NATURE INSPIRED JEWELRY – Sculpting Gems True to Life
Few things in life can truly take our breath away like the marvels of Mother Nature. The explosion of color in a field of wildflowers or the majestic view of a sunset over the mountains… the natural world is full of beauty that moves us. When Giuseppe Picchiotti launched the PICCHIOTTI brand in 1967 and started designing his own line of fine jewelry, he turned to his innate love of nature for inspiration. The precise geometry in certain types of flowers, the spectacle of feathers in exotic birds, the intricate details of living creatures – each has, in its own way, moved him to the act of creation, serving as a source of great wonder and delight as he devised ways to hand craft them into majestic pieces of fine jewelry.
Famed jewelry historian Vivienne Becker wrote in her 2017 book about PICCHIOTTI : “From the start, PICCHIOTTI took up the challenge, creating flora and fauna, birds and blossoms, a starfish that seems to morph into a flower, a wispy, curling diamond feather, a windblown ear of corn, a luscious orchid, collars wrapped around with leaves, or bursting out on one side with an exuberant bloom, a mass of long, slender, lilting petals… for Giuseppe Picchiotti, arch-classicist, the greatest challenge held out by nature to the jeweller lay in the most classic, emotive and allusive of flowers – the rose.”
Rose is a Rose is a Rose …
The classic PICCHIOTTI Rose Brooch evokes a corsage, meant to be worn on the lapel. The original 1967 Rose Brooch features over 400 brilliant-cut white diamonds in pavé that cover the curling petals of the rose. The long stem is masterfully constructed with precisely cut baguette diamonds. The design captures the sweet, velvet texture of a young rose as it gently unfurls to blossom. The piece is sculptural, like wearable art, with a femininity and grace that is as enticing as the famous fragrance of the flower itself.
The success of the iconic Rose Brooch prompted the creation of an entire collection. Over the years, the PICCHIOTTI Rose Collection has grown to encompass a wide variety of rose-inspired earrings, rings and necklaces. Rubies, Pink Sapphires and Rubellite form a beautiful rose gold ring, while other rose rings boast the romantic allure of Blue Sapphires or the crisp color combination of Tsavorites, Diamonds and Sapphire. In earrings, the pair of sculptural roses form statement studs on the ear in sparkling white diamonds, or beautiful gemstones drops add colorful elegance in blue sapphires or radiant rubies.
The necklace provides even greater opportunity for creative fulfillment in the Rose Collection. A snaking stem of bright green Tsavorites, set in black rhodium for maximum brilliance, swirls around the neck and hooks itself to form a choker with a dramatic drop that leads to a rose sculpted in diamonds. Or the rose forms the center of a short V necklace where tendrils like vines caress the neck with delicate, patterned diamond leaves. The rose motif is also used as a lovely pendant on a short white gold chain or as the central focus of a rose gold Y necklace with plunging gemstone drops of green tourmalines.
The entire assortment is a bouquet of delight for rose fans and for those who appreciate the intricate Italian craftsmanship required to produce such masterpieces. Florals are also particularly relevant as they are a big trend for Fall/Winter 2021-22 fashion in both print fabrics and accessories, as seen on the runways at Alberta Ferretti, Acne Studios, Dolce & Gabbana, Ganni, Gabriela Hearst, Simone Rocha, Y Project, and YSL.
The acclaim of those early rose designs inspired Giuseppe to continue to push the boundaries of his craft. He next turned to exceptional fauna for inspiration and began sculpting jeweled forms of charming living creatures, such as swans, tortoises, squirrels, and more. All made of gold, the most malleable of all precious metals, the brooches, rings, and earrings are highlighted with vibrant gems to add lifelike splashes of color. The stripes of a garden snail’s curled shell are brought to life with alternating rows of black onyx and white diamonds. The beguiling serpent motif recurs in many PICCHIOTTI designs, from coiled up cocktail rings to striking collar necklaces. Each of the snake designs comes to life with precious ruby, sapphire or emerald gems creating the pockets of color on the head and slithering body, its skin a mosaic of diamonds and gemstones.
Four legged creatures also find a place in Giuseppe’s cache of affection. The strong and sturdy horse becomes a three-dimensional ring in white gold as the head peers out from the fingertips, swathed by its own mane, detailed with tresses made of diamond rows while a radiant, cushion-cut tanzanite sits atop. Even the tortoise finds a home in PICCHIOTTI’s imagination. Carved as a spectacular cocktail ring, the turtle shell is comprised of undulating white diamonds that form a pattern around the large center fancy yellow diamond. Scalloped yellow gold completes the shell and four little feet stick out, as well as the turtle’s head and eyes, each fashioned in round diamonds.
Fantasy creatures also find an occasional home in the PICCHIOTTI sculpture arsenal, coming to life from pure imagination. In 2012, PICCHIOTTI created a special tribute to mark the Year of the Dragon for Chinese New Year. In China, the Dragon is the symbol of the emperor. It also signifies power, superiority, and rule because it is made of different parts of various animals, including the tiger, the fish, the snake. It is the only animal in Chinese astrology that is not real and whose tail and head can never be seen at the same time. It is believed to bring about something unexpected and unpredictable. For this capsule collection, PICCHIOTTI created two special pendants and a bracelet, each boasting an expressive Dragon face, exquisitely designed and set with round white diamonds and a colored gemstone eye. The jewelry is meant to adorn a bold woman, who, like the dragon, is both powerful and wise.
The level of detail for each of these creations, whether inspired by mythology or nature, is astonishing. Each time you look at these jewels, you notice another specific feature that delights. OR as you turn each over, you cannot help but notice the remarkable quality of the craftsmanship. Wearable works of art, indeed.
Birds of a Feather
In addition to the ground-dwellers referenced above, PICCHIOTTI has also taken to the air for high-flying stimulation. Over its five decades, the brand has created a paradise of birds with dozens of exotic winged sculptures. Historian Becker notes, “Another much-loved perennial jewellery classic, the bird, symbol of enlightenment and messenger of love, has been an essential part of PICCHIOTTI iconography since 1967.” In its archives, the brand has thousands of hand-painted gouache bird designs.
A favorite for its bedazzling array of feathers is the Peacock. The PICCHIOTTI Peacock Brooch features a male peacock in full train as the fanned out feathers are displayed behind. Sculpted in 18K white gold and white diamonds, the profile view features head feathers in pear-shaped yellow diamonds, a beak of hematite, a small round cabochon emerald eye, twenty-four additional emeralds splayed across its feathers, and a large 5.77 carat pear-shaped vivid green Zambian emerald torso accent. The full effect is strikingly lifelike and artistic at the same time. It is a marvel to behold and a treasure to own and wear.
For the more subdued lapel brooch fans, a non-strutting peacock sits atop a branch, its feathers curtailed and colorless with a large oval emerald accent to catch the light as it awaits its potential paramour. A single feather also forms the base for a gorgeous traditional brooch. Each tendril of the feather gently curls in diamond glory as the vein running through its center is hewn of precisely recut baguette blue sapphires.
The eagle is another oft replicated feathered friend, also crafted by PICCHIOTTI in both full flight and perfectly poised in profile. The Bald Eagle in flight has a body and wingspan carved in 18K rose gold covered in round white diamonds, while its all-white head is white gold with white diamonds. The eagle, a symbol of courage, strength, and immortality, is shown here as a victorious captor of a beautiful, exceptionally large, emerald-cut Aquamarine measuring 57.85 carats.
A simpler more refined eagle can be seen in profile as a beautiful brooch. Its 18K gold beak is upturned in a noble pose as his bald white head shimmers in diamonds and his feathers glow with the subtle radiance of mother-of-pearl. He is a striking emblem of pride, stature, and sophistication.
Il Fiore e La Farfalla – The Flower & the Butterfly
Given PICCHIOTTI’s lifelong dedication to color and the entire family’s fascination with colored gemstones, it is no surprise that flowers and butterflies are also prominent themes in the brand’s nature collections. Many flowers have been interpreted by PICCHIOTTI as brooches, each with a unique, one-of-a-kind design. The forms are often inspired by the gems themselves. A large, rare, deeply orange, unheated Spessartite forms the center of sprawling diamond petals in a classic and beautiful brooch in the Essentially Color Collection. Similarly, a unique cluster of 9 pear-shaped perfectly pink sapphires are encrusted in a feminine combination of sinuous diamond petals. This stunning brooch caught the eye of fashion editors and was featured in Veranda magazine in the spring of 2021.
Butterflies also bring delight to the nature inspired jewels of PICCHIOTTI. A popular Butterfly ring design allows for tendrils of small diamonds running through the wings as each has a different marquis-cut gem – ruby, emerald, diamond, or fancy yellow diamond – as the centerpiece. A similar style of earrings poses two butterflies in conversation, one on each ear. A larger and more colorful butterfly motif shows the insect in full flight with vivid emeralds or colorful diamonds in various cuts forming the mosaic-like patterns on its wings. The use of such superior quality gems to recreate Mother Nature’s canvas is spellbinding and creates heirlooms that will be fun to wear and cherish for many years to come.
“For me, nature is full of art and beauty,” says Giuseppe. “The gems themselves are marvels from the core of the earth. To recreate the intricate feather of a bird or the expanse of a colorful butterfly’s wing – this is truly a pleasure and an honor. We capture a moment of nature with the enduring beauty of superlative gems. What can be better than that?”
To discover more of PICCHIOTTI’s Nature Inspired designs, click here.
Feature image at top:
Clockwise from Upper Left – Blue Snakeskin Coat from Flying Solo NYFW F/W 2021-22, PICCHIOTTI archive Sapphire and Diamond Snake Necklace, PICCHIOTTI archive Horse Ring, Art Photography of Horse & Rider, Bird, Floral Landscape, PICCHIOTTI Diamond and Sapphire Feather Brooch, PICCHIOTTI Rose Gold Ring with Diamonds, Tsavorites and center Sapphire
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