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Boucheron experiments with materials used by NASA in its new Contemplation high jewellery collection

Sarah Royce-Greensill
·3-min read
Murmuration earring and brooch from Boucheron's Contemplation high jewellery collection
Murmuration earring and brooch from Boucheron's Contemplation high jewellery collection

Claire Choisne, Boucheron’s creative director, never makes things easy for herself. In her quest to reinvent the codes of high jewellery she seeks out materials and processes more often seen in engineering, industrial manufacturing or even aeronautics, as is the case with Contemplation, the latest collection.

Its name refers to the simple, fleeting moments of nature that are captured in precious materials. Graduating-sized diamonds float laterally around the earlobes like clouds; a murmuration of birds appears inside a rock crystal torque; a dandelion head, moments before the seeds fly away on a breeze, appears on an open necklace, the tiny diamond seeds set on titanium threads no wider than a hair, so that they bob and spring back into place.

The Fenêtre sur Ciel (Window onto the Sky) necklace in titanium with mother-of-pearl, diamond and a 35ct cabochon tanzanite 
The Fenêtre sur Ciel (Window onto the Sky) necklace in titanium with mother-of-pearl, diamond and a 35ct cabochon tanzanite

It’s a surprisingly apt collection for now, with the world slowing down and people seeking solace in nature. A sky dotted with fluffy clouds is airbrushed in lacquer onto a necklace formed of supple mother-of-pearl tiles, set with a 35ct cabochon tanzanite - a juxtaposition Choisne says was inspired by a James Turrell artwork she encountered on a trip to Naoshima, Japan. 

Clouds also inspired one of the most technically advanced pieces, the Weightless Cloud necklace, which began as a cotton-wool model, whose silhouette was 3D scanned and recreated in almost 10,000 dark blue titanium threads, dotted with 4,018 diamonds and tiny glass balls, creating a scintillating cloud of diamonds that levitate around the neck.

Bleu Infini earrings set with 121.84ct pear-cut aquamarines and paved with diamonds
Bleu Infini earrings set with 121.84ct pear-cut aquamarines and paved with diamonds

Other pieces are more enigmatic: the Bleu Infini suite sees over 120 carats of elongated pear-cut aquamarines hanging from devastatingly elegant earrings to represent a raindrop on the verge of falling.

But despite the natural inspiration, Choisne is not afraid to look to avant-garde materials. The Goutte de Ciel - Skydrop - suite was designed to emulate the pure yet intangible blue of the sky. For this, she looked to Aerogel, a synthetic material more often used  to catch space dust particles aboard NASA spacecraft.

Goutte de Ciel necklace in white gold with rock crystal and diamonds, set with a drop of rock crystal and aerogel
Goutte de Ciel necklace in white gold with rock crystal and diamonds, set with a drop of rock crystal and aerogel

The lowest density material on earth, it’s 99.8% air, practically weightless, and mimics the properties of the sky: it scatters light in a way that appears blue to the eye, yet its colour is fleeting, translucent, almost ethereal. 

The material has never before been used in high jewellery. Working with an Aerogel specialist in Greece who found a way to craft it into its unusual drop shape (usually it comes in blocks), Choisne has preserved it behind rock crystal in a suite of jewellery that in itself will provoke hours of happy contemplation.

More 2020 high jewellery

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