Welcome to the third annual T&C JewelryAwards, where we celebrate the young and established talents preserving the ancient art of jewelry while also moving it into the future. They are guardians of beauty and skill and innovation and we raise a glass to each and every one of them.
The Major Breakthrough
ANA KHOURI HIGH JEWELRY
It was the diamond and Paraiba tourmaline torque du jour of Paris Couture! The Brazilian designer Ana Khouri had already established herself as a skilled sculptor of metal and stones with ear cuffs and a Mirian semicircle ring that have become modern classics, but the Harmony High Jewelry Collection of diamonds and rare stones she showed this year at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs signaled the evolution of a rising talent into a celebrated member of the establishment.
The Red Carpet Appearance
LADY GAGA IN THE TIFFANY DIAMOND
Was it the most expensive jewel ever worn to the Academy Awards? Worth a reported $30 million, it’s likely that Lady Gaga’s Tiffany diamond necklace claims that title. (The previous record was held by Titanic actress Gloria Stuart’s $20 million Harry Winston blue diamond, inspired by the movie’s Heart of the Ocean.)
But that was actually not why this particular diamond necklace sent jewelry experts into a frenzy on Oscar night. The 128-carat fancy yellow Tiffany diamond had been worn publicly by only two other people. One of them was Audrey Hepburn. When Lady Gaga emerged on the red carpet wearing it, with that McQueen dress and black leather gloves, history was made.
The ultimate getting-ready selfie: a white bathrobe and a 128-carat diamond.
The Event to Remember
CINEMAGIA CAPRI, BULGARI
The dinner was in a monastery, but there was nothing monkish about the three-day event Bulgari hosted in Capri to celebrate a High Jewelry Collection inspired by the heyday of la dolce vita and Italian film. There were royals and celebrities, but the real star was the fearless work of Lucia Silvestri, who challenges the conventions of high jewelry without sacrificing even one bit of glamour.
The Campaign that Mattered
The Jewels that Broke the Internet
What makes a piece of jewelry go viral? We like to think it’s some combination of star power, cultural cred, and just really good design. But a little bit of mystery helps too. From a surprising moment on the red carpet to the instant we saw J.Lo’s emerald-cut diamond engagement ring from Alex Rodriguez, we scoured the internet and consulted experts like Marion Fasel, founder of online jewelry magazine the Adventurine. The proof is in the likes.
The Auction Heard Round the World
MAHARAJAS & MUGHAL MAGNIFICENCE
“Jewelry sale of the century” is a daunting phrase, and yet it is how many described last June’s auction of 400 gemstones and jeweled objects from the Al-Thani collection at Christie’s New York. Five hundred years of history were on display—some of the most important pieces commissioned by noble families of India as well as rare examples from the great European jewelry houses (particularly Cartier). The yield was as impressive as the Golcondas: $109.3 million, second-highest ever for a private jewelry sale.
The Feel-Good Jewel
MUSE HAS A HEART
What do you get when you multiply 27 by 3 by 300? A whole lot of good. Muse—the fine jewelry showroom that represents the likes of Silvia Furmanovich and Nikos Koulis—partnered with 27 independent designers to create 300 charms in the shape of hearts, arrows, and keys, with 10 percent of proceeds going to charities dedicated to ALS, hunger, and mental health. It’s the holy grail of giving back: philanthropy that looks as good as it feels.
Elena Votsi Chain ($4,970). Charms, From Left: Guita M charm ($2,640); Elie Top charm ($8,305); Ten Thousand Things Rose Quartz charm ($350); Lito Pendant ($8,160); Nancy Newberg Polished Ruthenium charm ($3,520); Suzanne Syz Lifesaver charm ($7,405); Vram Charm with Heart-shaped Ruby ($3,960); Elena Votsi Eros Heart ($17,050); Bea Bongiasca charm with White Enamel ($2,510); Mark Davis Yellow Heart charm ($1,090); Elie Top charm ($7,940); Ten Thousand Things charm ($275); Silvia Furmanovich charm with Labradorite Scarab ($4,400); Sylva & Cie charm ($38,940); Michelle Fantaci Key charm ($1,660); Stephanie Windsor charm ($11,420); Maria Canale ($1,100); Tara Hirshberg Halo Heart charm ($2,660); Marlo Laz charm ($4,590); Federica Rettore charm with Light Blue and Pink Enamel ($6,040); Christina Alexiou Heart with Tourmaline Heart and Tourmaline ($4,520). Available At: Muse Showroom, 212-463-7950
They’re bright, fearless, and highly collectible. They’re the designers to watch from our 2020 class. And there’s something else these talents have that’s always in short supply: a point of view, the kind that keeps us intrigued.
The Oyster Perpetual Day-Date is best known for its dignified President bracelet, so called for its popularity with heads of state, including Lyndon Johnson. With its gem-set bezels and colorful dials, the latest generation, the Day-Date 36, enters the new decade with a welcome pep in its step.
The Major Sale
THE BOIVIN STARFISH
This brooch, a fully articulated sea creature of rubies and amethysts four inches across, was produced for Claudette Colbert at René Boivin in 1937. On June 20 it was announced that it had been acquired for Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts from dealer Lee Siegelson. It is believed that four Starfish were created; the brooch is the subject of a book, Diving for Starfish, that chronicles the pieces’ many lives and many owners. The one now owned by the MFA has been certified as Colbert’s. It’s a legend in the jewelry world. “How many jewels have this kind of charisma?” Siegelson asks.
The Tutti Frutti. The Reine Makeda. The Coloratura. Since its founding in 1847, Cartier has been at the forefront of innovative high jewelry beloved by queens, maharajas, heiresses, and movie stars. The maison’s latest collection, Magnitude, is another stunning display of jewelrymaking and also an exaltation of an approach rarely seen in high jewelry: the marriage of high and low. Colombian emeralds are paired with rock crystal; purple sapphires and garnets surround a volcanic matrix opal; rubies play with amazonite; brilliant-cut diamonds encircle a cabochon-cut rutilated quartz. Now, this is how you mix things up. Jewelers worship juxtapositions like these; Cartier pioneered them, and this collection proves the company is not resting on its laurels.
The Jewels of Stage and Screen
Leave it to critics to debate whether Robert De Niro or Joe Pesci was the true star of The Irishman; as far as T&C is concerned it was the jewelry—from pinkie rings to gold chains—that truly stole the show. And that wasn’t the year’s only instance of upstaging jewelry. From Adam Sandler’s turn as a Diamond District screwup in Uncut Gems to Helen Mirren’s tour de force Catherine the Great, the year’s most talked-about performances featured cameos—no pun intended—by blockbuster bling. Up next is Broadway’s Six, a musical about Henry VIII’s bejeweled but doomed wives.
The Gold We Love
The original status adornment remains a fixation millennia after the Egyptians first idolized its spiritual qualities. Irene Neuwirth uses floral motifs in her designs, and Prounis channels the boat-shaped forms of antiquity. VRAM’s sculptural rings are for everyday and elevated wear, while the oversize links of Pomellato’s Iconica collection redefine power dressing.
The Material Good
An ancient art form used as far back as the 13th century BC is now embraced by young designers eager to catch the eye with startling colors and shapes without using gemstones. Beholding these modern examples, even the trained eye wonders, “How did they do that?”
One great piece is admirable; decades of them is extraordinary. True mavericks, the Yurmans celebrate 50 years of jewels and constant evolution with their 57th Street flagship.
A master class in ingenuity and imagination, his new Rizzoli monograph Jewels Sculpture should be required reading for anyone looking to design outside the box.
Francesca Amfitheatrof’s debut collection was inspired by “legends and audacity.” Her evocative necklaces referencing medieval armor had plenty of both.
Alessandro Sabbatini, 31, is a jewelry prodigy whose elaborate earrings and bracelets are a symphony of superlative stones, hundreds of them at a time. He’s in demand because he makes only 40 pieces a year.
In a year that saw the grand return of the time-honored tradition of men wearing jewelry (see: kings and maharajas and J.P. Morgan and Diplo and Timothée Chalamet and Justin Theroux), Tony-winning producer Jordan Roth stands out as a leader of the charge. “Jewelry has become a very meaningful part of my fashion palette to paint my story,” he wrote after hosting opening night at Saks Fifth Avenue’s new jewelry floor, the Vault. “To express who I am and how I feel, both to you and to myself. ” He has done exactly that while supporting such independent talents as the Paris wunderkind Emmanuel Tarpin and the Brazilian genius Silvia Furmanovich, while also showcasing a taste for legends like Belperron and David Webb. And all the while sharing the sheer joy that comes with wearing a great piece of jewelry.
The Grand Revival
Remember when cameos were old-fashioned? Well, this year Rihanna released a collection, and it was time to reconsider. Amedeo Scognamiglio first launched the cameo revolution when he brought the centuries-old craft into the future with “See No Evil” and skull ring cameos. And last spring Liz Swig collaborated with artists Cindy Sherman and Catherine Opie on a series of whimsical pieces now available through Gagosian Gallery. Sylva & Cie presented their cameos at the Las Vegas Couture show, and Hemmerle showed theirs at the Plaza Athénée and Sotheby’s London. And did you know cameos were the first campaign buttons? “Leaders often had cameos of themselves made and then gave them to loyal supporters. Elizabeth I did this often,” says Thomas Holman of London gallery Wartski. A revival, then, perfectly timed to an election year.
The Colored Stones
These designers are the names to know for white diamonds, but this year they proved they have just as much flair and swagger when they go for bold, romantic colors. The one-of-a-kind rings in the Winston Candy collection feature rare stones, like pink spinels and Mandarin garnets, that honor the spirit of statement 1950s cocktail rings. Lugano, meanwhile, masterfully mixed such materials as abalone, diamond, and tsavorite to create an iridescent pastel dream. And Chanel brought a Russian-style tiara back into the spotlight.
Dior Haute Joaillerie
Raspberry. Daffodil Poppy. Lime. They’re not just the colors of Gem Dior, the 99-piece high jewelry collection of pink sapphires, purple garnets, cyan tourmalines, and more (Gem Dior is a play on ‘I love’ in French). They reflect the exuberance of Victoire de Castellane’s reign as creative director of Dior Joaillerie, where she marries technique and poetry, much as the atelier’s founder did with couture. J’aime, indeed.
The Star Stone
RUBY / VAN CLEEF & ARPELS
Burmese rubies are the unicorns of the gem world, rare and more valuable than diamonds—and, from 2003 to 2016, banned in the U.S. It took Van Cleef & Arpels 10 years to complete its Treasure of Rubies collection, and it’s studded with 60 gobstobbers like the Rubis flamboyant, the Etoffe mystérieuse ring, and the Eventail souvèrain bracelet.
VCA’s new collection reimagines Marlene Dietrich’s Jarretière bracelet, once seen in Alfred Hitchcock’s Stage Fright.
During the high-stakes search for the perfect engagement ring, it’s easy to forget that buying jewelry, especially bridal jewelry, is one of the most romantic things a couple will ever do. These standouts—Jessica McCormack, De Beers, and Roberto Coin—prove that singular design and one-of-a-kind details make the magic last forever.
Best Sustainable Jewelry
THE BRANDS DOING MORE
Monique Péan uses only recycled 18K gold. Bulgari relies on the Kimberley Process to prevent the trade of conflict diamonds. Gucci and Pomellato are all part of the Kering Responsible Gold Framework, which ensures ethical production practices and invests in small-scale mining communities. Industrywide, the tide is turning. And it’s only the beginning.
The Diamonds We Loved
Diamonds are revered for their hardness—the word comes from an ancient Greek term meaning unbreakable—but in 2019 five designers found remarkable ways to give the stones the illusion of softness, movement, and flexibility. The result: sheer brilliance.
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