Royal Rocks

Cartier’s latest high-jewelry collection draws inspiration from a collection of rare and regal stones.

Adorning royalty with near priceless gems has long been in the tradition of Cartier, including the mammoth 234-carat yellow diamond in the Maharajah of Patiala’s bib necklace, from 1928, and Grace Kelly’s emerald-cut ten-carat diamond engagement ring, from 1956. So when the French house decided to create a high-jewelry collection inspired by its royal connections, they knew that they had to have the goods to back it up.

Cartier’s director of colored stones (a woman whose job is so confidential that her name cannot be printed) set about amassing a group of special gems that became part of Cartier Royal, a collection of more than 100 unique pieces that debuted at the Biennale des Antiquaires, in Paris, in September. There are the requisite enormous diamonds, including a 30-carat internally flawless and a cabochon-cut 69-carat Ceylon sapphire. But perhaps the most striking stones are the less traditional ones, like a 54-carat light-green emerald nestled in a diamond-encrusted snake cuff (above), a rare 50-carat Pamir spinel drop on a bib of diamonds and natural gray pearls and an Australian opal set on a bracelet of colored sapphires that mimic the gem’s myriad milky tones. “We’ve always used semiprecious stones, not just the usual sapphires and emeralds and rubies,” says Pierre Rainero, Cartier’s director of image, style and heritage. The move to include these less-than-obvious colored stones speaks to their growing investment value, as collectors increasingly seek out opals, spinels and Paraíba tourmalines.

Of course, the collection couldn’t truly be royal without a tiara, so the jeweler used a natural pearl that once belonged to Queen Mary for its latest version of the accessory. The pearl-and-diamond–encrusted crown also converts to a necklace—which is perhaps a better fit for a modern-day princess.

Prices upon request;