Piaget is letting loose for its latest collection of watches and jewelry, inspired by cocktails. We may be in the middle of autumn, but the Swiss company had summer in mind for the new Solstice collection. Colorful libations inspire rich pops of color throughout, but take on a more literal interpretation in pieces like a lime-accented watch face or a ring with a gem-encrusted fruit that jumps to the side.
At the heart of the line, which is – naturally – mostly cocktail rings, is a colorful assortment of cheery gemstones, arranged to look like the negronis, Manhattans, gin fizz and mimosas we all love. Piaget blends a sparkling mix of peridot, citrine, tourmaline and indicolite, mixes a few diamonds and shakes them together in a whimsical design worthy of a happy hour.
“The objective is to develop the highest expression of Piaget audacity and know-how by creating pieces that express the joyful side of the brand”, explains Christophe Bourrie, Piaget High Jewelery Global Director. “Semi-precious stones are the best way to express this and recreate the vibrant colors in specialty cocktails. Each piece is a kind of fantasy, rather than a formal, classic piece of jewelry with sapphire, rubies, or emeralds. They are funny.
Fun, maybe, but not easy to create. As more brands compete to serve a growing clientele of affluent customers who expect the best of the best, the competition to acquire the world’s best gemstones intensifies, according to Bourrie. “The nightmare is finding stones,” he says. “There is enormous pressure in the market, not only from the big houses, like Cartier, Bulgari and Graff, which are getting bigger and bigger, but also from the fashion houses which are getting more and more into the fine jewelry, like Louis Vuitton, Dior, Chanel, and Gucci. We all compete to buy the best gemstones, and those can’t be made. They’re gifts from the earth,” Bourrie says. “We have a team of seven in-house gemologists researching the very best gemstones, three of which are dedicated solely to center stones.We have focused on the highest quality for the simple reason that we want to position ourselves in the fine jewelry range of the highest quality.This is how we will be different from others,because we will never be bigger.
For the Solstice collection, the gems had to best represent the colorful ingredients of the cocktails represented by the designs: grenadine (pink sapphires), mint leaves (emeralds), sprinkled sugar (diamonds), ice cubes (rough diamonds), bourbon (brown diamonds ) and linden slices (hand-carved peridot).
The showcase watch of the collection is a cocktail on the wrist. The dial features lime slices and mint leaves floating in a white liquid punctuated with diamond ice cubes. It is a collaboration between Anita Porchet, the greatest Swiss lady of enamelling, and the Dutch master engraver Dick Steenman. On a sculpted mother-of-pearl background, Steenman has etched outlines of lime slices and mint leaves. Anita Porchet then applied a palette of translucent glazes to bring the limes and mint leaves to life. Porchet’s work is featured on another dial, on the Festive Sharing watch, depicting an airy pastiche of lemons, limes, flowers and leaves, using champlevé enamel, paillonné enamel and miniature paint. A third watch, the Gleaming Savour, features the work of French marquetry artist Rose Saneuil in a composition resembling a starry night – cocktail hour – using 177 pieces of straw, sycamore wood and elytron (wings beetle) cut individually. The bezel is set with baguette diamonds, set upside down for a diffused light effect.
Piaget launches once a year a unique collection of 50 to 100 pieces under the umbrella of the Creative collection. Each can take five years, depending largely on gemstone supply, so several are being developed at the same time. “It takes even longer these days,” explains Bourrie, “because there’s also a sustainability compliance checklist to follow.”
Piaget was founded in 1874, first as a manufacturer of watch movements, then as a producer of its own watches, mainly dress watches and fine jewelry pieces. “Piaget’s expertise in jewelry watches led to special orders from customers for simple jewelry pieces without the watch, so around the 1960s the house began making jewelry-only pieces on demand,” explains Bourrie. “At first it was just an extra activity, then we started, maybe 20 years ago, to make real collections.”
The annual Creative Collection is usually presented at special fairs and private events. In the 1970s, when Yves Piaget infused his design mark on the company (he created the flagship Polo watch collection) and brought his social contacts to the brand, Piaget gained a large following among celebrities, a public which was called the Piaget Society. . Today, in the age of emerging groups of collectors, Piaget is bringing the concept back to life with its loyal clientele. “Our company Piaget is a creative movement,” says Bourrie. “It was social before social media, a happy group of jewelry and watch lovers, people in front of or behind the camera, cultural leaders, pioneers and modern beauties. When they meet, it’s like finding a home for people with common interests, who live boldly yet sophisticatedly, and who dare to be rare.Its collective energy has a unique power.