Buyer’s Guide to High Luxury Jewelry 9

Exquisite Jewelry and Watches for Valentine’s Day

Exquisite jewelry and great timepieces can create a chic aura around the person who wears them, but why? How to account for jewelry’s magical effects? Why are some of us so magnetically attracted to great jewels and watches?

“Jewelry and timepieces symbolize enduring mysteries of Beauty, Love and Time,” says Hutton Wilkinson, the designer and owner of Beverly Hills-based heritage brand Tony Duquette. “When you give, wear or admire jewelry, you celebrate the mystery of Creation with someone you love, and with the world.”

Wilkinson does have a point. Precious metals are the result of meteorite bombardments that occurred 200 million years after Earth was formed, and gemstones are created over millennia under intense pressures deep within the earth. This year, celebrate your love and communion with Creation by giving jewels and/or watches created by one of the following heritage brands or high luxury designers.

When visiting Cartier in Costa Mesa’s South Coast Plaza, check out the men’s and women’s steel and 18K gold tank watches, including the 2015 Clé de Cartier collection. Framed in elegantly rounded 18K gold or steel, the Clé, (French for “key”) is a unisex timepiece available in three sizes: 40, 35 and 31 mm. The crown features a sapphire that’s set ingeniously flush into the precious metal of the case.

Founded in 1847 by Louis Cartier, the Parisian house of Cartier is justly famed for its high jewelry and limited edition collections. Especially striking are the Nouvelle Vague (“New Wave”) jewels. The lapis lazuli Nouvelle Vague bracelet glows with 252 tiny cones of lapis lazuli set with pink and yellow sapphires, diamonds, emeralds, fire opals, tsavorite garnets and spinels. This aesthetically triumphant, precious statement bracelet retails for $250,000.

Another way to give, enjoy and learn about Cartier is through Francois Chaille’s book, Cartier Royal: High Jewelry and Precious Objects. Available at, this lavish, large format photo book instantly glamourizes one’s surroundings with high luxury imagery and a chic aura and is an ideal Chinese New Year or Valentine’s Day gift.

“The creations presented in the book’s last section, ‘Regal Design,’ are especially significant ones for us,” says Cartier International editor and spokeswoman Sophie Marin. “They are born out of Cartier’s curiosity for pared-down lines, a demanding approach inherited from the company’s founder Louis Cartier.”

Geneva-based Chopard’s South Coast Plaza boutique showcases Happy Diamonds jewels and watches for women, state-of-the-art sport and evening watches, plus high jewelry made of Fairmined 18k white gold and ethically sourced diamonds. While browsing, shoppers also have the option of luxuriating in the retail refuge provided by Chopard’s private viewing rooms.

Chopard’s motto is “A Passion for Excellence.” One way that this philosophy is expressed is through the brand’s commitment to using ethically sourced materials. Chopard’s varied selection of Fairmined gold watches and its Fairmined 18K yellow gold Palme Verte Collection attract those in search of jewels that originate from certified humane Fair Trade mining operations, as well as stone cutting facilities where working conditions are safe and people receive Fair Trade wages.

Originally a watch company, Chopard’s L.U.C. XP Urushi “Year of the Monkey” watch is timed to celebrate Chinese New Year, beginning February 8, 2016. Housed in a rose gold case; fitted with a black alligator strap, the dial of this limited edition, unisex watch is made with Urushi lacquer derived from tree sap and features a red-coated monkey perching on a branch gathering eight peaches. (While peaches symbolize health and vitality in Chinese culture, eight is believed to be a very lucky number.)

To create this and other Urushi dials, Chopard collaborates with the firm Yamada Heiando, official purveyor to the Japanese Imperial family. Designated as a “living human treasure” in Japan for artistic achievements, Master Kilchiro Masumura designed and supervised creation of “Year of the Monkey” and other Urushi watches. The artisan Master Minori Koizumi created the monkey watch dial through the ancient Maki-e technique, which involved sprinkling pure gold dust into the lacquer and applying it with a special brush. Labor-intensive and slow-drying, lacquer requires patient polishing before each successive layer can be applied.

If diamonds dazzle you or your beloved, then prep for Valentine’s Day the right way by visiting South Coast Plaza’s Harry Winston boutique. Handcrafting impeccable jewels with the iciest, most scintillating and perfectly cut diamonds is the House of Harry Winston’s undisputed specialty. Founded in 1932, Winston also produces daytime and evening watches for both sexes that are the last word in elegance.

For those seeking one-of-a-kind, design-driven and boldly scaled jewels that impart dream-like, dramatic effects, Tony Duquette is the go-to brand. Collected by 20th century style icons such as the late Duchess of Windsor and now designed in Beverly Hills by Hutton Wilkinson, Duquette jewels embody remarkably original artistic vision and master craftsmanship. A prime example is Duquette’s ornate pair of richly textured 18K yellow gold dragon cuffs. The ideal adornment for Chinese New Year or other gala celebrations, the cuffs are inlaid with antique jade Foo Dog plaques. Magically textured like dragon skin, the gold bracelets are studded with luminous, amber-colored citrine cabochon “warts.” A vast selection of Duquette jewels currently for sale can be viewed and purchased at Duquette jewels are also sold via trunk shows and by appointment.

Yet another master jewelry designer specializing in one-of-a-kind, haute luxe jewelry is Chris Davies.  While based in New York, Davies spends part of each year in Orange County on Balboa Island.

Weaving high karat gold beads around intensely colored gemstones like deep blue lapis lazuli, forest green malachite and peach moonstones, Davies has pioneered a luxurious and unique woven granulation technique. While his jewels reside in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, another distinctive reason behind their allure is versatility. These jewels are as suitable for gala occasions as they are for beach parties, and considering their artistry, rarity and preciousness, they’re reasonably priced.  (A malachite and 18K yellow gold bead necklace retails for $8,000.) In Orange County, Davies sells via trunk shows. In Los Angeles County, Davies sells at Vintage Malibu, in Malibu.

When in doubt about what kind of jewelry to give or wear, “First, consider the needs of whomever you are shopping for,” Davies suggests. “Look for jewels that coordinate with the clothing styles and colors that they most often wear.” Second, “Choose a necklace, bracelet or earrings that suits all seasons of their lifestyle.” Last but not least, “Only buy what you love!”

Kyle Roderick is Founder/Editor of the international high luxury jewelry blog Find her on Instagram @bijouxreview.