Jet-Set Jewelry

Courtesy Piaget / © Conde Nast Archive/Corbis / Henry Dunay

High-octane trinkets from the golden era of beau-monde travel are arriving at a store near you.

Diamonds may be forever, but jewelry goes in and out of fashion almost as quickly as its ready-to-wear counterparts—and recycles itself accordingly. The latest example comes out of the hedonistic ’60s and ’70s, when jewelry designs were oversized, sculptural and glamorous, dripping with gold and often the focal point of any given fashion shoot—usually starring Marisa Berenson or Veruschka, clad in nothing but head scarves and huge rocks. 

Yes, midcentury-modern jewelry is once again having a moment of gilded glory. Anyone doubting the renewed interest need only look at what’s selling on the auction block: Earlier this year, a Jean Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co. amethyst, emerald and diamond bib necklace from the ’60s fetched double its estimate, $161,000, at Sotheby’s, while Christie’s sold a Piaget coral, nephrite and gold wristwatch for $55,000, five times its estimate. And midcentury-era brand Henry Dunay made its official comeback (albeit without its namesake designer) this fall, with archival pieces like the etched-gold and colored-stone Sabi rings and bracelets that are being sold at Neiman Marcus. 

But the strongest revival comes from Piaget. During the Paris couture shows in July, the Swiss watch and jewelry brand unveiled Extremely Piaget, a 125-piece collection that riffs on some of the house’s greatest jewelry and wristwatch hits from its heyday, as well as two pieces that the company recently acquired: Jackie Onassis’s jade stone-dial watch and Andy Warhol’s square-and-oval-shaped watch. 

Among the many jet-set jewels, there are emerald and turquoise bead bracelets and long sautoirs with diamonds and turquoise beads set in delicately interwoven chains of gold that give the necklace the supple feel of fabric. The brand also brought back some of its more inventive watch designs, like its stone-dial watch cuffs in lapis, jade, ruby and opal. After officially debuting at the Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris in September, before dovetailing its way to NYC, the Extremely Piaget Collection is now at Piaget’s Rodeo Drive boutique in Los Angeles.