Growing up in Philadelphia in the 80s, it was normal to see everyone’s Italian mom named “Marie” sporting an engagement ring with a pear-shaped or a Navette (otherwise known as “marquise”) diamond center stone – one bigger and sometimes tackier than the next. Often, they were surrounded by “clusters” (such an 80s term) of smaller round diamonds or flanked by a baguette “crossover” style setting. But the 90s came and rescued us all by showing us the importance of “ideal cut” round brilliant diamonds, thanks largely to the cut grading system established by the American Gem Society Laboratories. A “look” was replaced by “light” and talk of “points” became discussion of “patterns,” and the pears and marquises of the world were sent into hibernation for well over a generation.
Well folks, like it or not, guess who just woke up.
Baselworld (for those also asleep) is an extraordinary watch, jewelry, and gem show that takes place every year in March at the enormous Messeplatz event complex in the German-influenced town of Basel, Switzerland. It is a sight to behold, with multi-million-dollar two- and three-tier booths built by brands like Hermes, Gucci, Dior, Bulgari and more. And the sighting of an occasional movie or music icon is not uncommon, either. Baselworld is the perfect place to track trends coming out of Europe and Asia and headed toward the States, and this year we saw plenty of fancy-cut gems.
Luxury jewelry brand Messika not only moved into a bigger, brighter and better Baselworld booth, but they decorated it by adding to their beautifully touchable High Jewelry collection. The pieces in their “Isadora” line from their Paris et une Fête collection not only put substantial emphasis on pear-shaped diamonds (over 12 carats total of them), but did so with a fresh and modern feel. By making the earrings in the collection asymmetric, Messika was clearly trying to reach a youthful audience, and why not? Stories and substance are the things that are reaching the new luxury buyer, and Valérie Messika brings both to her designs and so much more.
Chopard dazzles Baselworld year after year but this year they took their brightness to an entirely new level. Using responsibly mined Zambian emeralds from the Gemfields’ Kagem mine, they created one of the most talked-about women’s watches of the fair. The spectacular emerald and diamond Green Carpet collection watch combined Gemfields’ marquise and round emeralds with white diamonds from the IGC group, a corporation certified by the practices of the RJC (Responsible Jewellery Council), which meets the demands of the supervisory body in ethical, social and environmental terms. This watch was another sign of a luxury jewelry brand doing all that it can to reach a younger market through the use of ethical and sustainable practices.
And while Italian jewelry house Picchiotti spent the fair celebrating their 50th anniversary with the introduction of their Italian amphitheater-inspired natural ruby ring named L’anfiteatro, it was their drop pear-shaped diamond and emerald ring from a previous collection titled Imperial that caught many eyes and captured many hearts. The stunning piece contains a pear-shaped center diamond with square-cut baguette emeralds and elongated baguette diamond in 18-karat white gold, making for a spectacular statement piece no matter the age or style of the wearer.
The cliché “everything old is new again” is more relevant now than in years before thanks to the revival of vintage jewels, interest in antique pieces, and the lack of new, sensible diamond cuts. So if the cuts of yesterday become the trends of today, it’s fair to say that most Baselworld jewelry buyers and lovers were just fine with that.