Necklaces with detachable pendants that double as brooches, tiaras fit for royalty that can also be worn as bracelets, and earrings which can transform into haircombs are making their way back this season. High Jewelry brands such as Chaumet, Van Cleef & Arples, Cartier, Bulgari and Graff have re-embraced the notion of transformable jewelry. The versatile trend is“perfectly adapted to our times,” says Jean-Marc Mansvelt, CEO of Chaumet.
An example would be Chopard’s Garden of Kalahari collection with a transformable necklace featuring diamond pendants totaling 101 cts. The diamonds originate from the Queen of Kalahari, a 342-carat rough diamond which transformed into a six-piece jewelry set. The stone was recovered by the Lucara Diamond mining company in Botswana’s Karowe Mine two years ago, which was then cut by experts in Antwerp. The necklace can be worn as a simple choker, built up with further rows of petal-shaped diamonds, or adorned with a detachable flower, from which it’s possible to hang one, two or three pendants. The pear and heart pendants can in turn be attached to the crescent-shaped earrings, creating a strikingly mismatched pair of drop earrings.
The trend dates back to the late 19th century when royalty required jewels appropriate for coronations and balls. Since the pieces were seldom worn throughout the rest of the year, innovative jewelers offered creations suitable for a variety of occasions. “The origin is very pragmatic, especially with pieces like tiaras,” says Pierre Rainero, Cartier’s director of image, style and heritage. Cross-continental travel during the art deco period served as another purpose of this type of jewels as ladies were limited with regards to the number of jewelry sets they could travel with, “so they went for pieces that could be worn in different ways,” says Van Cleef & Arpels’ CEO Nicholas Bos.
While transformable jewelry tends to be clipped together and broken down using clasps, brackets and clips, the creations are more technically challenging to design, says auction expert Graeme Thompson. The comeback is relevant today as “Women are multifaceted; they live several lives in one day and want jewels that adapt to different occasions, outfits and moods,” says Mansvelt. Apart from the versatility, in today’s economic climate, transformable jewelry also makes for investment pieces. “Clients are conscious that they are investing a lot and they want to get the most wear out of it,” Rainero says.