The stunning architecture and historical splendour of Prague, known as the Golden City, makes the Czech capital an ideal destination for travellers seeking the perfect adornment. The Czech Republic has long historical links with the trade in quality jewellery, and the fiery red Bohemian garnet is recognised around the world as a symbolic trademark of Czech jewellery design. But in recent years, these lovely garnets have become far from the only gems to be discovered in Prague.
When Cartier, which opened a boutique in Prague in 2007, chose the city as the venue for its Power of Style exhibition last year, it signalled that Prague’s luxury retail market, particularly in jewellery, has reached a new level of significance on the international scene. A walk down the famous Pařížská street in Old Town – also the location of the Cartier boutique – reveals a haven of luxury retail brands, the storefronts sparkling with high-end watches and jewellery.
Luxury jewellery and watch retailer Carollinum has experienced at first hand how the market has grown. ‘From the beginning of our activities in 1996 we have played a significant role in creating and developing the luxury goods market, including jewellery and watches, here,’ explains Martina Lewis, public relations consultant for Carollinum. ‘We have succeeded in developing a portfolio of top prestigious brands like Rolex, Patek Philippe, Cartier and Panerai, including jewellery from Chopard, Piaget, Bulgari.’ The store, she adds, now offers its own custom luxury jewellery as well.
Another gem located on the route between the Vltava River and Old Town Square is Lia Halada, one of three boutiques belonging to this family-owned and operated luxury jeweller. In Lia Halada, as well as in Halada on Na Příkopě and Halada City on Václavské náměstí, shoppers can find opulent jewellery spanning styles from classic to contemporary, a collection that includes exclusive German brands Neissing, Gellner, Schoeffel, Peter Heim and many others. For those in search of fine crystal embellishments, Swarovski has a very large presence throughout Prague, including a boutique on Pařížská street.
Prague’s fine jewellery trade is certainly not concentrated solely on this stretch of road, particularly as the city’s luxury profile grows. The Boucheron boutique on Křižovnická street, which opened last year, boasts a stunning display of some of the brand’s premium collections. One of Boucheron’s more popular pieces is the Quatre ring from its Les Symboliques collection, which, as store manager Marina Vradiy explains, reflects a design trend that combines both the sporty and elegant looks. The collection features bands of white, rose, chocolate and yellow gold, which makes the ring very versatile. ‘It can be worn with almost anything,’ Vradiy says. ‘You can either have the white gold band or have it with diamonds,’ she adds, observing that this option makes it a beautiful item for both men and woman.
When it comes to Czech jewellery, contemporary designers have evolved dazzling concepts that expand the realm of Czech jewellery-making far beyond that of the signature garnet, by combining metal and another renowned Czech tradition, glassworking. Eva Eisler, a leading Czech contemporary jewellery designer, recommends the Qubus Design Studio and Shop on Rámová street in Old Town, and its sister outlet, the Design Shop by Qubus at the Dox Centre for Contemporary Art on Poupětova in the Holešovice district, as being among the best places to find examples of contemporary Czech jewellery design.
Eisler’s own work is available in the Design Shop at the Dox Centre, and is characterised by her use of metal in fluid, precise and very modern designs that reflect the influence of architecture and sculpture on her work. Here, you can also find a variety of work by other Czech designers, including Pavel Opočenský, Petr Dvořák, Rony Plesl and Belda Factory. Belda Factory also has its own boutique on Mikulandská in Old Town, where, as well as modern pieces from the studio owners, the Belda family, you can find the work of several other Czech artists.
If you covet the famed Bohemian garnet, take care when choosing a location for your purchase, as the gemstone’s popularity has given rise to an abundance of outlets selling low quality varieties, especially in areas with high tourist traffic. The company Granát Turnov has a strong reputation for the quality of its Czech garnets, and would be a wiser option. Its jewellery is available at two locations in Prague, on Dlouhá and Panská streets.
Prague has a rich tradition of beautiful ornamental design and jewellery, coupled with a vibrant array of fresh modern designs. Ultimately, the best way to discover the Golden City’s jewellery scene is by leisurely exploration of its charming cobblestoned streets and passageways, where many small studios and galleries, with their own unique collections, lie hidden away, awaiting discovery by the discerning buyer.