Five emerging fine jewellery trends we spotted at Baselworld 2017, the largest watch and jewellery fair in the world
It is with some trepidation that I start to write a Baselworld round-up each year. The reason is that I never quite know where to begin. With more than 2,000 stands at eight-day event, it all becomes a bit of a blur (not simply because of the copious amounts of champagne).
This year marked the 100th anniversary of the fair. However, rather than celebrating in typically ostentatious style, there was a more subdued note in the air. With last year’s falling sales in the luxury sector and predictions of an economic downturn on the horizon, this had a knock-on effect: according to Forbes, exhibitor numbers reportedly dropped 13.3 per cent, to 1,300. Following this, the organisers announced it would be reducing the number of days by two for next year’s edition.
Given such news, it is hard not to feel gloomy, but brands are simply having to rethink their strategies. Rather than using Baselworld as the moment to showcase their most price recordbreaking pieces, some exhibitors were emphasising affordability and wearability. The buzzword is millenials and by targeting them with attractive entry-level collections, brands hope to weather the storm. The emphasis was on quality, not quantity.
Of course, there were still plenty of showstopping pieces, including the astronomical $35 million ruby necklace by Faidee (pictured above). Named The Grand Phoenix, it stole the show in one fell swoop. With this and other pieces to uplift visitors’ spirits, there is no reason not to feel positive. Here’s to the next 100 years.
Pantone’s Colour of the Year is ‘greenery’, and many at Baselworld presented their own take on the trend. Emeralds were a common sight, but some experimented with more unconventional stones, such as Italian jeweller Marco Bicego, which showed a pair of jade earrings with visible imperfections and inclusions. Arguably the most unusual was from Jacob & Co – a rare fancy intense green radiant-cut diamond ring. Its Mystery of Muzo cuffs also featured Colombian Muzo emeralds in the same vivid shade.
The Diamond Names To Drop This Season
Messika made quite a statement, having upgraded its stand and positioning itself next to players such as Hermès and Graff, with a bed of roses outside its booth. It has launched a new high jewellery collection, Paris est une Fête, which pays tribute to the city’s cultural heyday in the 1920s. It sees the designer play with different diamond cuts: the Swinging necklace includes more than 2,500 diamonds, assembled using discreet elastic threads so the stones appear to float on the wearer.
Another diamond jeweller worthy of a second mention is Yeprem. Loved by the likes of Rihanna and Madonna, the edgy jeweller made its debut into watches with a high jewellery timepiece collection called Y-Memento.
History in the Making
In tough times, a brand will often stress its history as sure signs of stability. This year, Chanel has commemorated its founder through its Mademoiselle Privé collection. The Décor Aubazine timepiece is inspired by the windows of the orphanage that Coco Chanel spent her childhood, while the brand’s classic tweed is used for the first time on the Boy.Friend watch strap, woven in beige gold or black steel threads.
Celebrating its 70th anniversary, Dior also pays tribute to its heritage. Launched in 2011, the Dior VIII Grand Bal watch collection honours its founder’s love of couture and lavish feasts, and now includes the Grand Bal Plissé Ruban, featuring a pleated design similar to that of a petticoat.
Entry Point Fine Jewellery
Case in point for enticing millenials with entry-level pieces was luxury pearl jeweller Yoko London – its new pieces start from £1,000. Fabergé showcased its accessible engagement ring collection, which launched at the end of last year and allows clients to enter the world of this historic and opulent jewellery house for £5,000. Elsewhere, Lebanese jeweller Yeprem argued that it’s never too early to get hooked on diamonds, starting at £1,700. Finally, Chopard gave its Happy Diamonds collection a refresh with the more affordable material malachite.
High Jewellery Watches
There was a time when watchmakers got away with smattering ladies’ watches with diamonds and gemstones, covering up a lack of any proper mechanism. All this is fortunately behind us: today brands are seeking both style and substance. Chanel celebrated the 30th anniversary of its Première watch by launching the Première Camélia Skeleton. The calibre is the brand’s second stab at an in-house movement and masterfully bridges the gap between design and function.
Harry Winston took us down memory lane with an update to its Avenue collection. It now arrives in Dual Time: a second time zone function designed for globetrotting women, or with a moon phase complication (one of the smallest
of its kind on the market). Graff, meanwhile, brought out a new Mastergraff Floral Tourbillon for ladies.