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Jew­els from the Dior à Ver­sailles, Pièces Se­crètes col­lec­tion; and Chopard’s jew­ellery-in­spired Happy Di­a­monds hand­bag

In the late 1600s, when Louis XIV de­cided to trans­form a rel­a­tively mod­est château in Ver­sailles into his pri­mary palace, he knew that ar­chi­tec­ture could be an ef­fec­tive tool in com­mu­ni­cat­ing power. The Palace of Ver­sailles was made into the home of the French court, and went on to be­come an enduring sym­bol of the op­u­lence and deca­dence of Louis XIV’s reign.

The palace has acted as a source of in­spi­ra­tion for the House of Dior since its founder de­signed his firstever haute cou­ture col­lec­tion. More re­cently, Vic­toire de Castel­lane, artis­tic di­rec­tor of high-jew­ellery for Dior, has used the palace to in­form her own cre­ations. Her lat­est col­lec­tion, the fi­nal part of a trip­tych ded­i­cated to the French mon­u­ment, hones in on the hid­den parts of the palace – the pri­vate pas­sage­ways, clan­des­tine boudoirs and other un­seen as­pects.

De Castel­lane’s first homage to the French palace, dubbed sim­ply Dior à Ver­sailles, saw her “imag­ine Ver­sailles by night when gem­stones sparkle in the can­dle­light”. As such, chan­de­liers are ref­er­enced in the di­a­mond drop of a neck­lace; a cur­tain tie-back from the royal apart­ments is reimag­ined as a pair of ear­rings; and a bow is taken di­rectly from a piece of dec­o­ra­tive Ro­coco-style fur­ni­ture.

The sec­ond part of the trip­tych, Dior à Ver­sailles, Côté Jardins, or Ver­sailles, act II, cel­e­brates the palace’s ex­pan­sive gar­dens, draw­ing in­spi­ra­tion from its flower beds, groves, ponds, stat­ues and sandy walk­ways, in a colour­ful con­coc­tion over­flow­ing with gem­stones such as pink sap­phires, black opals, emer­alds, gar­nets and sap­phires.

The fi­nal act, Dior à Ver­sailles, Pièces Se­crètes, is laden with in­trigue. Un­usual stones are paired with play­ful open­ing mech­a­nisms that pay trib­ute to the idea of love to­kens, such as the Van­ité Emer­aude neck­lace (pic­tured). Else­where, a di­a­mond piv­ots on its axis to re­veal a stone hid­den be­neath a stone – much like a con­cealed door­way that un­ex­pect­edly of­fers up a whole new vista.

Ca­chette Tiroir Dia­mant is a weighty rec­tan­gu­lar ring topped with a pear-shaped di­a­mond that calls to mind a tiny, in­tri­cate chest. It fea­tures a con­cealed com­part­ment that slides out like a drawer. Mean­while, minia­ture crowns top mis­matched ear­rings cra ed from di­a­monds and green beryls; and are to be found hid­den be­hind a white opal in the Ca­chette Opale Claire ring. Ru­bies, emer­alds, blue and pink spinels and yel­low di­a­monds are off­set with white di­a­monds to cre­ate a col­lec­tion that is as op­u­lent as its name­sake.

“I wanted to use chiaroscuro stones in shades of faded rose, reds verg­ing on pur­ple, iri­des­cent moon­stones and more in­tense sky blues,” says de Castel­lane. “The colours them­selves seem a lit­tle mys­te­ri­ous, like an­tique silks.”

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