Interlinking loops of metal are ubiquitous in jewellery and often mass-produced for speedy fashion collections. Taking something so ordinary and making it extraordinary is what makes chains in high jewellery so tempting. They’re familiar yet completely removed from the daily-wear scenario in which they’re most commonly worn. For this reason, I will always have a soft spot for meticulously considered and preciously adorned chains, whether for the neck, wrists, or ears. Throughout 2023, brands and Place Vendôme maisons have pulled out all the stops to breathe new life into links. Some have traversed Pop Art inspirations, others have elevated chunk chains into something sensual and rope-like, while the bravest have created statement swinging pendulums affixed with coloured gems. There really is something for everyone.
The Van Cleef & Arpels Le Grand Tour Venice Bracelet
As we journey around Europe with Van Cleef & Arpels, we must make a pit stop in Italy to view this intricate chain bracelet from the Venice suite, complete with oval-shaped rubies enveloping the wrist. Its crisscross links of warm rose and white gold are evocative of the bridges that rise and fall over Venice’s network of canals, accented with bezel-set princess-cut diamonds as a further architectural touch. However, these aren’t the only chain creations in the Le Grand Tour High Jewellery collection to grab our attention. The Rome set contains the Diana transformable long necklace with a cushion-cut sapphire of 8.55 carats and a colourful concoction of beaded linking parts, and the Piazza Divina with precious links of white gold leading the eye to a 13.09-carat Ethiopian emerald.
The Bulgari Mediterranea Roman Esedra Sautoir Necklace
One of the most striking pieces in the Bulgari Mediterranea High Jewellery collection shines from the Roman Splendor chapter. The Roman Esedra sautoir has the most deliciously colourful hexagonal-shaped pendant, set with a 68.88-carat emerald cabochon, amethysts, turquoises, further emeralds, and geometric sunrays of diamonds. For this article, though, it’s the long and detailed chain that has our hearts. Slightly elongated oval-shaped links are dusted with round brilliant-cut diamonds and connected to ‘stations’ with emerald-cut rondels. Elsewhere, there are nine hexagonal-shaped decorative elements that envelop the neck, dotted with amethyst cabochons, diamonds and turquoises.
The Louis Vuitton Deep Time Rupture Necklace
Undoubtedly one of the most shared photographs of the 2023 high jewellery season, the Louis Vuitton Rupture necklace from the Deep Time High Jewellery collection is a sensational feat of layering and contrast. The eye is immediately drawn to a 15.02-carat oval-cut opal from Mexico, which sits at the centre of a platinum chain at the base of the necklace. Next, there’s a triangular-cut yellow sapphire of 13.81 carats, this time hailing from Sri Lanka, on a thick golden chain, topped with a row of 13 round-cut zircons for a total of 163.71 carats. A smattering of diamonds and a further 17.75 carats of opal cabochons complete the composition, which manages to blend classical and contemporary elements in striking fashion.
The Ana Khouri x Christie’s Paris Exhibition Jewels
In July 2023, Christie’s hosted an exhibition in Paris to celebrate the works of high jeweller Ana Khouri, whose sculptural style always leads to special, unique creations. Among the pieces on display were some sensational chain-fueled chokers, including one with a smooth curve of rock crystal and an emerald-cut green tourmaline drop. A second choker, this time encrusted with pavé diamonds in yellow gold, features a large pink diamond as its accent stone, suspended by a quartet of oval-shaped links. The exhibition with Christie’s Paris was themed around ‘connection’ with “oval forms symbolizing the feminine”. Of course, nothing is more connected than a chain link, especially in a three-strand necklace with a row of round brilliant-cut diamond solitaires and two curb chains injected with baguette-cut stones. Now, the only question is, which one is your favourite?
The De Beers Metamorphosis Summer Lariat Necklace
Inspired by the spiralling forms of ammonite fossils, the Summer suite in the Metamorphosis High Jewellery collection is one of our favourites for its warm and uplifting plethora of yellow gold designs. This piece is a standout – the Summer Lariat necklace – featuring a chord-like chain of gold with two pear-shaped diamond drops accentuated with two rough yellow diamonds. The central clasp slides up and down, allowing the chain to be worn at different lengths, and is also decorated with a band of princess-cut diamonds and a fossil-inspired engraved motif. It is deceptively simple yet beautifully constructed.
The Pomellato Ode to Milan High Jewellery Collection
Any story of chains in high jewellery has to include Pomellato, which has always had a penchant for weaving links in its most elaborate designs. Take, for example, the new Ode to Milan High Jewellery collection, which includes numerous pieces with chain details, including bracelets, chokers and long necklaces. In the Vertical Landscapes chapter, there’s the Giardini Verticali necklace with three emerald-cut indicolites suspended from over-sized rose gold links, covered in diamonds; the Urban Bloom bracelets with tsavorites, blue sapphires and pink and violet sapphires in a chain-link mesh of contrasting rose, yellow or white gold; and the Nudo Cascade necklace with dripping grey moonstones and diamonds. A standout is the Castello necklace from the Contemporary Heritage chapter, where a collar of chunky gourmette-style links are alternated with reverse-set rubellites of 29 carats and a further 28 carats of baguette-, princess- and brilliant-cut diamonds. The finishing touch is a swag chain that hangs across the decolletage, creating an additional layer of finery.
The Piaget Metaphoria Essentia Necklace
Proving that chain links don’t always have to be geometric, Piaget wowed with its Essentia suite, including a necklace, a pair of earrings and a matching watch, as part of its Metaphoria High Jewellery collection. The sinuous and organically shaped links, crafted in rose gold and set with diamonds, are connected with diamond-set oval-shaped loops of gold to add structure and balance. The composition is said to be inspired by driftwood found on the beach, which is most clearly captured in the watch, complete with a deep brown tiger’s eye dial.
The Chaumet Le Jardin de Chaumet Flowers Tulipe Necklace
Out of all the creations in the whimsical Le Jardin de Chaumet High Jewellery collection, one stood out for its intensity… the Tulipe necklace in the Flowers chapter. This white gold chain features marquise-shaped diamond-set links that lead to an asymmetrically placed, abstract tulip motif set with a 10.71-carat pear-shaped red spinel, calibrated buff-topped red spinels, round spessartite garnets and diamonds. Other, more unusual iterations of chains appear in this collection, too, like the Pensees and Feuille de Vigne secret watches. Both have bracelet straps that appear like a map of bezel-set round diamonds connected through a network of white gold.
The Boucheron More is More Just An Illusion Necklace
We took a deep dive into the More is More collection, and there really are some spectacularly weird and wonderful pieces to explore. One of the most outrageously fun was this Just An Illusion necklace, crafted to look like a cartoonish creation straight from the pages of a comic book. The base of the piece is titanium, layered with blue, white and black HyCeram – a hybrid ceramic compound. The orange chain links are paved with mandarin garnets and round diamonds, thinly lined with black lacquer, and contrasted with rock crystal (mirroring the look and feel of baguette-cut diamonds) for extra dimension and contrast. Perhaps it is not to everyone’s tastes, but you must admit it’s a work of art!
The Gucci Allegoria High Jewellery Collection
This collection surprised us when we wrote about it earlier this year. It’s a step away from the Hortus Deliciarum high jewellery offering that has dominated Gucci headlines for some time and presents a more nuanced (albeit still ostentatious) take on high jewels for the Italian house. Long chains are present throughout the collection, including hefty pendulums of green tourmaline, princess-style necklaces with Paraiba tourmaline, chrysoberyls, spinels and diamonds, plus a sensational floral chain set with fancy colour tourmalines, leading the eye to an emerald-cut pink tourmaline of epic proportions. What’s important is that the chains here aren’t an afterthought but a fundamental ingredient in the design’s overall recipe.
Whether you are a chain lover or a hater, it’s impossible to deny that when done well, the results can be beautiful and creatively diverse. Where might the humble link go next? We can’t wait to find out.