Women's Jewellery

A bright spark in the office

More women are investing in diamonds for daytime – and, says Vivienne Becker, they’re increasingly adventurous in the styles they choose for the office.

June 17 2010
Vivienne Becker

As motivational self-rewards go, the diamond has to be pretty high on our list; a trophy for all time that working women have taken into – and onto – their own hands. With its innate style and status, intrinsic value and investment potential, the diamond adds polish, poise and instant light-filled glamour. And it just happens to go with everything: every colour, texture and season. No wonder more and more women are buying diamonds for themselves, to celebrate achievements or simply as an indulgence. And one of the biggest by-products of this shift over the past decade has been the move towards diamonds for daytime – for all-day, everyday wear.

It wasn’t so long ago that diamonds mostly came out after dark, and then rarely on younger women. But now the rules have been dissolved and diamonds have emerged gleaming into the daylight. They’ve become an accepted, even expected, part of a successful woman’s persona, put on, like armour or amulets, first thing in the morning and only taken off at bedtime.

And sometimes not even then, says designer jeweller Shaun Leane. “My customers, almost all working women, refuse to take them off,” he says of his edgy designs that have helped to break the jewel rules such as his stud earrings. “Today’s high-performing businesswoman is strong, but she still wants to show an element of femininity. The diamond exudes both power and femininity. With her fast-paced life, she also wants to wear her diamonds and enjoy them, not keep them locked up.”

His bigger statement jewels, such as the silver and enamel Cherry Blossom collection (from £180 to £1,180), are fresh and accessible, opening up diamonds to the younger customer and introducing a more fashion-forward flavour. Likewise, Stephen Webster has had huge success with his silver, diamond-set jewellery (from £325), the silver suggesting a sense of fun. “Diamonds spark an emotion in women,” he says. “The diamond is always the finishing touch, it makes people feel they’ve made an effort.”

Mark Walker, creative director of online diamond jewellery boutique Icecool and sister website Icecool Diamonds, which is devoted to exceptional stones and bespoke jewellery, agrees that diamonds for daywear represent a “massive change” in the jewellery market. “Forty years ago, women wore costume jewellery in the day and diamonds in the evening,” he says. Then diamonds became an accent to jeans or an Armani suit, and women felt comfortable wearing diamond studs, a simple bracelet and a solitaire pendant to the office.

But Walker now sees a new phase of more creative designs for daywear: “The biggest development is the trend towards daytime glamour; bigger rings, hoops and earrings, not too showy but with a touch of glitz. It is no longer about being minimal, it’s to do with expressing yourself.” One of Walker’s clients, a lawyer, recently asked him to reconfigure a very dressy pair of long earrings that she rarely wore. She wanted, she said, to feel proud in the daytime, and so the diamonds were remodelled into a contemporary floating cluster ring, now worn every day to the office.

It is true that the capsule working diamond wardrobe has mostly revolved around stud earrings, a discreet necklace, and a tennis (line) bracelet or simple bangle, such as Francis Mertens’ covetable and comfortable lightweight titanium streak of tiny pavé diamonds (£3,200; available from Astley Clarke from September). These favourite forms are finding subtle variations at some of the world’s leading diamond specialists. Leviev delivers a classic everyday look through ear-studs of different cuts – ovals from £15,000 and emerald cuts from £12,000 – and simple bracelets and bangles (from £20,000). Both tend to be upgraded to bigger and better stones as the client gains confidence and wealth.

Graff, on the other hand, finds that clients now look for a stronger design aesthetic, as seen in the Diamond on Diamond collection (from £10,000) – a relaxed, dynamic design of diamond swirls on diamond pavé backgrounds, emphasising movement and layering. At Sotheby’s Diamonds, James de Givenchy, one of the world’s leading artist-jewellers, downplays glamour and balances superlative quality diamonds with unexpected settings of steel, in sculpted, organic drop earrings ($260,000), or bands of rubber.

Meanwhile, the daytime phenomenon led Jeremy Morris of David Morris to focus on antique-inspired rose-cut diamonds with their soft, discreet glimmer. A single rose cut is scallop-edged in fine, micro-pavé brilliant diamonds and shaped into small hoop earrings (from £21,000). And his main collection of studs, rings and bracelets (all from £8,000) is now boosted with rose-gold versions with pink diamonds (from £20,000).

At De Beers, where classic daytime elegance is at the core of its identity, the refined, ultra-slim, micro-pavé Match Band ring, in three colours of gold and diamonds (from £1,325), has also proved a huge success. Creative director Raphaele Canot feels that the daytime diamond jewel is much more than a trend and is exerting a sweeping influence on the entire jewellery world.

“The little black box of diamond jewellery is an essential daily accessory,” he says. “Women can be more open and easy about wearing diamonds from day into evening, and they are easy to mix and match with all colours, other jewellery, even with fashion jewellery.” The Halo collection (from £2,800) frames a single stone with micro-pavé diamonds, offering a more designed alternative to classic earrings, rings and pendants. Its bestselling Talisman collection is being relaunched this September, featuring rough diamonds (from £450) in all their rugged individuality and understated preciousness. It’s the perfect expression of a creative personality, underlined with the age-old mysticism of the diamond.

The element of self-reward and celebration provides a strong undercurrent to the theme of daytime diamonds. Lionel Giraud, creative director of Chaumet, says, “When translating material successes into something tangible, there is no better emblem than a diamond; whether earrings, watch or ring.” Chaumet’s Liens ring, with its little diamond cross-stitch (from £2,700), is the perfect daytime jewel – sleek, discreet yet with a flourish of femininity and fun in its graphic signature style. The new sensually chunky maxi version (from £3,850) comes in yellow, white or rose gold, while the mini version is a slim band centred with a diamond cross (from £1,450).

One of British jeweller Boodles’ bestsellers is an iconic daytime jewel. Raindance is simple but ingenious: a sliver of white gold encircling a diamond raindrop, adapted to rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings (from £2,100). And the jewellery by French-born designer Arabelle Morgan has a discreet, easy elegance that works from morning to night – see her Glow bracelet (£5,165), with its softly feminine yet tailored motif on a fine double chain.

Tiffany is the quintessential destination store for special-occasion jewels and its Celebration rings address the growing audience of women wanting to mark their own achievements, triumphs and milestones through the eternity of diamonds. Bands of classic round Tiffany diamonds set in platinum (from £1,300) are designed as winding or woven ribbons; some narrow, others wider. They are intended for stacking – a big concept for some time now – offering an opportunity for personalisation.

The same possibilities for making a jewel your own are found in Georg Jensen’s Fusion ring, designed by Nina Koppel, with its playful, interactive jigsaw-puzzle concept. This year, celebrating the 10th anniversary of its launch, Georg Jensen presents a new all-pavé-diamond Fusion ring (£9,300). The original diamond-dotted Fusion (£3,075) was made in response to demand for less formal diamonds, and they have since become an essential element of Jensen’s style. CEO and president Ulrik Garde Due says, “We see a liberation in the use of diamonds in more creative ways. What is important is that the diamond has to be an integral part of the design from the very beginning of a concept.”

Cox & Power, whose sharp style fits seamlessly into the workplace, acknowledges the importance of both self-reward and emotional attachment when women buy diamonds. Clients with bonuses come to treat themselves, while one writer buys a jewel whenever she finishes a book. But, says creative director and master goldsmith Anthony Power, they also have to fall in love with a piece. He has noticed a shift towards more idiosyncratic designs.

“Businesswomen today are able to be themselves, rather than conforming to or reflecting male values,” he says. “They are looking for something softer with a bit of femininity so their personality can shine through.” Its unique platinum or gold Shard earrings are hung with a lightly faceted organic diamond slice (to order, price on request). Power finds the soft shades of brown and yellow diamonds work well for day; he sets natural yellow stones into gold spiralled discs (£4,600) and clusters multicoloured diamond beads into a deceptively low-key single-strand necklace (£5,050).

The muted tones of brown, grey and black diamonds find favour with Carnet designer Michelle Ong. She finds them less ostentatious, so that jewels can be bigger, more stylish, with a stronger design element, yet still discreet. Her clients include self-made businesswomen in both Asia and New York. “Women in high places all over the world have a similar outlook,” she says. “Now we see younger executives, in their 30s and early 40s, who are very confident, so that their femininity and the jewels that express it do not undermine their authority – rather the reverse.” While the ring (from £10,000) is always the cornerstone of a business outfit, brooches (from £8,500 are proving popular, and last year Ong introduced cuff links (from £6,500), which were snapped up by women.

Finally, Michel Ermelin, designer and president of Verney, the luxurious but discreet Paris jeweller, has taken daytime diamonds to a new level, designing what he calls “a necklace for jogging”. Running in the lunch hour while wearing Easy River ($87,500), a fluid stream of rough-cut diamonds of muted tones, hung with a luscious drop-shaped pendant of 3.5ct, may be a step too far for many but, ladies, it’s because we’re worth it.

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