High jewellery – a long-term investment if ever there was one – is less subject to trends than fashion but it does seem that wheat, a historic symbol of prosperity and fertility in France, is the theme of choice for several spectacular collections this year.
Wheat was the title and sole theme of Chanel’s high jewellery collection, Les Blés de Chanel – fair enough as it was one of Mlle Coco’s favourite symbols – and the house even constructed a gold-tipped wheat field in the Place Vendôme to emphasise a sumptuous collection that follows the wheat ear, in gems and precious metal, through the year from pale spring green to rich harvest gold.
Boucheron’s 26 Vendôme collection, revealed during a one-off live performance show with four models in black adorned with the creations, includes wheat necklaces and rings in diamonds and gold that echo the house’s art-deco heyday.
At Chaumet the reference is more subtle: the collection, La Nature de Chaumet, uses motifs from nature, mostly floral, expressed in wonderful stones and settings. But tucked in there is something a little different. Chaumet is famous for tiaras, and in 1811 produced a wreath suggestive of wheat ears for the Empress Marie-Louise. It has inspired a small section of the current collection and shows off the jewellery craft of gold engraving and sculpting. Based on the antique ronde-bosse engraving technique, each grain is sculpted to perfection and finished with a naturalistic brushed effect, sprinkled with diamonds to imitate dew, as in the original tiara.
As high jewellery is strictly for the few, Chaumet has made the theme a little more accessible with 40 examples of its L’Epi de Blé de Chaumet ring (£15,480, pictured), which winds three ears of wheat elegantly across two fingers in a style that deftly mixes heritage with bold contemporaneity. Just two have made their way to the London boutique and are likely to disappear before you can snap two fingers.