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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.