Rumour has it that an average millennial is intimidated by diamonds. It is understandable. A gemstone meant for the kings and queens, their designated engagement ring stone, diamonds do, at times, carry the weight of its legend and tremendous fame. Its imposing history is unforgettable and the influence of its symbol is considerable.
However, a quick glance at the archives of Cartier on Rue de la Paix in Paris, proves that it can be reimagined into something less intimidating and more wearable on a daily basis. A fine example of this is the L’Allure en blanc collection by Cartier.
It consists of an oversized ring consisting of facet balls to be worn on the little finger, phalanx ring, flat bangle, panther hidden behind the ear, inverted hoop earrings, geometric headband alternating with a brilliant-cut and a baguette-cut diamond, jewellery for the hair which can also be worn as a bracelet.
Dedicated to diamonds, this collection attests to the versatility and the global characteristic of the gemstones.
To know more about this appealing collection, we had a conversation with Pierre Rainero, Director of Style, Image & Heritage at Cartier. Excerpts:
L’Allure en blanc is a tip of the hat to white jewellery, very much in fashion during the first half of the 20th century. What’s your take?
One must be careful not to make sweeping generalisations and erroneous impressions. We have a vision, in retrospect, of the guirlande style which is partially untrue. The pieces that had the important stones — the diadems, the grand necklaces, the fronts of bodices — have, for the most part, not been chosen. These pieces had coloured stones in them. When the grand Duchesse Maria Pavlovna Romanova had divided up her collection for her children, she split it up into four colours: red, green, white and blue. Without mentioning the face that the photographs, back then, were in black and white, which naturally were unable to render the effervescence of the colour schemes prevalent at the time.
Collective memory though only remembers diamonds because of the sudden rise of platinum, that was when the diamond was forced into the spotlight like never before. In the same vein, came white jewellery from Cartier in 1930s. It was a period that succeeded the explosion of colour which was characteristic of the 1920s and the 1910s. But, once again that outlook is a bit radical. The accumulation of bracelets and heavy necklaces of diamonds never stopped being out of fashion.
Why choose to “push” the diamond? In other words, why free this classic stone from its habitual conventions in terms of volume, design and presence?
Irrespective of the era and the time, Cartier has always innovated. Versatile, transformable jewellery has been a very integral part of the traditions of this House. One of the main merits of this collection is how it reminds us that a diamond is essential to our conception of jewellery. Sometimes, depending on the quality of the coloured stones, the diamonds carry a brilliance which is irreplaceable. And precisely what makes this collection stylistically a Cartier creation is the mixing of cuts and sizes of stones. Brilliant, baguette and princess cut diamonds, when placed at different levels, magnify the inherent brilliance of the stones. This collection, in particular, plays predominantly on that dimension, from figurative to geometrical pieces.
Historically, diamond was a stone of power, and then its definition shifted into the domain of the delicate and the stone of eternal love. I have the impression that with this collection, Cartier is giving the diamond a new incarnation. Is diamond now the stone of freedom?
The famous solitaire diamonds and the those of the engagement rings are undeniably an Anglo-Saxon invention. I would say that we are benefitting from a most welcome de-consecration of the diamond. Everything that facilitates access to jewellery and its knowledge is a good thing. It adds a simpler and more laidback and significantly more intimate aspect to jewellery. Without talking about the casual feel a certain piece of jewellery can give to an outfit, an outfit that would otherwise be considered strict. For example, men often add old brooches to add that touch of humour. This is precisely why this collection offers several pieces that are devoid of gender.
You are the director of heritage, one of the largest and the most famous jewellery house in the world. As a privileged observer, how do you look at jewellery and its trends?
I have worked for Cartier for over 30 years now and I am as much of an enthusiast as I was when I joined. In the 1980s the sensitivity and the knowledge of the artistic dimension of jewellery was more widespread than it had ever been. That gave one the opportunity to express oneself to the fullest. I think that we are living, right now, in a formidable era.
*This article has been contributed by Hervé Dewintre.