The practice of wearing jewelry dates far into prehistory, as even ancient societies were fascinated with the allure of a beautiful gemstone or precious metal. To this day, valuable materials such as emerald, gold, diamond, and platinum are often combined to create a stunning piece of jewelry. While these precious materials are admired for their independent beauty, their careful design and arrangement can create something that is truly wearable art
Jewelry houses such as Tiffany & Co., Cartier
and Bulgari have long dominated the world of fine jewelry. The criteria for “fine jewelry
” are usually considered the quality of material and sophistication of design. These noted jewelry producers are most certainly qualified as “fine jewelers.” Known for their intensely creative designs, high-caliber materials, and overall quality, these designers have achieved legendary status in the world of jewelry and design. However, some designers take their creations a step further into the realm of high jewelry, or haute joaillerie
Coral and Amethyst Earrings by JAR
What is High Jewelry?
So, what is fine jewelry vs. high jewelry
? The distinction is marginal, but it boils down to meticulous craftsmanship, incorporating the absolute best materials and creative thinking. Essentially, high jewelry is like haute couture fashions or a Rolls Royce: a significant step up in artistry and quality. Considered the highest form of jewelry, these pieces are the most expensive on the market, as they are usually one-of-a-kind. The cost of precious materials and overall craftsmanship allows these pieces to command the highest prices.
While many high jewelry designers are known exclusively for their work in the realm of jewels and metals, it is not uncommon for other types of designers to try their hand at the craft. Names such as Chanel, Dior and Versace are typically associated with lavish garments and handbags, yet these designers also had a keen talent for jewelry creation.
Chanel and Verdura
One such garment designer who has seamlessly crossed into the world of jewelry production is Coco Chanel. Having already established her fashion line, Chanel began dabbling with jewelry production. It was during this time of exploration that Chanel noticed the incredible talent of one of her textile designers, Duke Fulco di Verdura. Chanel promoted Verdura to the head designer of jewelry, and the pair began their entrance into the world of high jewelry. Today, Chanel jewelry is regarded as some of the most beautiful and creative, and it is still keeping with Coco’s legacy.
has remained a hallmark of the industry, creating stunning pieces that can outshine the finest of garments. These two jewelry legends are just one example of clothing designers who launched themselves into the world of jewelry. Verdura is also a highly successful jewelry producer known for elaborate and innovative designs. These sapphire cabochon earrings exemplify the brand’s taste for the eccentric.
Amethyst and Aquamarine Necklace by Verdura
Sapphire Cabochon and Gold Earrings by Verdura
Another fashion giant who crossed into the world of rubies and diamonds is Christian Dior. Founded in Paris in 1947, the House of Dior began producing incredible styles that entranced the fashion world. Dior believed that jewelry, like clothing, was an integral part of an outfit, and he designed pieces to add to his collections as a part of the entire look. The brand opened its own jewelry division in 1998, and it has been captivating jewelry lovers since.
This Dior ring conveys the brand’s fascination with nature and truly reflects the concept of high jewelry. Christian Dior was enamored with the French countryside, and his designs truly radiate a pastoral aesthetic. For instance, this ring features a bouquet of gemstones, diamonds and enamel work in a floral design. In this way, Dior’s jewelry, like its clothing, captures the essence of nature through design. High in concept, singular in design and unmatched in terms of previous materials, this ring epitomizes high jewelry.
Gemstone, Diamond and Enamel Ring by Dior
Hermès is another name synonymous with high fashion. Although the brand focused on manufacturing riding equipment, such as saddles and bridles, at its foundation in 1837, Hermès gradually expanded into the world of clothing and, you guessed it, bags. Known especially for its Kelly and Birkin bags, Hermès is a giant in the industry. Today, Hermès is highly established and praised for its quality and distinctive branding.
Kelly Bag, Hermès International
Hermès Bag Gold Charm Bracelet
Of course, the Hermès line cannot stop at bags and scarves, and the designers have experimented with other fashion media. This charming gold bracelet features the iconic Kelly, Bolide, Jige and Constance bags in a playful nod to Hermès’ most famous product.
Joel Arthur Rosenthal is a standout in the world of high jewelry. Starting out in the textile industry, Rosenthal began his career as a jeweler producing for big-name fashion houses such as Hermès and Valentino. Immersed in a world of style and glamour, Rosenthal opened his very own jewelry salon in 1997. Now known as JAR, the designer’s work is characterized by its unique and complicated compositions and innovative materials. JAR is an incredibly elusive and exclusive creator, and his output is only around 70 to 80 pieces per year. Each of his designs is unique and created with a specific client in mind, making his works incredibly personal.
Red Spinel Physalis Earrings by JAR
Diamond and Multi-Colored Sapphire Ear Clip “Balls” by JAR
These two pairs of earrings truly convey JAR’s eccentric style, combining bold colors and patterns into an elaborate piece. Each of his works are painstakingly crafted to be a marvel of aesthetics, something truly visually stunning, and these spinel earrings clearly showcase his genius. The pair of striped multi-colored sapphire earrings are one of JAR’s most famous works, designed specifically for Elizabeth Taylor. He intended the array of cool colors to compliment the actress’ striking blue eyes, and they are yet another example of his creativity.
Interested in more fine and high jewelry? Check out our vast antique diamond
collection, rubies and other exquisite pieces!