Though Switzerland may be famous for watchmaking, the nation is also home to brands that offer exquisite fine jewellery. In fact, some of the world’s most spectacular pieces are made by Swiss brands. We highlight three of the most luxurious brands whose jewellery you simply must add to your collection
Switzerland has been the centre of luxury watchmaking for centuries and draws customers back year after year in search of the perfect timepiece. However, the nation doesn’t only offer watches. At several of Geneva’s houses renowned for horological expertise some of the most spectacular stones imaginable are being transformed into fine and high jewellery of supreme quality.
One such house is Chopard. Founded in 1860 by Louis-Ulysse Chopard, the brand has created some of the finest timepieces in the world. Early clients ranged from Tsar Nicholas II of Russia to the Swiss Railways. During the 19th and early 20th centuries Chopard and precision watchmaking became synonymous. It wasn’t until the 1980s that the children of Chopard’s then owner, Karl Scheufele, decided to take a chance and add fine and high jewellery to the portfolio of this prestigious watchmaker.
Caroline Scheufele, now the company’s co-president, was one of those children. Her focus on the luxury jewellery market transformed Chopard into the brand it is today. Chopard’s exquisite high jewellery collection is now a cornerstone of the brand’s identity. Enduring collaborations with stars such as Rihanna, and a commitment to sustainable and ethically sourced gemstones presented in the annual Green Carpet Collection have given Chopard a global presence in the jewellery industry. It’s an incredible feat for a 158-year-old company whose jewellery business was unheard of less than 40 years ago.
Another house whose origins lie in watchmaking is Piaget, which despite its horological beginnings now owns the largest jewellery workshop in all of Geneva. Thousands of precious stones are set here each year. Piaget was founded in 1874 by Georges Édouard Piaget as a classical Swiss watchmaker and it famously developed a signature, ultra-thin movement. Its journey into jewellery was a gradual one. Piaget created its very first jewellery pieces during the 1950s; in 1959 it opened its first boutique in Geneva, selling products from its newly opened jewellery factory.
Amid the flamboyant Hollywood fashions of the 1960s, the company began to experiment with increasingly colourful jewellery-watches, set with stones such as turquoise, onyx and lapis lazuli. The brand’s daring cuff watch designs of the 1970s, which blended its expertise in both jewellery making and horology, have been an inspiration to other makers across the globe.
Fast-forward to the present day and Piaget’s biannual high jewellery collections, which are presented during the Paris couture shows, are awaited eagerly and continue to develop alongside the brand’s advances in the field of watchmaking. The more accessible fine jewellery collection features a broad selection of different styles, from diamond pendants to the brand’s ever-popular cocktail rings. The witty designs of the rings draw inspiration from actual cocktails, with names including Lemon Fizz and Blueberry Daiquiri showing that these makers of spectacular jewellery have an appealing sense of humour.
Another champion of fun in high jewellery is De Grisogono. A relative newcomer to the Swiss luxury market, the brand was founded in 1993 by black diamond specialist Fawaz Gruosi and, unlike houses such as Chopard and Piaget, began with stunning jewellery and progressed to timepieces as the company developed. In fact, De Grisogono’s dedication to spectacular jewellery is such that in 2017 the brand broke Christie’s auction records with its Creation 1 emerald-cut diamond necklace that achieved a price of CHF 33,500,000.
However, it’s not only sizable stones that have found De Grisogono a place in the hearts of clients over the years. Colour, creativity and humour characterise its creations. From the signature Crazymals collection of animal-shaped cocktail rings and the understated Melone collection inspired by the namesake fruit, to the outstanding visual feast offered in the Melody of Colours collection, De Grisogono’s pieces are created to be talked about and, most importantly, enjoyed. ‘I think in volumes, I imagine in colours, I design in lights,’ says Fawaz Gruosi.
For De Grisogono it’s all about the unexpected; simple gold earrings twist and turn in unusual ways, solitaire rings are transformed by unique waves of metal encasing the stone. Colourful jewels are used in extraordinary ways throughout the brand’s watch collection, as you might expect from the avant-garde label, proving that in Switzerland the jewellery and watchmaking worlds are never far apart.
In a country famous for innovative watchmaking, sumptuous chocolate and breathtaking landscapes it might be easy to overlook the evolving jewellery industry that is gently growing and quietly thriving. Yet once you discover some of the striking pieces on offer you’ll be impressed and dazzled by this area of Swiss expertise.