The growing relationship between jewellery and architecture makes so much sense, you wonder why the two don’t partner up more often. After all, they both reference classical shapes, Moorish designs and Art Deco motifs – and give a lot of pleasure to a lot of people.
Zaha Hadid was one of the first architects to extend her design talents to the glittering world of architectonic jewellery, thanks to a collaboration with Swarovski in 2008. This led to her role as a curator for the Goldsmiths’ Fair, where she admitted that some of her architectural designs had been inspired by pieces from her own jewellery collection.
But more often than not, the inspiration goes the other way. Leading the way is Van Cleef & Arpels and their hugely successful Alhambra line, which has taken international society by storm for nearly 50 years. The Alhambra – that shimmering, vaulted-ceilinged, former sultan’s palace in Granada, Spain – proved the ideal inspiration for the namesake collection. First introduced in 1968 and updated over the years, every necklace, earring or ring is designed using the quatrefoil motif (which is visible throughout the Spanish fortress), more recently in a combination of malachite or lapis with textured gold.
Tiffany & Co. followed suit in 2006, collaborating with the inimitable Frank Gehry. For three years the celebrated architect used his wealth of experience in designing buildings to create a sell-out collection of jewellery made from precious metals, wood and stone. His unique architectural style translated into a bold, modern collection of chunky rings and statement necklaces.
Then there’s Bulgari, which has long been inspired by Greek and Roman art and architecture, looked to the East when it revived an old gem shape for its MVSA collection – the curved rectangular shape was designed to imitate the iconic roof tiles on Rajasthani palaces. And for the Manhattanites out there, Chanel recently produced a glittering diamond cuff based on the New York skyline. Let’s hope Macau is up next.