Boghos­sian’s ex­quis­ite new high jew­ellery col­lec­tion takes its in­spi­ra­tion from the famed Silk Road

Architectural Digest (UAE) - - Contents - WORDS SO­PHIE STEVENS

Daz­zling high jew­ellery from Boghos­sian, in­spired by the an­cient Silk Road

Last month, in the midst of Lon­don’s heav­ing au­tumn art sea­son, the new Silk high jew­ellery col­lec­tion from Boghos­sian was un­veiled to clients over a sur­re­al­is­tic din­ner at White­hall’s Ban­quet­ing House. Hav­ing taken two years to com­plete, th­ese lat­est de­signs reimag­ine the art of an­cient silk weavers in jew­els that look to the cul­tural in­ter­ac­tions be­tween East and West that char­ac­terised the leg­endary Silk Road.

“Each set in this col­lec­tion was in­spired by key oases along the trade route, from Xian, China to Venice, Italy,” ex­plains the jew­ellery house’s CEO Al­bert Boghos­sian. “The pieces re­call ei­ther cities in their to­tal­ity, or par­tic­u­lar arts or cul­tures from each of the re­gions.”

The fin­ished col­lec­tion in­cludes a bracelet set with carved co­ral and lapis rows with be­spoke-cut di­a­mond blooms, all sit­ting atop a turquoise mo­saic rem­i­nis­cent of the walls of the an­cient Asian city of Sa­markand. Mean­while, the sump­tu­ous Venice set takes its in­spi­ra­tion from the late Re­nais­sance Ital­ian paint­ings of the fi­nal Silk Road des­ti­na­tion, with emer­alds in­laid into glow­ing mother-of-pearl en­closed by di­a­mond frames.

The jew­els also pay homage to Boghos­sian’s own ori­gins in Mardin, the Ar­me­nian town where the fam­ily first started trad­ing in gem­stones some six gen­er­a­tions ago. A neck­lace fea­tur­ing in­ter­laced rows of aqua­marines set in di­a­monds nod to the in­tri­cate mo­tifs found in the town’s lime­stone ar­chi­tec­ture, now pro­tected un­der Mardin’s cur­rent sta­tus as a UN­ESCO World Her­itage Site.

Creative di­rec­tor Ed­mond Chin has once again worked closely with Al­bert Boghos­sian and his neph­ews, Ralph and Roberto, on the col­lec­tion. The Sin­ga­porean gem­stone con­nois­seur’s for­mer ca­reer saw him head­ing Christie’s jew­ellery and jadeite

de­part­ment in Hong Kong be­fore open­ing his own ate­lier, Etcetera, in 2001. Hav­ing now known the Boghos­sian fam­ily for more than 20 years, he be­gan de­sign­ing a num­ber of one-of-a-kind pieces for the house be­fore fully com­ing on board in 2015. It has proved to be a fruit­ful part­ner­ship.

So how do Chin’s own creative ideas sit with those of the fam­ily? “Like Boghos­sian, Ed­mond is pas­sion­ate about the way in which a jewel is con­structed, and about to­day’s sig­na­ture mix of tra­di­tional and mod­ern craft-skills,” says Al­bert. “There is great syn­ergy in our shared de­ter­mi­na­tion to de­vise spe­cial cuts and set­ting tech­niques, to en­hance the light, colour and per­son­al­ity of each ex­tra­or­di­nary stone.”

This is shown through Chin’s per­sonal favourite from the new Silk col­lec­tion: the Tashkur­gan set, which sees the lines of an im­pe­rial car­pet from Mughal In­dia reimag­ined as di­a­mond-drenched branches in a neck­lace that can be con­verted into a di­a­dem ( jew­elled head­band). “The beau­ti­ful lines turn­ing into petals were very dif­fi­cult to achieve,” ex­plains Chin. “The fi­nal re­sult is one of both del­i­cacy and rich­ness, re­flect­ing the re­fined el­e­gance of the 16th-cen­tury im­pe­rial Mughal car­pet that in­spired it.”

Once again, some of the world’s rarest gems ap­pear in the new col­lec­tion, where Colom­bian emer­alds and nat­u­ral pearls can be found nes­tled into white jade, or boldly con­trast­ing ru­bies, emer­alds and sap­phires float on a bed of white and yel­low di­a­monds. Th­ese stones are gath­ered by the Boghos­sian clan in an end­less trea­sure hunt that sees them trav­el­ling to trad­ing cen­tres across the world, in­clud­ing New York, Basel and Hong Kong, as well as mines and mar­kets in re­mote lo­ca­tions.

Once th­ese gems have been pro­cured, work be­gins on blend­ing their nat­u­ral beauty with the pi­o­neer­ing tech­ni­cal feats that Boghos­sian is renowned for. Th­ese in­clude the near-in­vis­i­ble gem­stone set­tings of last year’s Merveilles col­lec­tion that took four years to per­fect.

Such in­no­va­tion shows no signs of slow­ing down in the Silk col­lec­tion, which pi­o­neers a method of spin­ning gold into fine silk-like threads be­fore strength­en­ing it so that a translu­cent golden-hued gauze can be weaved. “We at­tempt to make jew­ellery of an in­tri­cacy and com­pli­ca­tion not seen since an­cient times, com­bin­ing the skills of the hand with the lat­est ad­vances,” says Al­bert. De­spite such tech­ni­cal com­plex­ity, wear­a­bil­ity re­mains a key pri­or­ity of the house, with Al­bert in­sist­ing on move­ment and flu­id­ity as es­sen­tial in­gre­di­ents of the jew­ellery’s creative mix. “Our cre­ations need to be flow­ing, soft, and to fol­low the woman’s body and its move­ments.”

This in­ti­mate re­la­tion­ship be­tween a woman and her jew­ellery is what Al­bert be­lieves brings her to Boghos­sian in the first place, with her ap­pre­ci­a­tion of ‘the mean­ing and role of the jewel’ as well as a shared love of travel and cul­ture. Above all, she is un­fazed by the unique de­signs that char­ac­terise its col­lec­tions. As Al­bert sum­marises, “Our woman is not afraid to some­times wear some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent from in­dus­try stan­dards – to cross borders and go into un­charted ter­ri­to­ries.” boghos­sian­jew­

1 Di­a­mond, mother-of­pearl and pearl Xian neck­lace 2 Xian ear­rings3 Xian ring 4 Columbian Emer­ald, white jade, di­a­mond and pearl Nisha­pur neck­lace5 Emer­ald, mother-of­pearl and di­a­mond Venice ring 6 Nisha­pur ear­rings7 Black jade and di­a­mond Is­tan­bul bracelet

1 Tashkur­gan ear­rings 2 Di­a­mond and crys­talline jade Tashkur­gan neck­lace 3 Emer­ald, opal, motherof-pearl and pearl Dun­huang neck­lace4 Gold and di­a­mond Golden Flower pen­dant

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