December 30, 2010 9:59 pm

Diamonds on the trot

Hermès and Ralph Lauren have launched fine jewellery collections that draw on their equestrian roots
 
The Centaure necklace from Herm�?s

The Centaure necklace from Hermès

Hermès

Collection Designed by Pierre Hardy, the 14-piece Haute Bijouterie collection, two years in the making, focuses less on precious stones and more on bold shapes that evoke the house’s equestrian lineage. from horse hooves to whips. According to Laurence Reulet, jewellery department director at Hermès, work has already begun on the next collection of pieces.

Price points From €20,000 for the Centaure horse’s hoof ring in black jade, pink gold and white diamonds, to €700,000 for the Fouet necklace, inspired by the horse rider’s whip, and consisting of hand-assembled platinum pieces set with 3,669 “flawless” “D” colour diamonds.

Point of purchase The new collection is on display for the holiday season in the windows of the Faubourg Saint-Honoré flagship store in Paris – the “heart of the Hermès House”.

Packaging Made-to-measure black crocodile leather boxes.

Exclusivity There is only one Haute Bijouterie collection but the 14 pieces can travel to Hermès stores worldwide upon request; they have already been to Hong Kong and, in the coming year, will travel to China, Japan, England, Dubai and the US.

Bid for eternity The Fouet necklace took the jewellery department two years to create – from Hardy’s first drawings until the final refinement of the bespoke crocodile box. The 3,669 diamonds were assembled by hand and, so that they fit perfectly, some have been cut directly on the piece.

Credentials The origins of Hermès jewels are closely associated with those of saddle-making. In 1837, Hermès began crafting metal with leather. The first Hermès jewel was the Filet de Selle bracelet in leather and silver (1927). This was followed by the Chaine d’Ancre bracelet in 1938 and, in 1946, the Boucle Sellier bracelet, inspired by the strap and buckle of a saddle. Pierre Hardy was named artistic director of jewellery in 2002.

Expert opinion According to Ilaria Alber-Glanstaetten of the luxury branding and design consultancy Provenance, “They have hired a ‘name’, Pierre Hardy, who is not by trade a jewellery designer. It’s an interesting choice – this will differentiate them from the traditional players. They are staying faithful to Hermès design icons (horses etc) and using interesting and rare metal and stone combinations. The execution is flawlessly Hermès, not particularly risky (pieces made to order), so it will probably do well.”

Ralph Lauren

Collection 130 pieces, including necklaces, bracelets, rings and brooches. The collection is comprised of six motifs (encapsulating diamonds, rose gold, pearls and gem stones), including Monogram, Diamond Link, Chunky Chains, New Romantic, Signature Diamonds and Equestrian.

Price points From $1,400 for a Signature Diamonds square band ring in rose gold, to $40,000, with a few very high-end pieces such as a 40-carat diamond link necklace in white gold and diamond pavé (total: 2,900 stones) for $159,000.

Point of purchase The collection is displayed in a custom-designed, 600 sq ft salon within the store showcasing watches and jewellery and staffed by specialists.

Packaging Bespoke boxes featuring black embossed (faux) crocodile leather on the exterior and black ultra-suede lining. Each piece comes with a certificate of authenticity; a few pieces come with a special certificate signed by Ralph Lauren.

Exclusivity The collection debuted with the October opening of the new 888 Madison Avenue women’s flagship store, and is available only at the Beaux Artsstyle mansion.

Bid for eternity The Diamond Link necklace requires 200 hours’ production over five weeks. The Monogram necklace – the clasp set in 18-carat rose gold with diamonds – has five different diameters of Akoya pearls (235, sized 7.5 to 9 mm) for each of the five rows.

Credentials Richemont, which owns Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, joined forces with Ralph Lauren in 2008 to provide the know-how.

Expert opinion Ilaria Alber-Glanstaetten comments: “They are going up against Cartier, Bulgari, Tiffany, and though they are selling exclusively in New York, I would bet that they are eyeing new markets. I think the more recognisable motifs will do well, though the solitaire collection may be more difficult, as diamonds require a certain expertise that I am not sure belongs to a fashion brand.”

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