COLOURFUL RARE STONES HEADLINE PIAGET’S ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION AT THE BIENNALE DES ANTIQUAIRES IN PARIS, WRITES Emilie Yabut-razon
The 1960s and ’ 70s were a time of change. From New York to Paris, London to Rome, royalty, movie stars and artists began mixing as strictures defined by society dissolved. There were new looks in fashion, design, art and architecture, all of which brought a unique creative energy to the house of Piaget. It was in this era that Yves Piaget, a fourth-generation descendant of the Swiss watchmaker, joined the company and Piaget’s product range expanded from timepieces to jewellery. Yves’ ideas would have a profound influence on creation, from design to materials and colours.
“We decided that as this year is Piaget’s 140th anniversary, it was a good opportunity to talk about our past as a source of inspiration,” says Jean-bernard Forot, Piaget’s director of jewellery marketing. “The idea was not to copy the pieces of the past but to use their energy, style and decorative details and make new and contemporary designs.”
The 125-piece collection, called Extremely Piaget, was first shown at the 27th Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris in September. Piaget’s brand ambassador, actress Gong Li, was given an exclusive tour of the booth by the brand’s CEO, Philippe Léopold-metzger. Li also attended the biennale’s gala dinner wearing pieces from the range, which is divided into two groups.
The first line is called Extremely Colourful and features the use of vibrant stones such as turquoise, lapis lazuli, jade and onyx. These are not only used on the hard stone dials of watches, but also as focal pieces for high jewellery creations, such as a pair of earrings in 18K white gold set with two cushion-cut black opals and 300 diamonds, sapphires and emeralds forming a geometric drop pattern. This series also highlights the brand’s strength as a goldsmith, particularly in the creation of chains and cables as well as hammered and etched gold pieces.
According to Forot, one of the most difficult pieces to make was a necklace in pink gold set with marquise-cut diamonds and turquoise. “It required extreme precision in terms of etching, mounting and hammering gold, as the piece was very thin, much like a ribbon, and it had to fit comfortably on the neck yet remain flexible. To do such a piece requires sophisticated techniques and a very high level of manufacture.”
The second line, called Extremely Sparkling, showcases the brand’s know-how in cutting and setting precious gemstones. A necklace with marquise diamonds framing two magnificent emeralds of more than 20 carats each is one of the stars of the collection, not only for the design and workmanship, but also because it took more than six months for the Piaget team to find sugarloaf and cabochon emeralds of the same colour. Also among the highlights are a sautoir shaped like a Peter Pan collar with 528 diamonds in marquise, brilliant, pear and cushion cuts, and a necklace with 84 blue
sapphire beads, diamonds and a 19.39-carat emerald. “In this range, we show ways of wearing the jewellery that is a bit more outstanding and daring, such as an ear cuff, a collar or a golden necktie sautoir with a watch,” says Forot.
The collection, which took 18 months to complete, also offers several timepieces, including secret cuff watches with large, hand-engraved sapphire, amethyst and emerald ovals as the cover, and models inspired by the 1965 Piaget watch that Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis owned, where a hard stone is placed over an oval dial set with precious stones on the bezel. The watches feature jade, turquoise or lapis lazuli dials. Bracelets come in supple gold mesh adorned with the “palace” decor, which makes the outer part of the bracelet look like an iridescent ribbon, while the inside reveals hundreds of links precisely interwoven to give the bracelet flexibility and softness.
“For us, it was important to come back to the roots of Piaget and find ways to be daring but remain elegant,” says Forot. “Every collection has a story, and this one is very much focused on the history of the maison, but echoing the same essence of harmony, prestige and playfulness that has always been part of our collections.”
BLING IT ON A model displays a white gold necklace set with more than 60 carats of diamonds and a white gold ring set with more than 10 carats of diamonds
CRYSTAL RAIN Piaget’s booth at the Grand Palais in Paris; a magnificent collar necklace set with marquise-cut diamonds
CRAFT HAPPY Piaget showcases its expertise in gold hammering and grain crimping in this cuff watch
GORGEOUS GEMS From top: Diamond sautoir watch; white gold earrings with black opal, sapphires and emeralds; platinum ring set with 17.48-carat emerald
STAR POWER Piaget’s brand ambassador, actress Gong Li, attended the opening gala and took a tour of the booth