A blooming flower symbolises the coming of spring. But in actual fact, flowers bloom in each and every season. That said, Carol Woolton, the editor of British Vogue, has curated a volume of the finest floral jewellery ever made titled Floral Jewels.
Divided into four sections, each comprising a season and the flowers that bloom in them, the book explores the history of flowers, paired with sketches and paintings to show their transformation into timeless jewellery pieces. From designers like Anna Hu and Fulco Verdura to fine jewellery houses like Van Cleef & Arpels and Cartier, Floral Jewels illustrates how flora was not just appreciated for its appearance, but for what it represented.
The poppy is known as the source of hallucinatory effects, and many fine jewellers have designed an immortalised version that provides both the wearer and viewer with the same pleasure – without the dire consequences. In 2008, Van Cleef & Arpels took to the poppy flower’s beauty, designing numerous jewellery pieces after the colourful plant. The Garance clip features a grey pearl set in the ovary section, protected by a ring of sapphire gems. Ruby beads adorn the poppy’s soft petals which are lined with white diamond antlers.
In the 19th century, roses became a popular subject for jewellery design as their long stalks allowed intertwining designs to take off, and was subsequently seen on pieces like tiaras and necklaces. Today, it represents many emotions, one of which is eternal love. Cartier designed a diamond Rose brooch, which Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon wore to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey in 1953. The three-dimensional brooch sees a pavé-set rose in full bloom, finished with a stem and openwork leaves. The piece is detailed with a myriad of baguette- and brilliant-cut diamonds.
The lotus flower symbolises the purity of mind and, in some religions, spiritual growth. In 2010, Taiwan-born musician turned jewellery designer Anna Hu designed a vibrant Celestial Lotus necklace. A blooming purple-pink lotus sits below a smaller sprouting bud. The flower is adorned with yellow, grey and white diamonds, Burmese rubies, tsavorites and pink sapphires. The necklace uses demantoid garnets and Colombian emeralds to form the lotus leaf and stems. The piece is set in titanium.
With up to 26,000 known species, orchids are one of the most diverse flowering plants. A popular flower with René Lalique and Tiffany & Co., orchids have a reputation for being dark and mysterious. Cartier took the resilient flower, and recreated their own hybrid versions. The brooch from the Caresse d’orchidées collection features a single rubellite nestled on a bed of sculpted diamond-encrusted petals. Yellow sapphire pollen seeds are dusted across the petals, with orange and green garnets providing the additional sparkle. Rubellites adorn the tips of the petals as a sign of autumn’s approach.
With its immense size, the sunflower’s bright, plate-sized disposition isn’t a florist’s top pick, nor is it for the ladies who are used to delicate and petite blooms. However, its simplicity made them an ideal subject for artist Vincent van Gogh, who first painted them when he saw them on the slopes of Montmartre. Buccellati’s sunflower brooch captures the flower’s brilliance with a 64.18-carat tourmaline that sits in place of its seeds. A total of 353 brilliant- and rose-cut diamonds adorn the petals and leaves, which is set in both white and yellow gold.
Born from over two centuries of crossbreeding, the pansy is associated with humility and loving thoughts. French jeweller Frédéric Boucheron was well aware of it, and used to send his wife a bouquet of pansies along with a handwritten note saying ‘Je pense à toi’ (“I’m thinking of you”) before he went on trips abroad. The Fleur Du Jour necklace reinterprets Boucheron’s love for his wife, featuring pansies dangling at the end of the necklace. The first is covered in snow-set diamonds and gold bead pistils, and the other, in pink tourmalines and rock crystals. Hiding beneath the flowers lies a grey mother-of-pearl pansy, which can be detached and worn as a cocktail brooch.
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Images courtesy of Prestel Publishing