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Vania Leles, born in Guinea-Bissau, west Africa, has created a six-piece high jewellery collection using responsibly sourced Zambian emeralds and diamonds from Gemfields, the ethical mining company. A former catwalk model for Saint Laurent, Leles studied at the Gemological Institute of America before working for jewellers Graff and De Beers. She opened an atelier on London’s New Bond Street last year.
The collection pays tribute to Dido Elizabeth Belle — who was born into slavery in the West Indies in 1761 but freed by her aristocratic father and raised in London by his family — and to Sarah Forbes Bonetta, who was presented as a “gift” by west African royalty to Queen Victoria in 1850 and later raised as the queen’s goddaughter.
Brazil to Bruton
This month Brazilian jeweller Ara Vartanian will open his first flagship boutique outside Brazil, on London’s Bruton Place. The building was once part of advertising pioneer Lord Saatchi’s home and will be given a new brass façade. Inside, there will be a sculptural amethyst-legged table created in collaboration with Brazilian furniture designer Hugo França as well as a béton brut (raw concrete) wall.
The shop will showcase the São Paulo-based designer’s latest double-finger rings made from Paraiba tourmaline and rubellite, open gold chokers and reptilian whip earrings in black or brown diamonds and blue sapphire.
Clicks and mortar
The online-first jewellery boutique Plukka has opened its second bricks-and-mortar space — in London’s Burlington Arcade, joining its Hong Kong flagship. The company’s etail site offers more than 3,000 bespoke pieces by more than 60 designers. Each piece is made to order or taken from the designer’s stock.
The boutique will showcase a selection of 10 – 12 jewellers at a time, and will exclusively launch a new fine jewellery designer every month. This month is Mattioli, run by Licia Mattioli, who trained as a lawyer, then opened a contemporary art gallery in Turin to support young artists before turning her hand to jewellery.
Shine on show
The annual Graff Diamonds rare jewels exhibition will be held from July 23 to August 7 at the Hôtel de Paris on Place du Casino in Monte Carlo. All the pieces on display are creations recently finished at the jeweller’s London workshop, such as a beaded emerald necklace with a floral diamond clasp that allows the piece to be transformed into a brooch; a 50-carat D flawless heart-shaped diamond ring; and a yellow and white diamond necklace with an internally flawless pear-shape drop.
Up in the air
Having launched its first three women’s pendants last November, this month Alice Made This will offer its first complete collection for women. The predominantly men’s accessories brand was founded in 2011 by former Tom Dixon designer Alice Walsh and is stocked by department stores including Liberty, Harvey Nichols and Bloomingdale’s.
Alice Made This works with a family-run factory in Hertford in the UK that manufactures parts for the aerospace and engineering industries to create precision mill-turned jewellery, with each piece sculpted from solid brass, steel or copper.
The first in a series of new Cartier boutiques has opened across four floors in Cheongdam, Seoul, where a celebratory exhibition will run until the end of the month. Its exhibits contain diamond tiaras, including a millegrain-set example that belonged to Elisabeth, Queen of Belgium, and a trio of British brooches: a flamingo made of diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, rubies and a citrine that was sold to the Duke of Windsor; a clip monogrammed “WE” made for the Duke and Duchess of Windsor; and the diamond rose worn by Princess Margaret to Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. The Seoul boutique will be followed by a new space in Tokyo, the reopening of Cartier’s Fifth Avenue mansion in New York and another shop in London next year.
Bulgari will combine its two jewellery production plants later this year into an environmentally friendly 14,000 sq m site in the Piedmontese municipality of Valenza, northern Italy. While Bulgari’s high jewellery creators will remain in its Rome workshops, the new facility will increase the brand’s production capacity and is expected to recruit more than 300 employees. “The Bulgari Group will have at its disposal the biggest jewellery manufacture in Europe,” says chief executive Jean-Christophe Babin. The site will house a college to provide students and new employees with specialist training. It will also be home to a restored 19th-century goldsmith’s workshop. The site’s green credentials, including efficient water management and the use of renewable energy, are aimed at securing the internationally recognised Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certificate.
Great Peter Street
Dior will open a new four-floor boutique on New Bond Street at the beginning of this month — its largest shop in the UK. Peter Marino, who also designed the renovated Bulgari jewellery boutique that opened a few doors down in April, has this time mixed Louis XVI furniture and silk townhouse carpets with contemporary metal sculpture.
Clothing, homewares and accessories will be sold alongside watches and jewellery. A commemorative series of limited editions inspired by the Union Jack will include new versions of the Cygne collection in diamond, ruby, sapphire and purple spinel, and a mother of pearl Dior VIII Grand Bal Plissé Soleil ladies’ watch with blue or red alligator straps.