Very long earrings have to encompass a certain fluidity in order to dangle freely, and I like the way they echo a woman’s movements,” says Chopard artistic director Caroline Scheufele, who always includes an extra-long pair in her Red Carpet collection, unveiled each year at Cannes. This year, however, they were particularly eagerly pounced on by stars and their stylists as the style statement du jour. For pendant or drop earrings are arguably the most seductively feminine of all jewels – and work well with both the current 1970s boho vibe and a more dressed-up, womanly look. This shift of attention back towards long and luscious, ultra-glamorous earrings was also seen at the Oscars, where they replaced last year’s statement necklaces; Cate Blanchett chose extra-long leaf-shaped earrings with marquise and round diamonds (price on request) from Tiffany & Co’s latest Blue Book collection The Art of Transformation.
As always with the comeback of a jewellery classic, there is a contemporary slant. And slant happens to be the operative word here, as the new long earrings often hang from angled or slanted tops – linear and slender, in waterfalls or strong, streamlined curves. What’s new is the way the earring often forms a continuous line from the earlobe to the chin, neck or shoulder, with no separate surmount at the lobe.
“Long earrings today should look seamless – attaching components via jump rings seems old-fashioned, as all the elements should work together and look complete,” says Lauren Adriana, a young designer-jeweller with a protean talent and a fearlessness when it comes to the size and scale of earrings. She gives the pendant earring her signature modernist makeover: cascades of old-cut diamonds and blue zircons (price on request) stream from the top of the ear down towards the collar bone so that “you can’t see where the rigid surmount ends and the fluid articulation begins. And they just brush the shoulder with each movement,” says Adriana. Tapered edges are, she explains, intended to look “shredded”, like torn fabric, so that the earrings frame the face and flirt with the neck.
Indeed, there’s a torrent of variations on the waterfall theme. Graff’s newest Snowfall earrings (price on request) are a curtain of square and round diamonds; another style (price on request) sees cascades of pear-shaped emeralds and diamonds with tops that slant upwards on the ear. At David Morris, designer Jeremy Morris brings extra fluidity and movement to three-strand diamond earrings (price on request) by threading pear, round and oval diamonds rimmed in micro-pavé-diamond halos onto fine knife-wire mounts, setting them at mismatching levels and cleverly shaping the tops of the earrings to curve around the face. And the delicate Arpeggia at De Beers sees sparkling diamond drops slide down sleek, crisp pavé-diamond lines, either as a long single strand paired with a stud (£18,300; very now, very chic) or as a matching pair of three or five strands (from £36,300).
There’s more long, fluid asymmetry from Brazilian designer Ara Vartanian, whose oversized, exuberant and often rare-coloured gemstone designs bring modernity to long drop earrings through architecture, geometry and the use of negative space to create volume and shape; the stones are set on knife-wires, upside down or draped so they tremble and shimmer with movement. And they have long attracted a strong fashion crowd, led by Kate Moss. His new take on his long, openwork gem-set “hook” earrings (price on request) mixes reverse-set diamonds with Ethiopian opals; one earring is long with opal beads and diamonds, the other is shorter – and only set with diamonds. The “hook” style launched in 2012 and fits securely just inside the ear so that it doesn’t drag the earlobe down, and stays in place, comfortably, for hours. “Comfort is crucial,” he says. “Working out the centre of gravity, and how the stones sit, is very important.”
Stephen Webster quips that he too has always gone to “great lengths” to design shoulder-skimming earrings – using titanium for super-lightness and volume, and chains for movement, texture and sensuality, to cater to “the night owl who has no more intention of taking off her earrings than her stilettos – through to the small hours”. His latest addition to the Lady Stardust Couture collection (£70,000), with its zig-zag art deco lines, sets 30ct of octagonal-cut tanzanites into a twist of diamonds spiralling down, again seamlessly, from the pavé-diamond earclip. More seamless modern takes can be found in Tiffany & Co’s The Art of Transformation, where design director Francesca Amfitheatrof has transformed the classic diamond drop earring through artful contemporary compositions of different diamond cuts (prices on request): one pair, fluid, elongated ovals slashed with gently curving lines, another a joyfully unruly tangle of shapes – both without demarcation between surmount and pendant.
For modernists, there’s another particularly interesting new look emerging: a sort of deconstruction of classic chandelier components. Glenn Spiro, who has specialised in dramatic, ultra-light earrings (including an elegant, low-key shaded black and grey diamond waterfall design, price on request), has stacked graduated step-cut amethysts – each one gripped by diamond curls to create a layered, ladder-like silhouette – finished and softened with three drop pearls (price on request). The overall effect has an eastern flavour. A similarly influenced aesthetic can be found at Boghossian, the Geneva-based sixth-generation jewellers with Armenian origins (which now boasts talented Hong Kong designer Edmond Chin as its creative director), which has come up with a pair of gossamer-light emerald and diamond earrings (price on request). A parallel process of deconstruction and stylisation has taken place in the design studios of Bulgari, where Serpenti earrings in the recently launched Magnificent Inspirations collection are composed of the sharply graphic hexagonal “scales” of the Eyes On Me Bulgari serpent in pink tourmalines outlined with diamonds or diamonds surrounded by sapphires (price on request).
There is much to delight those who prefer figural earrings with a fashionably dramatic approach to scale, though not all conform to the seamless motif. At Moussaieff, diamond and natural colour-changing sapphire petals in two strands of unequal lengths (price on request) tumble to the shoulder. “Our clients already have classic diamond earrings and are now looking for very rich colours and dramatic styles,” says owner and creative director Alisa Moussaieff. And in Cannes, De Grisogono paraded a stupendous pair of wide and long shell-shaped diamond and emerald earrings (price on request). Elsewhere, founder and creative director Fawaz Gruosi also launched an arrestingly attenuated pair of slender, smooth, shapely pale coral drops, wittily piled one on top of the other and accented with pavé emeralds on one and rubies on the other (£43,800). At Cannes too, Chaumet dressed actress Adriana Ugarte in ultra-long Hortensia earrings (price on request) with stylised blossoms of diamonds and white chalcedony, dotted with sapphires.
Meanwhile, in St Tropez in June, at the unveiling of Louis Vuitton’s high-jewellery collection Blossom, the most talked-about highlight was a pair of long earrings (price on request) with the LV monogram flower translated into carved opal, the layered blossoms rimmed in diamonds and cascading down towards a pear-shaped spinel of extraordinarily luscious strawberry red, bringing out flashes of deep pink in the opal. And in Chanel’s high-jewellery collection Les Blés de Chanel, Mademoiselle’s favourite talismanic wheat motif plays a central role: the Cascade d’Epi ear pendants (price on request) have the little stalks curling up the ear, dropping into wheat ears laden with golden-yellow diamond briolettes. Even Hemmerle, famous for its rigorously reduced graphic style, lengthens earrings into trailing clusters of emerald and burnished copper leaves (price on request). For something even more daringly theatrical, crossing boundaries of fine and fashion jewellery, look at Bernard Delettrez’s draped Cobweb ear pendants (£11,280) in gold, set with 710 grey diamonds – which are so long that they brush the shoulders with their gossamer-light threads.
Some new shoulder-dusters are not only for eveningwear; they’re for night and day, challenging the jewel rules by making chandelier earrings young and casual. For Julia Muggenburg, designer behind Belmacz and always one to challenge clichés, the new day-to-night earring is about restoring some grace and elegance to the everyday. “It’s also part of a resurgence of interest in kinetic art,” she adds. For movement and powerful graphic simplicity, she loves to contrast fine gold chain with lustrous Tahitian pink-grey pearls and rose quartz (as on her Duccio earrings, £6,800) and with golden pearls and rosewood (as on the Saturn earrings, £4,700), where the pearls form golden planets. Both designs are ultra-long; severe yet slinkily sensual.
This month Buccellati adds a new night and day gold and diamond version (£10,000) to its Hawaii collection (originally designed by Mario Buccellati in the 1930s, inspired by the Hawaiian flower garland), with the bouncing gold circles handmade from twisted gold wire that intensifies light and movement (all-gold earrings from the collection, £2,500). And in Paris, Marie-Hélène de Taillac, always the earring queen, offers light-hearted contemporary chandeliers for every day: the Dancing Emilie (about £4,840), a rainbow of coloured gems, and the lace-like Heart Mosaic (£3,600), a joyful jostling of open gold hearts. De Taillac loves the idea of the multisensory earring that sways, swings and sometimes evens rings, announcing your presence and perhaps tolling the bell for a new mood of sensual, modern maximalism.