November 26 2012
Lucia van der Post
For those looking for a gem or two this Christmas, and who are prepared to pay for them, there are always the grand and the great of Bond Street. But there’s also Harry Fane, who looks after a select band of interesting designers. Most well known for selling pieces by Fulco di Verdura (who made Mademoiselle Chanel’s famous Maltese cross cuffs), he has recently brought the work of Hong Kong’s Michelle Ong to the UK. Last year she had a glamorous exhibition at London’s Asia House of jewels she’d made for private clients, and she is rumoured to be the only jeweller that the great Joel Arthur Rosenthal (aka JAR) truly admires, and one can see why. She has the same technical brilliance; her intricate and fantastical fruits, butterflies, dragonflies, flowers and insects are all exquisitely wrought works of art. Harry Fane has a beautiful yellow- and black-diamond ring for £15,840, and some white-diamond and green-garnet earrings for £38,520 (second picture).
Another name to look out for at Fane’s by-appointment showroom is Catherine Noll, daughter of the sculptor Alexandre Noll, whose bold, vintage pieces in ebony, Perspex and crystal are extraordinarily chic. Now dead, she worked in Paris in the 1970s, when Catherine Deneuve was a fan. “It was the primitive and sophisticated form of her jewellery that seduced me,” the actress once said. A pair of wood and resin bracelets is £6,300, while a frosted rock-crystal bib necklace is £7,000.
In an entirely different vein is Didi Jewellery by Didi Colley, a gemologist who recently moved from Miami to London, bringing with her the Rough and Ready gem collection. It’s the roughness and the readiness that I love about it, as well as the more polished Didi’s Diamonds range. She uses black diamonds quite a lot, but also has some stupendous circular globe earrings of brown- and champagne-coloured melee diamonds for £1,350 (fourth picture). Diamond-encrusted white-sapphire earrings are £1,400, and a lovely green-beryl ring is £1,225.
Finally, this year’s haute joaillerie from Chanel commemorates Coco’s first collection in 1932, and is a fabulous homage to the designer. Prices start at £54,625 for a striking ring with a huge diamond at its centre (third picture), rising to the hundreds of thousands for some of the spectacular necklaces with arrays of diamonds, stars and comets (Soleil necklace, first picture, £462,188). For Chanel fans, it is worth knowing that there is a constant selection of more accessible pieces, most particularly the Geode line, which features stars in a bracelet (£7,300), earrings (£3,625) and necklace (£5,450).