Couture Week Trends: The Return of the Mysterious Opal

This year's July high jewellery presentations in Paris, France, were filled with beautiful designs and luxurious materials. The enchanting opal gemstone stood out among the most popular gemstones featured. Let's consider some of the most impressive opal designs from Paris Haute Couture 2023.

Opals have always been described as magical, alluring, and full of mystery. Their unique colour play, mesmerising iridescence and dimensions draw you into their otherworldly silica spheres, creating an intergalactic visual effect. Each of this special gem's one hundred and forty varieties brings its colour, presence and beauty to high jewellery designs. It is for this reason that designers have used the opal gemstone for years as the main character of their creations. This year was no different, with Maisons from around the world gathering at Place Vendôme to exhibit their latest masterpieces. Here are some of our favourites…

An oval-cut 15.02-ct opal from Mexico featured in the Rupture high jewellery necklace by Louis Vuittion in their Deep Time collection

Chaumet Écorce Suite from Le Jardin de Chaumet High Jewellery Collection

Chaumet's latest high jewellery collection, Le Jardin de Chaumet, celebrates the brand's long-standing history with nature as its greatest source of inspiration. As the jewellery admirer journeys through lush fields of wheat, grape vines and manicured country gardens, the collection ends in wild green woodland forests. What better gem than the black opal to bring this hidden world to life? This iridescent gem is perhaps the most coveted and sought-after opal variety among designers and gem collectors. The Écorce suite is comprised of four pieces, three of which feature impressive opals. The highlight of the suite is a fully articulated necklace that is recreated in the image of tree bark. An impressive 50.61-carat black Australian opal sits at the heart of the design, surrounded by dewdrops of multi-coloured sapphires and diamonds. This piece is accompanied by a ring set with a 10.13-carat black opal within a veined shank, followed by a pair of matching earrings individually featuring 3.65-carat and 3.91-carat gems.

Dior Joaillerie Couture Gardens High Jewellery collection

The Couture Gardens high jewellery collection by Victoire de Castellane represents the collision of Christian Dior's most cherished design inspirations –haute couture fashion and flowers. Here, classic Dior stitching techniques, bows and dress designs are melded with the flowers of Monsieur Dior's childhood to create a high jewellery collection full of displaced nostalgia. The set of three opal jewels in this collection includes a necklace set with a 27.54-carat cabochon-cut white opal, earrings with 6.20 carats of white pear cabochon-cut opal central stones and a ring set with a 5.08-carat pear cabochon-cut white opal. Each of these large gems is surrounded by smaller cabochon-cut white opals and diamonds set in rose gold to bring out the fire within.

Louis Vuitton Deep Time Rupture and Bones High Jewellery Necklaces

In her latest high jewellery collection for the House, artistic director of watches and jewellery Francesca Amfitheatrof takes lovers of fine jewels on a journey back to the origins of the universe. The Deep Time collection boasts some of the brand's most complex and precious pieces to date, two of which feature impressive opals. The Louis Vuitton Bones High Jewellery transformable necklace is a representation of the first formation of life on planet Earth. The highlight of the piece is a 43.58-carat oval-cut opal set in white gold. Sprays of tourmalines, tanzanites and diamonds aid in highlighting the various blue hues found in this unique gem. What's more, this statementing bib-style necklace is accompanied by a large solitaire opal ring.

Ana de Armas wearing Louis Vuitton Bones transformable high jewellery necklace in white gold, platinum, featuring a 43.58-ct oval-cut Australian opal, one 20.93-ct pear-cut Paraiba tourmaline, tanzanites, tourmalines and diamonds from the Deep Time collection

Elsewhere, the Rupture High Jewellery necklace is a physical representation of the movement between tectonic plates that caused the separation of the supercontinent known as Gondwana into the continents we know today. The piece, created in contrasting hues of yellow gold and platinum, is set with 15 oval-cut opals for 32.77 carats. The highlight of the piece is an oval-cut opal of 15.02 carats from Mexico.

Louis Vuitton Rupture transformable high jewellery necklace in gold, platinum, featuring a 15.02-ct oval-cut opal, a 13.81-ct triangle-cut yellow sapphire, opals, zircons and diamonds from the Deep Time collection

Mikimoto Praise to The Sea Branched Murex Brooch

Mikimoto's Praise to the Sea high jewellery collection celebrates the 130th anniversary of the invention of the cultured pearl's birthplace – the sea. Every piece in this luxurious series is created from materials that bring to life the colourful flora and fauna of mother nature's aquatic realm. The Branched Murex brooch is inspired by "the shallow waters where I imagined a secret treasure was hidden within the deep sea," says Mikimoto's creative director, Yu Suzuki. The piece features a striking 7.13-carat cabochon opal. I must also mention the Clownfish & Sea Anemone Brooch, which "expresses the adorable way that clownfish dart through sea anemones," Suzuki adds. Feather pearls are used to create the anemone along with a 6.78-carat fire opal to bring to life the body of the clownfish.

Piaget Metaphoria High Jewellery Watches

Piaget's ornamental stone timepieces soared to new heights of popularity in the 1960s when stars such as Jackie Kennedy and Elizabeth Taylor were seen sporting them in public. In its latest high jewellery collection, Metaphoria, the brand brings two high jewellery watches to the public that not only use opals as their dials' surfaces but also as their key design elements. The Venilia watch has a wide oval-shaped black opal dial, surrounded by diamonds set in white gold. Similarly, the Alitura watch has a pattern of black opal, chalcedony, sodalite, pietersite and diamond, composed using a marquetry-style technique. What made both pieces so difficult to create was the need to mount the watch mechanism into the opal, which is a notoriously delicate material.

Tiffany & Co. Out of the Blue High Jewellery Collection

This year's Tiffany & Co. Blue Book high jewellery collection, Out of the Blue, celebrates a world of aquatic-inspired high jewellery creations in honour of Jean Schlumberger's Legacy. Two pieces stood out amongst all others as exceptional opal-centric creations. The Blue Shell bracelet and ring are inspired by drawings of Jean Schlumberger's Baguette Shell brooch. Schlumberger created this archival piece whilst being inspired by the uniqueness and iridescence of seashells, qualities also held by the opal. The two high jewellery creations feature black opals, individually of over 18 and 23 carats.

Van Cleef & Arpels Feuillage Rêveur & Symphonie de l’Eau Clips

Van Cleef & Arpels' Le Grand Tour high jewellery collections take viewers on an epic journey through Europe's most beautiful and historic countries. The Feuillage Rêveur clip conjures the bucolic garden of the Lichtenthal Abbey in Baden-Baden, with a 39.80-carat Australian boulder opal at the core of this design. The gem retains part of the rock it came from, surrounded by sprays of diamonds injected with round and marquise-shaped pink and blue sapphires to evoke a moonlit path through the gardens.

The Symphonie de l'Eau similarly conjures the hanging gardens of the Italian town of Ravello. Featuring a 5.88-carat black opal, the piece creates the atmosphere of the lush blue sunlit villas that are dotted along the Amalfi coast. The central opal sits in a swirl of rose gold, white gold and diamond foliage, with its fire further accentuated by the presence of blue sapphires and tsavorite garnets.

Van Cleef & Arpels Symphonie de l’eau clip in white gold, rose gold, featuring a 5.88-ct cabochon black opal, sapphires, tsavorite garnets, green tourmalines and diamonds from Le Grand Tour collection

Buccellati Mosaico Opal and Diamond Ring

Milanese brand Buccellati revealed its latest high jewellery collection, Mosaico, inspired by the colours and shapes of glass paste tesserae of Byzantine-era mosaics. "I decided to look at the great works of the past that could provide a strong inspiration," says the Maison's creative director, Andrea Buccellati. One of the great highlights of this collection is a cocktail ring set with a 9.14-carat cabochon opal. The impressive gemstone sits at the helm of the design, surrounded by a Pagoda-like openwork scalar ring created from carved yellow and white gold set with fancy yellow and white diamonds.

As you can see, the high jewellery pieces noted above owe their grandeur in large part to the use of the mysterious opal gemstone. Its unique fire, colour and depth are what allow all viewers to immerse themselves in the piece, falling into an enchanted world of endless colour and shine. We cannot wait to see what opal designs will come in January!

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