At a noticeably diluted Baselworld – (no temporary flower beds bursting with tulips or pop-up cafes in the courtyard the first sign of a smaller, Swatch Group-less trade fair) – high jewellery was a little scarce. But thanks to the brands that did show some knock-out pieces – Graff, Messika, and Chopard – the trip to Basel, Switzerland was worthwhile.
First to Graff, who arguably create only high jewellery given the quality of the their gemstones, but neatly categorise that into two parts; unique pieces, and collection pieces. Yellow diamonds were majorly at play here, (linking neatly to the star attraction of the stand, a Fancy Vivid Yellow diamond timepiece) and appeared in both categories.
There was a necklace comprised of a complicated diamond-set knot, from which hung a vast yellow cushion-cut diamond suspended by a graduating ‘ribbon’ of step-cut white stones. A matching ring nestled the central yellow diamond in a looping bow of white diamonds, all step-cut to fit.
In a new collection, Graff Threads, princess and emerald-cut yellow diamonds were enveloped in lattice-like white diamond ‘stitches’, lines of baguette and pave cut diamonds layered over top each other to form haphazard, nest-like surroundings for central stones in vaguely circular earrings, rings, or long earrings within which the coloured stones seem to tumble through these askew diamond lines.
There was an additional new collection launched, the Graff Kiss collection of criss-crossing lines, sometimes as simple as two lines of stones forming a slender ‘X’ for earrings, sometimes a large diamond ring with multiple strands of stones – emeralds, rubies, and sapphires or all diamond – forming the band.
But the most interesting new pieces shown were a range of distinctly art-deco esque rings, the prettiest seeing baguette-cut diamonds radiating out from a central emerald-cut stone, beautifully ‘trimmed’ with fine slivers of emeralds. Lightly swirling, with the white stones deftly punctuated by green, it was a real show stopper.
At Messika, Valerie Messika had looked to the Wild West for inspiration, creating a high jewellery collection that utilized her now distinctly recognisable way of layering rows of diamonds in various shapes. Wild Moon earrings and pendants consisted of half-moon motifs created from double-rows of pear and marquise-cut diamonds, while the stunning Sun Tribe range put multiple diamond drops on a warm gold knife edge setting, at once sharp and fluid.
The use of cockerel feathers in the Diamond Catcher set was particularly inspired – detachable, dyed feathers dangling from a triple-row diamond choker, and double-row diamond armband – looks that stylists will doubtlessly be clamouring to shoot.
Ziricote wood is used in the Black Hawk range, the dark material cut and polished into eye-shaped pieces picked out with white diamond lines to depict eagle feathers. The necklace and cuff of this range are as haute as any other pieces in the collection, despite the use of a relatively inexpensive material.
At Chopard, there was just one high jewellery red carpet collection not under embargo, but what a suite – in the necklace, ten white metal and diamond discs of varying size came framed in mint-blue Paraiba tourmalines and purple amethysts, with a heart-shaped purple tanzanite in the middle of each, all jumbled together in glorious, psychedelic colour. Matching earrings and a ring came with it, making for one of the boldest high jewellery suites on show.
High jewellery pieces may have been few and far between at Baselworld this year, but this was seriously a case of quality outshining quantity.