With over a hundred pieces, Cartier’s latest high jewellery collection is considerable, which means every one has to hold its own against a host of resplendent siblings. Each piece, says Creative Director Jacqueline Karachi-Langane, has its own rhythm on a spectrum ranging between serenity and strength. But the inspiration behind the Résonances de Cartier collection was to bring it all together in harmony — much like a choir.
High jewellery is a marriage between gemstone(s) and design, and while that has always held true for Cartier’s treasures, the former takes the lead here. A 42.13-ct cushion-shaped fire opal, for instance, steals the spotlight in the Lacis Necklace, flanked by small rows of brilliant-cut diamonds and held by a string of grey moonstone beads, black lacquer and onyx. “We’ve never used stones like these for our high jewellery, but the fire opal’s colour was so intense and its personality so astonishing that we decided to use it to illustrate the collection’s resonance,” shares Karachi. “It’s like the sun — so alive and full of energy.”
Cartier is a master at finding beauty in the unusual. It’s not often a jeweller is willing to allow a large 20.09-ct brown diamond — traditionally considered flawed due to its colour — to take centre stage on a necklace, as Cartier did two years ago for its Magicien Collection. And it’s taken the road less travelled again with this year’s Carbonado Ring. It features a 2.73-ct Fancy Black pear-shaped diamond paired with a 2.05-ct E IF twin in a swirl of platinum, black lacquer and brilliant-cut diamonds.
Why use such relatively unpopular stones in high jewellery? “Because they’re beautiful,” Karachi-Langane says simply. “It’s not a question of value, but of beauty and energy.” In her 30-plus years at Cartier, she has never encountered a black diamond that allowed in as much light as the one in Carbonado did, and was disappointed when she couldn’t find another to make a pair of earrings. There may never be another that can make the cut again, she reveals.
Speaking of cuts, the collection also showcases Cartier’s audaciousness in uncommon faceting and cuts. Of particular interest to Karachi-Langane is the Orbite Ring: A pair of half-moon-shaped diamonds (totalling almost 10 cts) surrounded by calibrated rubies and set in white gold. “These are less brilliant than a brilliant-cut diamond but that is what we like,” she says. “The way they play with the light allows you to see the rhythm of the stones, and these are nice when worn against the skin,” she says, comparing them to the dizzying spectacle that classic shapes and cuts tend to provide.
Of course, one can’t populate an entire high jewellery collection without some conventionally dazzling pieces. Most prized is the Infinite Motion Ring, starring two incredibly rare coloured diamonds. One is a 2.18-ct Fancy Intense Pink pear-shaped diamond, and the other a 2.03-ct Fancy Intense Blue. These stones represent the more serene side of Résonances de Cartier. On the other end of the spectrum is the Yellow Berry ring and earrings, which use yellow, orange and white diamonds set in yellow gold and black lacquer —“like the colour of a tiger or panther,” she adds, referring to the company’s age-old infatuation with these big cats. “We try to express duality in this collection, and it reverberates through the pieces,” she explains.
This dualism manifests in a number of transformative pieces. Perhaps the most eye-catching is the Hyperbole Tiara and Necklace: A glorious 140.21-ct cabochon-cut emerald sits at the centre of rows of brilliant-cut diamonds, and a simple manoeuvre will transform it from tiara to necklace. While Karachi-Langane admits that both designs were proposed because they couldn’t decide which would better show off the spectacular stone, she is also aware that wearing the same jewel in different ways is increasingly popular with women who travel frequently.
Transformable jewellery is among the most complicated and time-consuming creations at Cartier. “But the more simple it is, the more difficult it is to make,” she says, explaining how Cartier had to develop a new technique for the Eurythmie Bracelet. It features a pattern of rose gold scales covered in brilliant white diamonds, but allows you to flip the scales over to reveal lapis lazuli-covered ones for a completely different look. What’s remarkable is that the scales are locked into position once flipped, ensuring your chosen style stays put.
These are but a sampling of Cartier’s latest wares, as only half the collection has been revealed so far (at a ritzy party in London’s members-only Reform Club, no less). Stay tuned for the rest of the collection, set to be unveiled in New York this October.