This mythological long-lived bird possesses the unique ability to resurrect itself. Pre-empting its own death, the phoenix bursts into flames to be reborn from its ashes. The name of the bird comes from an ancient Greek word, which originally meant a red or fiery colour. The bird is therefore primarily depicted as being the colour of a red-yellow flame. Lorenz Baumer presented a phoenix in the form of an open necklace made of coloured sapphires that smoothly wrap around the neck; Henn, in a pendant carved from citrine; Jean Schlumberger in yellow diamond brooches; Van Cleef & Arpels with brooches made of rubies and gold mother-of-pearl; and Sara Sze in yellow gold and 16mm gold South Sea pearl rings. Incidentally, Sarah’s “Golden Phoenix” really is a good luck charm: her design was awarded 1st place in the creative category at the 2019 International Jewellery Stars Awards. Wallace Chan made a transforming ring in his characteristically philosophical manner, emphasising the very essence of the phoenix, and Cindy Chao created a single bird feather that contained all the “fire” and more than 1,000 diamonds in 36 different shades. The Mikimoto jewellery house also chose to depict the feathers and made a spectacular pearl necklace. Queelin and Buccellati, meanwhile, decided to focus on the bright glow of colourless diamonds.
Another mythical beast that is also associated with the element of fire is the dragon. We have been experiencing a so-called “dragon boom” in the 20th and 21st centuries due to an ever-growing interest in this creature, one which appears in all forms of fantasy literature. The mainstream has not failed to inspire jewellers either, who have captured their unique vision using precious materials. One of the most spectacular works was the Autore set: large dragons with bodies made of keshi pearls and diamond heads that are simply mesmerising! A diamond beauty with scarlet cabochon eyes made by Roberto Coin is designed to settle on their wearer’s wrist, but his cousin from Piaget, adopting the same position, also has the capacity to “answer” the question: “what time is it?” The Cartier jewellery maison offers a whole collection dedicated to these mythical animals: their diamond bodies are accentuated by coloured precious stones, a reminder of the fiery danger of this mystical species. And the craftsmen at Jewellery Theatre have made brooches in the shape of the eccentric three-headed protagonist of Russian fairy tales - the Gorynych Dragon - which, like the pink-purple Ilaria Lanzoni bracelet, brought a real smile to my face.
The sea has always been as much of a mystery as a woman’s heart. For a long time, mermaids were associated with beauty, but a new breed of dangerous mermaid has been concocted as the true femme fatale. Surprisingly, there are whole collections dedicated to the latter depiction, even if few are aware of this storytelling angle. The Spanish jeweller Magerit has embodied the image of a delicate but powerful mermaid with an irresistible force of attraction in its Atlantis set, including rings, earrings and a necklace, using aquamarines and blue sapphires, and in its Elements set with quartzes of various colours. The jewellery and watch brand Ulysse Nardin, together with artist Milo Manara, created the Classico Manara series which features 10 vignettes depicting a love story between a mermaid and a woman. And Arunashi, which exclusively makes custom-made jewellery, presented just one piece on this theme: a bright mermaid brooch with neon paraiba tourmalines.
This fabled beast is most often depicted as a horse with one horn protruding from its forehead. According to legend, its horn is even harder than the most durable diamond, and its tears can heal both bodily and mental wounds. In general, contemporary jewellers depict the unicorn as snow-white as the unicorn has always been considered a symbol of cleanliness, purity and chastity. It regularly appears in the collections of Van Cleef & Arpels, and each time in a new way. It debuted in 1950 in a silver brooch, in 2010 - the Les Voyages Extraordinaires unicorn is completely encrusted with diamonds, and in 2016 it became part of the L’Arche de Noé collection and its body was adorned with sapphires. Even more interesting is the Van Cleef & Arpels unicorn that became part of the Rock of Wonders sculpture: it can be transformed into a brooch by removing part of the side and opening the clasp. As well as its depiction as a snow-white horse, David Webb created a unicorn covered with black lacquer; Schlumberger opted for yellow sapphires and amethysts; Van Cleef & Arpels - rubies and silver; and Chaumet - lapis lazuli! This centuries-old impression has been repeatedly reimagined.
The winged horse, the favourite of the muses, was begotten by the Ocean (the offspring of the Olympian god Poseidon). According to myth, only a kind person can tame a stubborn animal, and Pegasus will always run away from evil. However, the legend also says that a person who catches sight of a winged horse must be endowed with tremendous power with which he can work miracles. Let’s look at the most interesting Pegasus jewellery and start performing our own! Pegasus can be any colour, so, when creating their pieces, jewellers are only limited by their own imaginations. Yet most jewellers select colourless diamonds as a symbol of purity, since Pegasus is only interested in good deeds. Van Cleef & Arpels fashioned his coat in red-pink shades of rubies and coral; Boucheron weaved amethysts and aquamarines into his mane; and Sevan Bıçakçı diluted colourless diamonds with black ones. An interesting design solution was found by Hemmerle, who portrayed Pegasus on one side of a pair of earrings and, on the other, the constellation of the same name - a reminder of the sky across which Pegasus gallops faster than the wind.
The characters presented here are the international five, familiar to most people anywhere in the world. But each nation has its own mythical creatures that are also captured in precious stones and metals. As you can see, our lives have room for fairy tales - you just need to let them in.