6 Timeless Pieces Of Jewellery To Buy
DIAMONDS aren’t the only jewels meant to be forever. Here, BAZAAR explores the perennial pieces that never go out of style, from dazzling timepieces to bracelets and necklaces.
The Rolex Lady-Datejust Watch
Sophia Loren, Princess Grace of Monaco, Sienna Miller and Jennifer Aniston have all been spotted with this Rolex watch
Considered the first chronometer and self-winding wristwatch to display the date in a window on its dial, Rolex’s Datejust was launched in 1945 to mark the 40th anniversary of the company’s founding. The brand was originally called Wilsdorf & Davis after founders Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis and changed to Rolex in 1908. In 1957, Rolex released a women’s version: the Lady-Datejust — often referred to as the Lady Date, and certified as a chronometer. Inspired by the design of the men’s timepiece, only smaller (24 millimetres), it featured a waterproof Oyster case, self-winding movement and the signature Rolex date display window at the 3 o’clock mark. Official Rolex testimonees who have worn the Lady Date include American marine biologist and oceanographer Dr Sylvia Earle, tennis player Chris Evert and golfer Annika Sörenstam. The many high-profile women who have been photographed with one include Sophia Loren, Princess Grace of Monaco, Sienna Miller and Jennifer Aniston.
The Tiffany & Co. Enamel Bracelets
Sarah Jessica Parker and Anne Hathaway have worn them on magazine covers
Tiffany & Co. launched its colourful vitreous enamel Croisillon bracelets in 1962. For these pieces, Jean Schlumberger revived a 19th-century enamel technique called paillioné. This complex, labour-intensive process involves layering coats of enamel over alternating sheets of 18-carat gold foil, firing the item at a high temperature between coats. This process can be repeated as many 60 times. During her tenure as First Lady in the 1960s, Jacqueline Kennedy helped popularise the bracelets, so much so that they became dubbed the Jackie bracelets. They remain among Tiffany’s most iconic pieces, with originals fetching prices into the tens of thousands of dollars at jewellery auctions. They have been featured on the red carpet, and actors Sarah Jessica Parker and Anne Hathaway have worn them on magazine covers.
The Bulgari Serpenti Watch
The long list of celebrities with a Serpenti watch include Gina Lollobrigida, Charlize Theron, Martha Hunt, Julianne Moore and Zendaya
The surprising origin of Bulgari’s Serpenti Tubogas watch is the plumbing world. Patented in 1881, the Tubogas was a flexible metal pipe that transported pressurised gas. In the 1940s, jewellers, including Bulgari’s founder, the Greek silversmith Sotirios Boulgaris, were looking for a new technique to add flexibility to their creations and happened upon the piping. Boulgaris used it to create a bracelet watchband that emulated the look of a snake coiled around the wearer’s wrist, with the watchcase and dial as the serpent’s head. Throughout the 1950s, the Bulgari Serpenti grew into an entire jewellery collection. The Serpenti watch gained mainstream attention when Elizabeth Taylor wore one in a publicity shot taken on the set of Cleopatra in Rome’s Cinecitta Studios in 1962. The long list of celebrities photographed wearing one includes Gina Lollobrigida, Charlize Theron, Martha Hunt, Julianne Moore and Zendaya.
The Cartier Tank Watch
Cartier Tank devotees include Andy Warhol, Princess Diana, Michelle Obama and Angelina Jolie
One of the world’s most classic watches, the Tank Louis Cartier, originates in World War I. Louis Cartier, the grandson of the company founder, Louis-François Cartier, created it in 1917. He was inspired, in part, by the boxy design of the revolutionary new Renault FT-17 tanks that he had seen on the Western Front during his time as an auxiliary driver. Before the watch went into production, he presented it to General John J. Pershing of the American Expeditionary Forces, whose successful war campaign was a major turning point for the Allies. In 1996, the design was transformed into a bracelet watch: the Tank Française. The Cartier Tank has many boldface devotees. They include Rudolph Valentino (whose character, Ahmed, wore one in the 1926 film The Son of the Sheik), Steve McQueen, Muhammad Ali, Jacqueline Kennedy, Andy Warhol, Princess Diana and more recently, Michelle Obama, Angelina Jolie and Meghan Markle.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 101 Watch
Catherine Deneuve, Dakota Fanning, Diane Kruger and Anya Taylor-Joy have all worn the Calibre 101
Part watch, part diamond bracelet, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s (JLC) Calibre 101 was unveiled in 1929 and has remained the smallest mechanical watch movement ever made. Representing a unique confluence of high-jewellery and fine watchmaking and featuring diamonds set in the company’s signature Griffe technique, it boasts almost 100 hand-assembled components. It measures 14 millimetres in length, 4.8 millimetres in width, and 3.4 millimetres in thickness — and it weighs just one gram. Queen Elizabeth II famously wore a yellow-gold version for her coronation in 1953. It was a gift from France’s then-President, Vincent Auriol. For the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, JLC presented her with a white-gold version. Catherine Deneuve, Dakota Fanning, Diane Kruger and Anya Taylor-Joy, who was named the company’s latest global ambassador in September, have all worn one.
The Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra Motif
The Alhambra designs have been seen on at least two princesses: Princess Grace of Monaco and Kate Middleton, the newly minted Princess of Wales
Four-leaf clovers have been a recurring motif in Van Cleef & Arpels’ (VCA) collections since the company’s founding in 1906 — most notably in the Alhambra pieces. First unveiled in 1968 in the form of a long necklace with 20 clover-shaped motifs in creased yellow-gold and trimmed with gold beads, VCA later developed the Alhambra theme into several jewellery items. The design was a tribute to Jacques Arpels, the son of VCA co-founder Julien Arpels, who joined the company in 1935 and was fond of collecting four-leaf clovers for luck in his garden in Germigny-l’Évêque, just outside Paris. He later presented them to VCA staff with a copy of American poet John Greenleaf Whittier’s inspirational poem “Don’t Quit”, about soldiering through life’s challenges. Alhambra designs have been seen on at least two princesses: Princess Grace of Monaco and Kate Middleton, the newly minted Princess of Wales.
This story appears in the February 2023 issue of Harper’s BAZAAR Australia/New Zealand, available for delivery here.