Photography by Jeffrey Westbrook. Styled and produced by Will Kahn.
Throughout history, jewelry created after a period of crisis has been marked by bold irreverence. We celebrate this year’s daring creative talents—and the joy a good ring can bring.
The Comeback of the Year
A sapphire dolphin for Liz Taylor. A Ribbon Rosette necklace set with the Tiffany Yellow Diamond for Audrey Hepburn. Ruby berries for Jackie Kennedy. “I want to capture the irregularity of the universe,” said Jean Schlumberger, the visionary Frenchman who arrived at Tiffany & Co. in 1956, bringing with him an exceptionally daring point of view. When he retired in the late ’70s, his most fantastical designs were archived. And then: the Bird on a Rock perched on Jay-Z! Lady Gaga in the Flowers and Leaves! Treasures rediscovered, a legend reincarnated.
The Year’s Jewels of Pop Culture
Certain jewels define a character. Think of Carrie Bradshaw’s nameplate necklace, a symbol of individualism on the original Sex and the City and, 17 years later, on its HBO Max follow-up. Or Bridgerton’s sparkling embrace of Georgian-era ladies’ love of matching sets. Of course jewelry can signify darker moods, too (see: that pearl gobbling scene from Spencer). And it often captures the imagination in real life: Rihanna bedecked in vintage Chanel and a Christian Lacroix cross for her pregnancy reveal is a moment for the ages. Speaking of, Queen Elizabeth is celebrating 70 years at the helm of the British Crown—is there a more appropriate commemoration than platinum?
Although Carrie Bradshaw didn’t ditch her signature necklace in And Just Like That, other pendants stepped into the spotlight, like Marlo Laz’s spiked heart. As for IRL lucky charms, L.A. Ram Odell Beckham Jr. showed up to the Super Bowl in a legendary Schlumberger brooch. Then his team won—coincidence?
The Move of the Year
Boucheron’s single biggest commission in its 164-year history was ordered in 1928—and it was for a man. The Maharaja of Patiala, Sir Bhupinder Singh, presented the maison with thousands of gems and asked for 149 pieces. Indian princes were voracious for jewelry, and they made no distinction between options for men and women. Today’s leading patrons are royalty, too: princes of pop culture. And they also don’t care much for traditional gender norms.
Louis Vuitton, Mikimoto, and Boucheron have recently gone gender-neutral, joining unisex brands like Uniform Object.
Jewels are de rigueur once more to a man’s black-tie wardrobe. Consider these A-list examples: Pete Davidson paying tribute to his late father in a garnet-studded Fred Leighton necklace at the 2021 Met Gala; Jonah Hill in vintage Leighton aquamarines, pearls, and flower brooches at the premiere of Don’t Look Up; and the trinity of Daniel Kaluuya, his exquisite Cartier rivière, and his Oscar for Judas and the Black Messiah.
The Epiphany of the Year
It’s time we expanded our definition of precious. By Jill Newman
The terms faux and fine are often used to classify jewels. But with fresh ideas coming from contemporary stars like Giovanna Engelbert, who is making technicolor magic with Swarovski crystals, and Daniel Roseberry, who conjures up audacious surrealist brass for Schiaparelli, it’s time to rethink those antiquated words and challenge the notion of what’s real and fake. And whether it matters. Read More
The New Queen’s English
toi·et·moi / twa ay mwa / phrase As an engagement ring, this two-stone setting (French for “you and me”) represents the bride and groom. In the 18th century Napoleon started the trend when he gave one to Empress Josephine; 224 years later Megan Fox made it viral.
The Search Term of the Year
Love her, hate her, or hate to love her, no one can resist (secretly) Googling the gems in Gwyneth Paltrow’s signature tangle of gold necklaces. The intel: Foundrae’s clip chain choker in heavy rotation, often laden with the brand’s interchangeable charms. More sleuthing (you’re welcome) also revealed a strong preference for Cartier. Movie-star je ne sais quoi and Goop glow not included.
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Gwyneth Paltrow’s Florence selfie, with husband Brad Falchuk, offered important jewelry clues.
The Diamonds of the Year
Named for their resemblance to a river of gems, diamond rivières have long attracted an enthusiastic fan base. Queen Mary, for one, was rarely seen without her diamond “turtleneck,” layering chokers and pearls with her 100-carat rivière, which was later inherited by Princess Margaret. Today, donning a single strand is just as strong a statement, as Zoë Kravitz proved at this year’s Oscars, though we’d never discourage anyone from a modern Mary moment, à la Hailey Bieber at the Super Bowl.
The Watershed Moment
The opening of “Brilliant & Black: A Jewelry Renaissance” at Sotheby’s New York was a groundbreaking moment, not only for its format—curated by Melanie Grant, a London-based journalist, it was the first selling exhibit of its kind—but also for its recognition of 21 contemporary Black jewelry designers by a global auction house.
The New Hall-of-Famers
The revolutionary spirit of the Art Deco movement, which flourished after World War I, brought us Cartier’s Tutti Frutti marvels and Gérard Sandoz’s geometric holy grails. They defined a period of innovation, cultural curiosity, and radical imagination. A century later the same is true of these tours de force. From Wilfredo Rosado’s lacquered tribute to East Africa’s Maasai tribe to Ana Khouri’s mastery of new materials like rare rosewood and rock crystal, the year’s best jewels were an exuberant celebration of just how far we’ve come.
The Migration of the Year
1. Mish Fine Jewelry 244 S. County Road
After 30 years in NYC, Mish Tworkowski moved his atelier into an Addison Mizner landmark.
2. Sotheby’s 150 Royal Poinciana Plaza
The auction house has hosted pop-ups and exhibits for jewelers like Marina B and Taffin.
3. Hemmerle 340 Royal Poinciana Way
Scions of the German brand are now posted up in PB for private appointments.
4. Nicholas Varney 256 Worth Avenue
The former college baseball player-turned-jewelry designer has set up shop on Via Amore.
5. Marissa Collections 340 Royal Poinciana WayThe 47-year-old family-run Naples institution opened its second Florida outpost.
The Grand Reveal
If there was ever a reason to celebrate jewels in their pure form (dare we say, “uncut jahms”?), it was the reopening of the Museum of Natural History’s Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals. After a four-year renovation, the unveiling coincided with the museum’s 150th anniversary and was christened with an exhibition of more than 100 animal-themed bijoux made during those years. The festive mood remains, thanks to the permanent display of icons like the Star of India sapphire and the 632-carat Patricia Emerald alongside never-before-seen specimens like the Subway Garnet (a 9-pound stone found under 35th Street in 1885). If one gem brings joy, imagine what 5,000 of them can do.
The Right Vibe Shift
The 12 signs of the Zodiac have long been ripe for talismanic inspiration. After all, hard times are made a little easier when celestial guidance is spun into diamonds and gold. Van Cleef & Arpels once again looked to the planets, newly reinforcing its astrological creations with fresh designs and stones like lapis lazuli and amazonite for an extra dose of good vibes.
Its Time Has Come
Cartier’s Tank Must was introduced in 1977 as the most accessible of Tanks. For the 2021 revival, its style remains the same. As for its specs? Unmistakably modern.
Imperceptible slits in the Roman numerals allow light to reach photovoltaic cells hidden underneath. Translation? This watch is solar-powered.
With grace and sleight of hand, a 105-year-old classic is refined for the current moment. Hint: The strap now comes in vegan leather.
Tell Them What They Want
What they really really want. Eavesdropping on today’s private client conversations. By Max Berlinger
As the rest of the world went from shopping IRL to URL in the pandemic things worked a bit differently for this type of VIP. Read More
The Investment of the Year
They say when times are uncertain, you can’t go wrong with gold. Jewelers clearly have taken note. So has Anthony Vaccarello. For Saint Laurent’s spring 2022 show he paid homage to the prolific designer and influential YSL muse Paloma Picasso, arming his models with sharp silhouettes and bold, sculptural gold. Now who’s fretting over the S&P?
This story appears in the May 2022 issue of Town & Country. SUBSCRIBE NOW