with mismatched cabochon semi-precious and precious stones decorating both cross and cuffs. Today, you’ll still see the use and mix of semi-precious and precious gemstones in the Fine Jewelry Collections. A perfect example of it is the current Gallery Collection where you will see malachites, tourmaline and diamonds all on the same piece. In the Camelia Collection you can find items with ceramic and diamonds. This notion of mixing finer quality materials with lesser is one that started with Coco and continues on today.
The smaller collections would be their High Jewelry Collection. These unique, one of a kind items are comprised of more expensive, rare and unique materials or stones. Colored diamonds, larger semi-precious stones, and precious stones are utilized in these collector worthy items.
This year’s high jewelry collection, “L’Esprit du Lion” is focused on Coco’s private home as well as her obsession with the Lion. Her sun sign, the Leo, gave her much inspiration. The personality of the Lion, her strength and power were a huge theme for this line. The color scheme is warm, with oranges, yellows and browns. We see a bold lion carved out of yellow beryl secretly hiding a watch, with a band made of diamonds. The Legendary Necklace boasts a proud lion protecting a 30.19ct cushion cut fancy intense yellow diamond. There are 53 pieces in total, ranging from pins, rings, earrings, cuffs, chokers and necklaces, all comprised of diamonds, sapphires, topaz and beryls.
These four markets are all a little different, yet all very Chanel. No matter what type of jewelry wearer or collector you are, Chanel will have something perfect for you to take home!