Prized beads are bringing a new panache, flexibility and informality to high jewellery says BEATRICE ISOLA
Fluid colourful jewelleries are some of the items Lara Adegoke loves to collect. She has a large collection of timeless exquisite jewelleries which she says cannot be traded for anything in the world. Her newest addition is from the Etourdissant Cartier collection by Cartier. They come in deep, rich tones of mellow gold, succulent berry or peacock blue-green cascade.
“I love the piece because of its softening lines and shapes. It has this sensuality,” says Adegoke.
Among the Etourdissant Cartier collection is a bracelet fringed with beads that strokes the back of the hand when worn, a long back necklace trickles lilac chalcedony and shadowy amethyst beads down the spine, while the voluptuous Eté Indien cuff is clustered with leaves and flowers, each one carved, tutti frutti style, from beads of red, mandarin and tsavorite garnets or sapphire.
“The pieces in the collection comes with such a warm glow and shiny colours of different precious stones like opal, ruby beads, black sapphire, black onyx, and diamond,” adds Adegoke.
Ever since the full exquisiteness of the new high-jewellery collections developed, Etourdissant Cartier collection has become a collectors’ item. The gorgeous gemstones are transformed into exhilarating designs by skilful hands, but this time there is a rare temperament permeating the hauteur of haute joaillerie: a spirit of luxuriant informality, of flexibility, fluidity and effortless elegance.
Some of these statement pieces have become thoroughly modern casual opulence. They are precious gemstones fashioned into glossy globules of intense colour and light that tumble in torrents and roll in silky streams, not only in necklaces or bracelets, but often as sculptural accents to a design.
The newest designs evoke a tribal feel which foster a close connection with the wearer, both physically and emotionally, wearers love the beads to move with and caress their bodies. They find this feeling tactile and comforting when they their fingers through them like they would a prayer bead.
Chinyere Nnadi says she loves a piece designed by Alisa Moussaieff. “For me, it is a lust-inducing rope of glossy imperial-jade beads. I love them because they look elegant yet they are not too loud.”
According to her, she loves the freedom of the form, the exuberance of mixing cuts and colours, the addition of briolette diamond beads to the piece.
There is another long necklace that Nnadi loves that features 93ct of blue and yellow sapphire beads, with a diamond and sapphire beaded tassel. A necklace she bought a couple of months ago was designed by Michel Ermelin, the owner of the label Verney Paris, who produces some of the most exquisite bead and tassel jewels.
The piece is like making a good show with hundreds of carats of emerald, sapphire or ruby beads. Using beads for necklaces is making the pieces look classical and alive. Ermelin’s Alhambra earrings are dangling 72.68ct of vermilion-red spinels, accented with soft grey diamonds.
To make a beads into statement pieces, explains Yemisi, designer, Yemzee’s says once beads can be fashioned from a less valuable material, their place in high jewellery means that they are of the finest quality.
“If you want to make a choice of beads to use to create a piece,” she explains, “you must consider the fact that the materials used are flawless, the beads must be perfect for that design. Beyond being used in the ethnic way, beads are being rendered in modern and sculptural forms giving them that unique appeal. They bring a new dimension and depth to a jewel and an intensity of colour without glitter. Beads can be used to play with contrasts when it comes to translucencies and opacity.”
Another interesting design is the Glacier long drop earrings, beads take the form of thin slices of aquamarine trailing light and movement down towards pear-shaped aquamarines. For this design, beads are used in a modernist way, to take away the rigidity and formality in fine jewellery.
Also, a piece by G by Glenn Spiro takes a modern approach by topping and tailing an impressive marquise-cut yellow diamond with a white-diamond bead to create a very different, luminous take on the precious single-stone diamond ring.
Bulgari, the king of coloured gems, also plays with the concept and shape of beads in its latest high-jewellery collection, Giardini Italiani. Here, beads are used as topiary-like accents in jewels such as the Secret Garden necklace, where they are dotted around a diamond collar that bursts into multi-coloured gem flowers centred around an emerald bead, and in contemporised chandelier earrings of specially carved pink and green tourmalines, with amethyst beads and diamonds.
This is part of Bulgari’s effort in bringing back its long tradition of audaciously transforming the finest gems into beads, as well as its signature 1920s-inspired style of pinning each smooth cabochon in place with a diamond.