Hidden Gems

How easy is it to match a high-jewelry item to a timepiece? Stylistically, very; technically, it’s not so simple. We play with unique ways of pairing complications with rare gemstones,
 further revealing the mysteries of unique bejeweled pieces.

Photos Philippe Lacombe

Author By Eleonor picciotto

Pigeon blood

It is the perfect ruby colour, named after the first drops of blood from a freshly-killed pigeon. For rubies, it is the most precious hue, not to say the rarest and most expensive. Nowadays it is close to impossible to find an unheated ruby with such a deep color.

Graff Carved Ruby secret watch on a white multi-shape diamond bracelet. This highly unique timepiece combines the elegance of a 9.81-ct carved ruby with the allure of a secret watch paved with 20.09 cts of diamonds. Chopard Solitaire ring from the Haute Joaillerie Collection. Set on rose gold and mounted with an oval-cut ruby weighing 10.98 cts in addition to 476 white diamonds weighing 1.60 cts. High Jewelry ring set on grey gold, paved with 212 diamonds (0.71 cts) and mounted with a pear-cut ruby weighing 6.01 cts.
Graff – Carved Ruby secret watch / Chopard -Solitaire ring from the Haute Joaillerie Collection.


A diamond is characterised by the 4Cs: carat, cut, clarity and color. A piece of jewelry set with baguette- or emerald-cut diamonds always creates an outstanding effect. Baguette diamonds – white are most commonly used – are rarely tiny: the bigger the cut, the bolder the light’s reflection on their facets.

Chanel Première Camélia Squelette. White gold case set with 47 baguette-cut diamonds (2.91 cts). Mechanical movement with manual winding Chanel Manufacture Calibre 2 Camélia Skeleton Movement. Power reserve 48 hours. White gold skeleton dial and bridges paved with 246 diamonds. White gold bezel set with 42 baguette-cut diamonds (2.25 cts) and 52 brilliant-cut diamonds (1.48 cts). Double folding buckle on white gold bracelet set with 282 baguette-cut diamonds (8.49 cts) and 254 brilliant-cut diamonds (6.68 cts). Total carat weight: 22.7 cts. Limited edition of 12 pieces. 
Chanel – Première Camélia Squelette

Pinctada margarifitera

This is a scientific name for a mollusk shell. Commonly known as pearl oyster, it holds the precious gem for a period of 18 to 36 months until the pearl reaches maturity. Watchmakers often use mother of pearl to pave and feminize the dial while jewelers highlight the actual pearl with diamonds. It is the inside of the oyster where the pearl grows that defines the pearl’s color. It takes three years to produce a single pearl yet it took over a decade to master the grafting technique.

Nikos Koulis Lingerie collection earrings with 1.88 cts of trillion white diamonds, 26.62 cts of silver pearls and 1.99 cts of white round diamonds. Louis Vuitton Dentelle de Monogram. Celebrates the Louis Vuitton Monogram flowers. White gold case, 30 mm, set with 46 diamonds on the bezel. Quartz movement. Grey engraved mother-of-pearl dial. Grey satin strap with ardillon buckle set with seven diamonds. 
Nikos Koulis – Lingerie collection earrings / Louis Vuitton – Dentelle de Monogram 

Mystery setting

Patented by Van Cleef & Arpels in 1933, the Mystery Setting sets stones in such a way that no prongs or metal parts are visible on the jewel. The radiance of each stone shines as if the gems were held by magic. A VC&A clip requires over 300 hours of craftsmanship: each stone is faceted, cut and inserted by hand on two thin golden rails.


The legend says that when VC&A moved to the U.S. to develop the brand overseas, they took the Rubel brothers with them. In 1939, John Rubel sketched a ballerina on a tablecloth while watching a French cancan stage show in a downtown bar. The drawing became part of the jeweler’s DNA. Later, when she found it in the archives, it inspired Rubel’s heiress, Sophie Mizrahi Rubel, to revive the family jewelry legacy. Today, a vintage VC&A brooch still mirrors a John Rubel modern high-jewelry ring.

Van Cleef & Arpels  Fée Caresse d'Eole clip. Brooch mounted on white gold with round and baguette-cut diamonds. Red gold. Mystery Set sapphires. Patented technique by VC&A. John Rubel Blue Carmen Ring. Vies de Bohème Collection. White gold ring set with diamonds and sapphires including a 12,74-ct natural blue sapphire from Ceylan.
Van Cleef & Arpels – Fée Caresse d’Eole clip /John Rubel – Blue Carmen Ring 

Titanium craze

Jewellers have recently fallen under the spell of titanium. Incredibly strong and very light, a few houses have started experimenting with it in high jewelry, setting carats of stones. De Grisogono set 55.52 carats – including 2,613 diamonds – paved on the white gold and titanium structure of monochrome earrings.

De Grisogono High Jewelry Earrings set on white gold and titanium. 1,874 black diamonds worth 17.45 cts, 727 white diamonds worth 17.11 cts and 12 round diamonds weighing between 1.12 and 3.51 cts each.
De Grisogono – High Jewelry Earrings set on white gold and titanium. 1,874 black diamonds worth 17.45 cts, 727 white diamonds worth 17.11 cts and 12 round diamonds weighing between 1.12 and 3.51 cts each.
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