A glimpse into snowy wonderlands through high jewellery
More than a century ago, French jewellery house Boucheron opened its first store outside France. The family-run company chose Moscow before transferring to St Petersburg a few decades later. Since then, a Russian aesthetic has manifested itself in many of the brand’s creations — sometimes subtly, at other times explicitly. Boucheron’s new high jewellery collection, Hiver Impérial, exemplifies the latter.
To behold the pieces comprising the Hiver Impérial collection is to imagine St Petersburg on a cold winter’s night. Some designs evoke falling snow, while others bring to mind jagged ice. One mimics onion-domed buildings, and another takes inspiration from imperial ball gown accessories. Rock crystal is used in abundance, along with pearls, sapphires, diamonds, and wood. The jewellery pieces are designed according to three themes: Lumière de Nuit for nature, Femmes Boréales for fashion, and L’Anneau d’Or for architecture.
One of the most intriguing pieces in the collection comes from the Femmes Boréales theme — the Baïkal bodice-style necklace, adorned with around 2,000 pearls. Pearl strands are strung on silk thread, and connected with the use of aquamarines, moon pearls, and diamond slivers. A 78.33ct oval Santa Maria aquamarine rests at the centre of the bodice front, flanked by pearls and pear-shaped diamonds set on moonstones. The stone is meant to represent the icy waters of Lake Baikal, a rift lake in southeast Siberia that has existed for 25 million years.
An ode to an ancient fascination is the Flocon Impérial necklace, which seeks to exhibit intricate snowflake patterns that the naked eye cannot see. Such extensive geometrical detail is difficult to achieve, but Boucheron has long studied the subject, having been creating jewellery in the form of snowflakes since 1898. In the nature-themed Flocon Impérial, diamonds are set on white gold and seen beneath a layer of clear rock crystal, creating the impression of buoyancy — like ice floes. The multi-wear necklace comes with seven detachable parts: a 5.20ct diamond ring, a pair of earrings, a fibula, and hair accessories.
Another multi-wear piece is the Rostov necklace from the L’Anneau d’Or theme. In Rostov, a pattern of cupolas is rendered in the style of the geometric medallions created by Boucheron in the early 1900s. The oversized medallion is inlaid with diamonds and silvery wood, with cut-outs representing tile patterns on cupolas. The peak of the dome is a round 4.14ct diamond. Rostov can be worn as a long necklace, double strand, or choker, while the medallion can be detached and worn as a brooch.
Not one to shy away from experimenting with materials, Boucheron uses different stones and metals to depict the various wintry hues found throughout the collection. Blue is seen in sapphires, chalcedonies, aventurine glass, aquamarines, and tanzanites. Grey is rendered in aspen wood, frosted quartz, and mother of pearl; titanium is used to lend depth to the icy crags portrayed in the Boule ring. In many designs, cultured pearls evoke gently falling snow.
Not all is frosty white, silver, and blue, though — a few items with the Lumière de Nuit and L’Anneau d’Or themes use black sapphires, onyx, black spinels, and black lacquer, providing a sharp contrast. One piece, shaped like a branch, comes with ebony wood.
On the other hand, under the fashion theme, the Émeraude Impériale ring provides a surprising burst of vibrant green with a 10.54ct Zambian antique cushion emerald.
Even those who don’t particularly enjoy the winter wilderness will find charm in the Animaux des Nieges rings, which depict various winter animals.
The Hiver Impérial collection is a glimpse into different winter wonderlands in the Far North and East. An ode to urban architecture or a glimpse of isolated wilderness, a hint of traditional dresses or an edgy aesthetic, the jaggedness of ice or the playfulness of snow creatures — there’s something for every fine woman’s taste.