For high jewellery houses creating pieces worth millions, five-figure price tags were once unthinkable — until now. In the recent months, this new trend of high-end names from Cartier to Boodles introducing point-of-entry pieces has taken off. Not only is a faltering luxury economy to blame here, but a new group — independent women investing in their own fine (yet rarely, high) jewellery — is flexing some purchasing power. The result? New collections with flair, originality and craftsmanship at (more) affordable prices.
Cartier’s new Cactus collection is a case in point and truly original in design, with a sharp injection of wit. Based on globular, ribbed cacti that sometimes surprise with a brilliant flower on top, this collection is classic yet modern, bold yet delicate, and uses textured gold, diamonds and emeralds plus semi-precious stones such as lapis lazuli and carnelian, shining as tiny flowers. Starting at £12,000, the price tag is still not inconsiderable but according to new CEO Cyrille Vigneron, the range is "intended to be surprising, but also to be worn every day. Earrings can be detached from diamond hoops, necklaces can be varied in length and including hard stones helps keep prices reasonable".
A response to a slow luxury market and a willingness to embrace the new reality is one thing, but Jean Bernard Forot, Piaget’s Jewellery Marketing Director, has another insight: "In the last five years we have seen values change, especially in newly wealthy markets”, he says. "People, particularly independent women from the mid-twenties to mid-thirties, are buying jewellery not for status but for self-satisfaction and emotion and they see luxury jewellery as fashion to be bought yearly, not something you wait for till you retire”.
Piaget has responded to this shift in market. The high jeweller has just added key pieces to the Possession collection consisting of gold and diamond pieces, with tactile, turning bands (starting at just £1,000 and up to £54,000). Forot says this change is ”good for the vitality of the house" and other brands appear to agree.
Bulgari recently launched a new version of their famous Serpenti motif, focusing on the snake’s head in guises from openwork gold with amethyst eyes to full pavé with rubies or — for the high jewellery versions — large diamonds and emeralds — all while the hexagonal scale motif becomes an abstract shape.
Boodles' new Sophie collection — named after their muse and model Sophie Dahl — has diamonds and subtle heart shapes, with mother of pearl (starting at £9,500). In addition, their upcoming Be Boodles collection is based on a delicate, lace-like version of the letter B in rose gold with diamond pavé and will be available starting December, (starting at £6,850). And at Chaumet, the Hortensia high jewellery hydrangea motif is being turned into more modest pieces in chalcedony sapphire and diamonds (starting at £2,070).
Even London high jeweller David Morris is attracting a younger, more casual clientele with pear or coral beads and method pearl flower shapes, all mixed with diamonds (starting at £6,000).
Historic brands are truly rethinking luxury jewellery for the modern age.