Cover The Imperial Spinel necklace by Bulgari

Let these sparkling wonders take your breath away as we explore their respective sources of inspiration in the first of a two-part guide to the finest high jewellery 2021 has to offer

There’s nothing quite like high jewellery: created to dazzle and inspire, every meticulously crafted masterpiece represents the tireless effort of designers and artisans come to fruition.

Beyond that, however, each collection represents the crystallisation of a house’s aspirations, as well as hope for the future—so in a year where hope is sorely needed, let the most brilliant of jewels shine like a guiding light as we explore 2021’s most opulent high jewellery collections in this two-part guide by Tatler.

1. Boucheron Holographique

French jeweller Boucheron takes on a challenging holographic theme for its new high jewellery range of nine extraordinary sets of creations. Consider them art pieces created with precious gems as the medium. Creative director Claire Choisne was inspired by the work with light and colour of Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Eliasson and Mexican architect Luis Barragán, a refreshing shift from inspiration derived from the wonders of nature often seen in high jewellery. Playing with the colour-shifting nature of stones such as Australian and Ethiopian opals, as well as avant-garde materials such as holographic-coated ceramic and rock crystal, Choisne puts up a daring, bejewelled light show that deserves a standing ovation.

2. Bulgari Magnifica

No other jeweller does opulence quite like Bulgari with its unique brand of Italian splendour, and it shows clearly in its aptly named Magnifica high jewellery collection. Bulgari calls it the most precious high jewellery collection it has ever created with over 350 designs in total—of which 122 were newly unveiled this year. The novelties are set with some of the most awe- inspiring gems from around the world. Among them is a 131.21-carat spinel—the fourth largest of its kind ever recorded—set in the Imperial Spinel necklace, as well as five extremely rare Paraiba tourmalines that total about 500 carats, which are strung across the Mediterranean Queen necklace.

In case you missed it: Iris Law and Josh O'Connor Glam Up Bulgari High Jewellery Gala In London

3. Cartier Sixième Sens

The Sixième Sens (“sixth sense” in English) collection invites the eyes to engage in its visual play of shapes, colour and graphic patterns, which come together to form a trompe-l’œil effect. With precious gold and exquisite gems, the artisans at Cartier have composed these wearable optical illusions of the most brilliant nature. Highlights include the Meride and Pixelage necklaces, which best exhibit this illusory quality. The former is a graphic, monochromatic piece that resembles a three-dimensional mosaic art piece, while the latter—a creative interpretation of Cartier’s iconic panther—cleverly recreates the colours of the feline’s coat with white, yellow and orange diamonds interspersed with gold topazes and polished black onyx.

4. Chanel No. 5

A high jewellery collection that pays tribute to a fragrance—it’s a first and definitely one of the most unusual projects that the house of Chanel has ever created. Of course, the fragrance in question is no ordinary scent—Chanel No. 5 is an icon that is inextricably tied to the maison and Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, its famous founder. The fragrance has also turned a hundred years old this year. A total of 123 extraordinary pieces that express the different facets of the perfume form this collection. The showstopper among them? The 55.55 necklace, which features a perfect octagonal diamond weighing 55.55 carats set right in the middle of the recognisable form of the Chanel No. 5 perfume flacon. 

Read more: Chanel's New High Jewellery Collection Pays Homage to Its Most Iconic Perfume

5. Gucci Hortus Deliciarum

Creative director Alessandro Michele continues to build on Gucci’s Hortus Deliciarum, a veritable garden of precious jewel delights he started back in 2019. This year, he extends the nature-inspired narrative with motifs and colour schemes drawn from rose gardens, the animal kingdom, as well as other spectacles of nature such as waterfalls and sunset views. His maximalist style is employed to fantastical effect here, while tinges of feminine touches also come through at the same time in the form of stars, foliage and bow motifs that are interpreted variously across the collection. The gems are, of course, equally extravagant, with a 16.36-carat opal and a 6.13-carat emerald among the showstoppers. 

6. Van Cleef & Arpels Sous les Étoiles

Galaxies, stars and the cosmos form the backdrop of Van Cleef & Arpels’ Sous les Étoiles (“heavenly dreams” in English) high jewellery collection. A fittingly shining source of inspiration for high jewellery, the maison’s fascination with the sky and stars runs deep, and has led to the creation of many memorable masterpieces in past collections. The undisputed showstopper here is the Halley necklace. It takes its name from Halley’s Comet. which becomes visible from Earth every 75 years. This masterpiece holds a spectacular gem as its star attraction—set on its side is an 11.29-carat fancy vivid yellow diamond that represents the nucleus (i.e. the “head”) of the comet, while smaller white and yellow diamonds are placed all around it in a beautiful radiating pattern to allude to its tail.

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