Hubert Burda Media

Five Classic High Jewellery Designs

There are jewels that catch the eye and others that are forever in our memories. Here are those that have stood the test of time.

Berry Fruity

Cartier’s Tutti Frutti

Cartier’s ornately designed Tutti Frutti jewellery takes root in a private commission by Queen Alexandra of Great Britain in 1901.  She wanted a distinct Indian-inspired necklace that would match the Indian gowns gifted to her by Baroness Curzon of Kedleston, the Vicereine of India. This commission sparked a new creative expression for Cartier and happened around the same time as Jacques Cartier’s first trip to India. Inspired by the country’s rich culture and the Indian kings’ colourful and extravagant tastes, he further developed the Indian style by harmoniously combining carved sapphires, rubies and emeralds to resemble intricate Indian designs of luscious leaves and fruits with Eastern sensibilities. The most famous of all the Tutti Frutti iterations has to be the Collier Hindou that was commissioned by Daisy Fellowes and completed in 1939. Composed of some 785 gemstones and secured by a silk-rope, it remains one of Cartier’s most emblematic designs. Today, the modern art deco-styled jewellery still retains its flamboyant nature and exquisite workmanship, as seen in a suite of high jewellery from the latest Étourdissant Cartier collection.

Unzipping the Past

Van Cleef & Arpels’ bespoke Zip necklaces

The Van Cleef & Arpels Zip necklace is an avant-garde creation of superior technical sophistication. First envisioned by the Duchess of Windsor, her idea sparked a pursuit by the Maison to transform the modest zip fastener into a multifunctional jewellery that serves as both a statement necklace and a bracelet. The timeless design still retains its distinctive 1950 elegance and glamour even as it is recreated in contemporary times. As seen at the recent Oscars red carpet, the covetable Zip Antique Colombine adorned by Margot Robbie stole the show. It features a stunning 150 diamonds and 300 sapphires that embellish the tassels and chain, set in a striking 18k gold chain; an exact replica of the rare Zip jewellery invented for the Duchess.

Strike of the Viper

Bulgari’s Serpenti Collection

First introduced in the 1940s, Bulgari’s Serpenti pieces were first made using the tubogas method, a metallurgy technique unique to Bulgari that does not require soldering. Mimicking the flexible body of a snake, the Serpenti creations have come to represent everlasting life and renewal. Popularised by celebrities and socialites from the 1960s onwards, the design has witnessed several key evolutions with variations in styles ranging from extremely realistic depictions of the snake to more contemporary simplistic forms that can be worn daily. Although they were mostly presented as bracelets and bracelet watches, there were also rings, necklaces, earrings and belts.

Style icon and ex-Vogue Editor-in-Chief Diana Vreeland, for instance, owned a unique gold snake belt with white and pink enamel that she would occasionally wear around her neck to match her unconventional style. Today, Bulgari offers the Serpenti jewellery in a variety of designs to suit the different needs of collectors; they range from thick high jewellery gem-encrusted necklaces to more wearable pieces in gold, diamonds and mother of pearl. The latest iteration was introduced early last year: The Head Over Tail design shows the snakes’ heads resting on the tips of the their tails. Also offered in the form of bracelet watches, Bulgari replaced the internal gold spring that was present in all the previous serpent watches with a double pressure button and adjustable links.

Nature’s Bouquet

The Harry Winston Cluster

The iconic Cluster motif has been the signature of Harry Winston since its appearance in the 1940s. Taking inspiration from a holly wreath shimmering with freshly set snow, the Cluster design draws out the natural beauty of the diamonds by combining different diamond cuts — pear, marquise and round brilliant diamonds — set and strategically angled to maximise the brilliance of each gemstone. By concealing the supporting platinum settings, this also allows the diamonds and not their settings, to dictate the design of the piece. Thanks to the Cluster’s unique design, the jewellery also drapes freely across the skin, fulfilling what Mr Winston, known in the circuit as the “King of Diamonds”, once said: “If I could, I would attach the diamonds directly onto a woman's skin.” Contemporary iterations of this iconic design include the latest Lotus Cluster Collection, where every individual diamond is cleverly angled to be presented in its full glittering glory.

Take Flight

Tiffany & Co.’s Bird on the Rock brooch

Tiffany & Co.’s famous Tiffany diamond, an exquisite 128.54-ct yellow diamond is well-known to be one of the biggest and finest yellow diamonds in the world. In 1965, the New York jeweller’s master designer, Jean Schlumberger, brought the cushion-shaped diamond to life by mounting a diamond paved bird perched atop the large diamond. Set in 18k gold and platinum, it came complete with a pair of round-cut ruby eyes. Today, the iconic design has been recreated to showcase Tiffany’s vibrant array of precious and remains a tribute to Schlumberger’s sense of whimsy.