Jewelry is a symbol of success and self-assurance, and the trademark of power and wealth. Used by kings and queens to indicate their status in society and their authority over the rest of us, it is also the attire of the rich and famous. Those more ordinary may access its aura and social reputation too, making it a medium of investment and a source of prestige. Fine jewelry brands have reliably produced pieces of outstanding craftsmanship and beauty, through their customary exceptional workmanship and artistic genius. Some of these brands are named below, together with a brief look at their histories and most remarkable achievements.
In the Swiss tradition of watchmakers and jewelers, Piaget has a reputation for high quality and characteristic designs. The brand has nearly 150 years of history and is renowned for the extremely thin construction of their timepieces. This technique of watchmaking, known as “ultra-thin movement”, is an example of the talent and standard of workmanship that is inherent in the pieces of this house. Their thinnest timepiece, the Calibre12P, measures less than 3mm. One of the leading jewelry brands, Piaget also manufactures outstanding jewelry, with the distinctive rose shape being included in many of their pieces.
As an island state, it is no surprise that legendary Japanese jewelry brand Mikimoto specializes in the use of pearls. Established in 1893, Kokichi Mikimoto is credited with developing the world’s first cultured pearls, although natural pearls from exotic locations are used too. The pearls are in a range of colors, combined skillfully with the precious metals to produce the effect of the sea’s power harnessed by human ingenuity. The brand also utilizes gemstones, and nothing else than 18 carat silver and gold.
Cartier is one of the premier jewelry brands in the world, with a long and illustrious past. The panther, resplendent in gemstones and precious metal, is Cartier’s trademark design. This house has provided pieces to official royalty, such as the Duchess of Windsor or Queen Victoria’s son Edward. The latter commissioned Cartier to supply the jewelry for his coronation. Other notable personas and superstars, such as Cornelius Vanderbilt, Barbra Streisand and Elizabeth Taylor, have also worn pieces by this brand. Cartier therefore is associated with power and fame, as part of its lengthy and star-studded history as a jeweler and watchmaker.
This brand was started in 1932 by its namesake, who is also nicknamed the King of Diamonds. Based in New York City, Harry Winston is an international operation that produces fine jewelry and excellent timepieces. Presently a member of the Swatch Group, the brand has developed a niche specialty in its estate jewelry, or pieces which have a history of past ownership and are treasured as antique. The superior workmanship and interesting story of each piece add to their value and their charm. Respect for the mores of society and the innate human sentiment that attaches to valuable gems is shown by Mr Winston’s donation of the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institute in 1958, making it available to everyone to admire and be inspired by.
Gucci is internationally synonymous with luxury, expensive accessories and the epitome of upmarket society generally. Founded by Guccio Gucci in 1921, the name is famous for its handbags and apparel. However, there is also Gucci jewelry, for both sexes. The Horsebit configuration is Gucci’s unique design signature.
The brand recently made the news when it was worn by none other than the feisty singer Lady Gaga, and its fame is evidenced by its mention in popular media and its use by superstars and other public figures. It has come to be regarded as a telltale sign of opulence and ostentation.
These brands are all internationally famous and have long track records of providing the finest jewelry to the most upmarket and discerning customers. As rare as gemstones are, and as expensive as precious metals have proven to be, the skill and creativity that is incorporated into the work of these jewelry houses enhances the value of each piece and turns it into something that is far more treasured than the stones and metal themselves. As the epitome of human aptitude, social endeavor and creative ability, these jewelry brands represent some of humanity’s finest achievements, not only as works of art but as statements of authority and economic success in society.