To create truly exceptional and interesting jewelry, one must first have an impeccable grasp of both gem craft and design. The interplay of gemstones – cut to very specific requirements, sometimes to emphasize their own brilliance, other times to serve the overall effect – within a striking design that captivates the eye, is what makes a piece truly remarkable.
High jewelry house Cartier is familiar with this dynamic: it is not one of the most revered jewelry houses in the world for nothing. Its latest collection, Sixième Sens, luxuriates in the art of jewelry making, with each piece showing its clever mastery.
Sixième Sens, which means “sixth sense” in French, uses trompe-l’oeil optical illusions and graphic geometric patterns to create intriguing jewelry pieces that are almost hypnotic in their visual impact.
The Meride necklace, for instance, looks simple enough at first glance but reveals its captivating details under closer inspection. When viewed straight on, the piece’s white diamonds, black onyx, and rock crystal gems are neatly stacked in a checkerboard pattern. In reality, however, each set of gems is mounted at a different height, allowing them to catch the light in an unusually mesmerizing way. Moreover, not all the gems are cut into squares: some are rectangular and cropped into different sizes, with the differing heights adding still more visual interest. Plus, Cartier’s typical attention to detail means that the back of the piece is equally intriguing, displaying the exact reverse image of the front of the piece.
The Meride necklace is an excellent example of gemstones employed in the service of good design. For the Parhelia ring, however, the design is at the service of the magnetic 21.51-carat sapphire at the heart of the ring. The gem is cut in a cabochon shape – unusual for a gem of this size – but the gentle curves of its surface seem to bring out its glow even more intensely. It is bracketed on either side by five rows of diamonds and emeralds, which give the appearance of ripples on the surface of a lake or energy radiating outward from the heart of the gem. Each row of smaller gems is also accented on its sides by black lacquer, which gives an added depth and dimensionality to the piece and reinforces the impression of movement. The ring is wide enough to span three fingers, so it is most definitely a statement piece – but should the wearer prefer to go hands-free, the piece can also be transformed into a brooch.
If there is one motif that has been transformed and shaped into different forms over the years, it’s Cartier’s famous panther. Present in the maison’s oeuvre since 1914, there is nary a collection that doesn’t feature its shadow. Sixième Sens is no different. Anyone seeing the Pixelage necklace is bound to be reminded of the maison’s obsession with big cats. The yellow gold setting studded with diamonds in white, yellow, and orange, as well as trapezoid-cut onyxes, evoke a panther’s patterned pelt, stylized in a precious stone. The center of the necklace is highlighted by three golden topaz gemstones, which total 27.34 carats in weight.
The Sixième Sens collection comprises – somewhat ironically considering its name – a total of seven pieces. Each is exceptionally beautiful in its own way. Most beautiful of all though, Cartier has been certified by the Responsible Jewellery Council as a mark of its dedication to ethical environmental and social practices. Now that’s good sense.
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