Symbolizing prestige, wealth and power – well-crafted jewelry possess the remarkable ability to highlight personality and provide the finishing touches to a red-carpet-worthy fit. Be it necklaces, earrings, or bracelets, the demand for artisan jewelry has grown astronomically, with consumers and designers valuing quality, craftsmanship and a sense of individuality that mass-produced items could never provide.
Long gone are the days of simplified jewels, and subtle accessories, as European haute couturiers, French and Italian fashion designers, and high jewelry brands all over the world, such as Ralph & Russo, Stéphane Rolland and Giambattista Valli, work tirelessly to embellish each new piece in a dazzling arrangement of crystal flourishes.
Creating bracelets and watches that mimic the quality and distinct characteristics of fabric – The Chanel Spring 2020 collection featured an array of thigh-skimming apparel in tweed with 45 jewel-encrusted accessories to match.
The collection, which marked the first time in history that tweed had been integrated into high jewelry, showcased a diverse arrangement of white diamonds, pearls, sapphires, black onyx, and white gold. Utilizing a special articulation technique, each gemstone is layered and interweaved meticulously atop a yellow gold and platinum base, for a splendorous textured effect. Crafted in painstaking detail, the collection took months to complete, with a single necklace worth an estimated 980 hours of work.
While reimagining fabric unto cuffed jewelry may have been a first for Chanel, Swiss manufacturer of luxury mechanical watches and clocks, Audemar Piguet, has proven to be equally adventurous in venturing beyond the brand’s signature black ceramic perpetual calendar Royal Oaks and high-tech minute repeaters. Launching a series of haute joallerie watches, dubbed “Diamond Punk (2015)”, “Diamond Fury (2016)” and “Diamond Outrage (2017)” – each timepiece featured a large cuff with diamond or blue sapphire-set spiked cones throughout, amassing to a jaw-dropping 65 carats worth of stones.
Revered as a timeless jewelry piece, the cuff bracelet’s popularity dates back as far as 7,000 years ago. Worn by members of Incan, Mayan, Roman and Egyptian royalty, each bracelet was crafted with unique characteristics from the finest metals, and used to differentiate societal class – whilst in Greek history, soldiers wore leather cuffs in battle as a symbol of strength and form of protection, much like DC Comic’s Wonder Woman, whose cufflinks do more than just deflect bullets, tamping down her god-like powers to protect others.
As fashion and trends continually evolve, it is unlikely that cuffed jewelry will ever fade into the past, but instead be reinterpreted and imagined to greater heights – perhaps even taking bold inspiration from each era’s popular culture, inching consumers closer to a renewed sense of stylish individuality and empowerment.