Trend: Ornamental stones conquer horology

Malachite, lapis lazuli, turquoise, agate, to name but a few: these opaque stones began to appear in the art of contemporary Haute Joaillerie relatively recently. I believe in the process they have revolutionised the world of precious jewellery! Now, designers, brands and their clients too are gradually moving away from appreciating jewels exclusively from a commercial standpoint, preferring to make assessments on the aesthetic value of jewellery as well. In my opinion, this is a move that has allowed jewellery to reach new levels, and become a catalyst for a new creative wave in watchmaking as well.

The collections of 2019-2020 are vivid illustrations of the fact that high jewellery and watchmaking can coexist in perfect harmony. This is especially true in the collections of Chopard, Boucheron, Van Cleef & Arpels, Bvlgari and others, where both the craft of watchmaking and the art of jewellery coincide. These brands manage to weave spectacular design techniques into the aesthetic of their watches and jewellery - one of these techniques is the exquisite use of such opaque stones.  

Bvlgari Serpenti Incantati watch with malachite and diamonds in rose gold


The diamonds of the highest quality that give the L’Heure du Diamant collection its name brilliantly demonstrate the virtuosity of the house’s immensely talented jewellers. However, Chopard designers did not dwell purely on colourless stones, and the collection is given a lease of life by a set of eight timely new pieces adorned with opaque stones. Their dials are made of Australian opal, malachite, lapis lazuli, jade, and tiger's eye, and are framed with diamonds, while the white gold, leather or satin bracelets are characteristic Chopard style. All of the timepieces are inspired by the original models of 1969, released back then for a young and stylish clientele. Time passes, but I believe L’Heure du Diamant remains the house’s best-selling collection. 

Van Cleef&Arpels

I think that there is no such thing as a jewellery fan who is not by now familiar with the Alhambra collection. Its iconic quatrefoil motif can be seen not only on the brand’s jewellery, but also on their watches. The malachite, lapis lazuli, onyx and turquoise design looks particularly impressive against a background of yellow gold in the Sweet Alhambra model. An immediately recognisable blue ornamental stone adorns the Perlée Secret watch in yellow gold, which is also decorated by green malachite and pink carnelian. In the highest end of Van Cleef & Arpels’ collection, aventurine dominates, adorning the dial of the two Lady Arpels Planétarium models as well as Lady Arpels Jour Nuit.


The real masterpiece of ornamental stone watchmaking is undoubtedly the Serpenti Secret watch from Bvlgari. It comes in the form of a cuff decorated with malachite inserts and the house’s iconic symbol – a slithering snake. The scales are encrusted with diamonds, and two rubellites sparkle in depiction of the creature’s eyes, while the third red tourmaline is inserted into the crown on its head. The Serpenti Incantati is another reptile-adorned model, in which the beast encircles a diamond-edged dial set on a rose gold case. It, like the substrate that lies beneath the hands, is decorated with a beautiful green malachite, the colour of which has been transferred also onto the brand’s alligator bracelet. The new piece for the 2020 spring collection is the Diva’s Dream watch, made with lapis lazuli. This is a design that has a green malachite predecessor.


The French House, whose history dates back more than a hundred years, has released the Hortensia Eden Collection in anticipation of the coming summer. The collection is filled with a set of stunning watch innovations, all inspired by bright natural stones. The ultra-feminine jewelled mini-watches derive their beauty from the use of brightly shaded dials made from malachite, turquoise, lapis lazuli, mother of pearl and pink opal, that work in harmony with crocodile or satin leather straps that come in five different colours: pink powder, fuchsia, green, blue and orange. The perimeter of the dial, as well as the four main hour indices, are decorated with colourless diamonds and floral elements made of gold, emphasising the richness of the coloured minerals. I should note at this point that this is not the house’s first watch collection composed of such minerals; in 2019, a line of nine Pierres de Rêve models with sections made from jasper, rhodonite, azurite, dendrite opal, dendrite agate, chrysocolla and pietersite were released.

Chaumet Hortensia Eden Collection watches with malachite, turquoise, lapis lazuli, mother of pearl, pink opal and diamonds in yellow and white gold


The watch collection of the Dior Grand Bal fashion house includes the amazing Plume line: the upper part of the dials of these creations are decorated with turquoise, mother-of-pearl or tiger's eye, while the lower part is painted with bird feathers! The watch’s 36mm case is made of polished stainless steel, while pink gold and colourless diamonds form a decorative ring, covering the rim and central elements with a stunning abundance. The bracelet is made of alligator leather, denim or velveteen depending on the model. And if you are looking for a watch for everyday wear – look to the more concise lines of D de Dior (25 mm) or La Mini D de Dior (19 mm). They include models with a dial composed of malachite and lapis lazuli in a gold case on a steel bracelet.


Three of the watch collections of the French jewellery house Piaget have been updated with a colourful twist: the Gala collection has been enriched with bright new pieces – a malachite dial surrounded by colourless diamonds is now an option, with a bracelet made of textured gold or green leather. Extremely feminine models are made from minimalist malachite, carnelian or opal dials – each delighting the eye with rich shades which are highlighted by gold bracelets made of opulently textured gold. And in the cult collection entitled Possession, watches have been added with elegant forms of round discs made of malachite and lapis lazuli, and which are outlined in pink gold and diamond. They are held on the wrist by leather straps that match the tone of whichever coloured mineral the owner has chosen.

As is no doubt evident by now, opal, malachite and lapis lazuli are still the leading three new stones and are truly the favourites of designers across the various houses. Surely no one can stay indifferent to their stunning colour! Having become acquainted with these new pieces, perhaps you, too, have been charmed by the spell of these alluring opaque stones.

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