x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Dramatic jewellery is having a 'moment'

Bling pieces of punchy jewellery are all we need to update an outfit.

I did my first fashion shoot in a while last week. Although the theme wasn't about jewellery – it focused on midi-length pencil skirts – I found myself using just one item of punchy jewellery such as a spiky cuff, metal choker or cocktail ring, without thinking, to inject fashion into the mix.

It feels to me like jewellery has quietly crept back on to the radar and is now instrumental (rather than incidental) in creating the "look" of the moment.

A recent swell in the high-end fine jewellery sector triggered by big spending markets - chiefly the Middle East and (jewellery-loving) emerging nations such as China, Russia, Brazil and India - has seen many fashion houses launch lucrative "high jewellery" ranges, such as Louis Vuitton and Chanel.

Meanwhile, pioneering jewellery brands such as Chopard, Cartier, Theo Fennell, David Morris and Solange Azagury-Partridge have been infusing fashion and contemporary trends into fabulous future heirlooms. The result? It's now a vintage "moment" for jewellery.

Most recently, the international jewellery house Fabergé launched its first advertising campaign to showcase its exquisite and rare gems inspired by the genius of Peter Carl Fabergé.

The 1990s Gucci team of the stylist Carine Roitfeld and the photographer Mario Testino reunited for this gorgeous campaign, and cast Bee Gee, the Russian-Lithuanian rising star and model sensation (nothing to do with the 1970s trio of toothy brothers), to be the campaign's face, with dramatic results.

Featuring large jewelled pieces such as the Lumiere d'Ete Earrings and Oeuf Violet Olga Email Egg Pendant (a vast and colourful piece which wowed everyone during Paris Haute Couture Week in July), it already seems to have had an impact on high-street fashion chains such as Topshop and H&M, whose space given over to jewellery seems to have doubled.

Formerly, when I worked on the British stalwart The Daily Telegraph for well over a decade, a photographic shoot was a twice-weekly occurrence and jewels, as big and bold and sparkling as possible, were part of my life. For years, my routine went something like this: book studio/photographer/model/make-up artist. Then book security guard.

Fine jewellery played a crucial role in fashion at the time and names such as Chopard, Tiffany, Cartier etc always did the most exciting and current pieces, which is why a burly security man came on all assignments. One even had to accompany me and a particularly glamorous model to the Taj Mahal ladies' lavatory, I remember, because we couldn't undo the clasp of one necklace.

Over the years, as well as keeping aspirin, safety pins and double-sided tape to stick down flapping belts or hemlines in my prop kit, other essential must-haves included a length of black velvet to lay out expensive jewellery and a cloth to polish it.

The other day I found myself dusting off the same black velvet, which came in handy to show off the glittering jewels for the shoot, most of which came from inexpensive fashion chains.

I can put this down to the fact jewellery has enjoyed a big comeback on the catwalk, with trail-blazing designers such as Lanvin's Albert Elbaz and Prada using it with a contemporary nonchalance, slinging clunking pieces over daywear, not evening wear.

There have also been some fabulous collaborations that have earned vast coverage in fashion magazines despite the actual jewellery being way off-limits to average women.

Projects such as Shaun Leane and Daphne Guinness's Contra Mundum or "against the world" - where a bespoke armour-like evening glove of lace was inlaid with a thousand grams of gold and 5,000 pave white diamonds - have made jewellery become the stuff of dreams.

Meanwhile, the Austrian crystal giant Swarovski and its continuing fashion sponsorships, where part of the deal sees trendy designers incorporate sparkling Swarovski gems into their collections, continues to see jewellery feature alongside cutting-edge fashion.

Noteworthy high-end pieces currently include Cartier's panthers, now joined by diamond parrots; Chanel's starburst paste brooches and anything by the former creative director at Boucheron, Solange Azagury-Partridge.

Take inspiration from David Morris's cocktails rings, Stephen Webster's diamond stars that appear to be hooked on white gold barbed-wire necklaces, Giorgio Armani's pastel pearls and even bejewelled eyewear by Miu Miu and Moo Piyasombatkul.

Because we are not all Lady Gaga (who is currently wearing Moo's glasses to great effect), care should be taken to balance jewellery with your outfit. It's not a case of piling on bangles or necklaces randomly, more using strong pieces to offset simple clothing silhouettes, such as Prada's rose clusters which update/go with anything.

Alternatively, invest in a small square watch embezzled with diamonds. This has got to be the one-off statement piece of the season with that winning combination of function and fashion. Everyone's done one, from Chanel to Next. No security guard required.