Design inspiration can be found anywhere and everywhere — in nature, in fashion, in history. For these five jeweled creations, historic and exemplary interiors (and the infamous events that took place inside) provide the fodder for their own extraordinary designs.
An Opulent Palace and Its Mighty Ruler
Gemologist Lydia Courteille has always been intrigued by powerful women and the role they played in history. Catherine the Great, the Empress of Russia who ousted her husband from rule, was the longest-reigning female of the world's then-largest and wealthiest empire. She was also a lover of great jewels with a fondness for carved and engraved gems and even had a diamond room in her private apartments of the palace, where she stored her collection and held evening card games with the court. In the 18th century, royals amped up the splendor of their palaces (many to keep up with Versailles), and Tsarskoe-Selo received the same treatment.
Thus, the Amber Room was born. It was decorated in the Baroque style; the walls were layered with amber, and 565 candles were lit to enhance the brilliance of the design. Courteille reinforces that brilliance with a micromosaic necklace set with yellow and orange sapphires, citrines, garnets, calcedonies, red opals, and red jasper.
An 'À la mode' Salon and Its Iconic Furniture
The Art Deco decorative movement was a testament to modernizing luxury, with designers leaning on expert craftsmanship and beautiful materials to create sleek, of-the-future interiors. The Glass Salon (or Le Salon de Verre) was decorated in 1932 by Paul Ruaud for Madame Mathieu-Lévy, the milliner behind J. Suzanne Talbot in Paris.
The stark space boasted a floor laid with silvered mats, a statement-making panel decorated with silver and black lacquer, and two tubular armchairs designed by Eileen Gray, the famed Irish furniture designer and architect. Suzanne Belperron took inspiration from these armchairs for her Bibendum ring: Oval stacks of 18-karat gray gold are topped with a mercurial rainbow moonstone.
A Legendary Hotel and Its Notable Resident
The famed Hôtel Lambert in Paris, located on the Île Saint-Louis in the 4th arrondissement of the city, was built between 1640 and 1644 by financier Jean-Baptiste Lambert. Its interior decoration is a top-notch example of 17th-century architecture and decorative painting imagined by Charles Le Brun, François Perrier, and Eustache Le Sueur. Over the years, the hotel served different facets of society in different ways, including hosting political gatherings during the Great Emigration from Poland. In the 20th century, it was split into several apartments, and the ground floor was rented by Baron de Redé from 1947 until his death. De Redé was known for lavish dinner parties and balls, including one of his most famous and outrageous in 1969: the Bal Oriental.
The guest list included the likes of Guy de Rothschild, Brigitte Bardot, and Salvador Dalí. Van Cleef & Arpels has brought this soirée for le tout-Paris back to life in sparkling splendor with its Palmes Décor necklace from the Bals de Légende collection: multicolored diamonds set in a beautiful flora motif stun the senses.
An Inspiring Apartment and Its Worldly Wares
During the 17th century, Louis XIV directed sailors to sail to the coast of Cholamandal in search of pearls and gems, as detailed by Marco Polo in his Book of Wonders. The sailors instead discovered other objects that captivated the senses: jade, porcelains, and screens coated in lacquer. Lacquer is an ancient finishing technique in which is a vegetable resin is heated, strained, and painted onto wood in layer after layer to preserve and decorate objects with a sheen that is incomparable.
Fashion icon Coco Chanel collected Coromandel screens that she would move from one house or apartment to the next.
Her interiors were characterized by lacquered surfaces, shades of gold and deep red, and ships, flowers, and birds, and her screens served for moments of privacy and reflection. On them, she mounted photographs and drawings from friends who were artists, creating her own world. The Coromandel collection from Chanel celebrates designs that were treasured by Chanel, including her signature floral, the camellia. This cuff is reversible, and the design evokes the geometric structure of the Coromandel screens.
An Idyllic Villa and Its Lasting Impression
Fulco di Verdura, the future Duke of Verdura, was born in Sicily in 1899 to an aristocratic family who resided at the Villa Niscemi outside of Palermo, Sicily. The villa, constructed in the 16th century, was built on three levels with a courtyard and covered terraces, and its decoration, complete with trompe l'oeil wall paintings and frescoes, informed much of Verdura's work later in life as a jeweler.
His early exposure to high style may well have prompted Verdura's move to Paris in 1927, where he began working as a textile designer for his friend Coco Chanel. He later moved on to designing jewelry for Chanel before he emigrated to California and started creating pieces for Hollywood starlets, including Linda Porter. The winged hearts and cherubs seen in his work, like in this lapis and diamond brooch, can be credited back to the tasteful opulence of his childhood home.
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