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High Jewelry Designers Go for Stacking in a Big Way

The latest trend puts one gem on top of another, boosting total carat counts — and prices.

A platinum Cartier ring with a 4.01-carat rose-cut diamond inserted directly below an 8.20-carat ruby.

By Ming Liu

Aug. 25, 2021

In recent years there has been the ring stack and the wrist stack. And the layering necklace craze known as #neckmess.

But now jewelry designers are working a maximalist stacking trend, placing stones atop stones in a single piece of jewelry, creating designs with serious wow factors in total carat counts — and prices.

Such creations with doubled and sometimes even tripled-up stones were featured in July at the high jewelry collections, from brands like Dior, Boucheron and Cartier.

Cartier, for example, presented the Phaan ring with a 4.01-carat rose-cut diamond all but hidden below a 8.20-carat ruby. Jacqueline Karachi, director of Cartier’s high jewelry creation studio, said the pairing created an illusion that the diamond gave “depth and intensity to the ruby’s color, fooling our senses.”

Louis Vuitton’s La Star Du Nord diamond suite — part of the high jewelry collection commemorating the fashion house’s bicentennial — featured a 10.07-carat diamond cut in the house’s hallmark star motif and placed atop the gem-set knot of a double-strand necklace set with about 850 diamonds. The stone also can be removed and stacked onto a V-shaped diamond-set ring.

A diamond necklace from Boghossian’s Kissing collection with gemstones and rock crystal.

Roberto Boghossian, managing partner at the Geneva jeweler Boghossian, said the art of stacking stones evolved from jewelry’s traditional inlay technique, in which a section of a gemstone is cut away to accommodate another stone.

About 10 years ago his company developed a stacking method it called Kissing, and, Mr. Boghossian said, matching stones for a Kissing piece can take weeks or even months, as proportion, depth, height and color all have to be considered. But the complex balancing act, he added, ultimately “brings refinedness, sophistication and a lot of suppleness” to the creation.

After initially focusing on rings and earrings, the house recently expanded into Kissing necklaces, such as a statement-making piece set with a 267.90-carat Boulder opal, four more Boulder opals totaling 155.15 carats, aquamarine beads and a combination of inlaid and Kissing diamonds, sapphires and turquoise. (Boulder opals, as the name suggests are mined from ironstone boulders.)

Another new creation is a choker of rock crystal links set with five stones: a sapphire, aquamarine, Paraiba and green and pink tourmaline, each one paired with a diamond.

The prices — like those of almost all the high jewelry creations shown in July — are available only on application. But Mr. Boghossian noted that Kissing designs, like many high quality jewels, “can reach significant prices when combining rare gems, depending on their quality and sizes.”

Rock crystal has appeared frequently in stone stacking jewelry, as its transparency heightens the layered effect and it has a contemporary appearance. Boucheron’s Holographique high jewelry collection, presented in July in Paris, featured a futuristic-looking necklace of rock crystal slices, each sprayed with molten titanium and silver for a holographic effect.

The piece, which the house said required more than 600 hours of work, was trimmed in 3,675 diamonds and topped with a 20.21-carat yellow sapphire. It was complemented with a matching bracelet, stacked with a 14.33-carat pink tourmaline, and a ring, with a 4.61-carat blue-green tourmaline.

A Boucheron white gold ring with diamonds, a 4.61-carat oval blue-green tourmaline and a holographic rock crystal.

At the British jeweler Boodles, the Havana ring in its latest travel-inspired collection featured a 3.03-carat yellow-orange pear-shape diamond encircled by bright orange enamel and rock crystal placed over diamond-set rays of gold. Rebecca Hawkins, the brand’s head of design, said the rock crystal layer gave the design “a very tactile and curvy feel” but also muted the smaller diamonds’ shine, allowing the center stone to dominate.

The London jewelry house David Morris likes to use rose-cut diamonds for stacking because the cut, in addition to being a signature, heightens a stone’s transparency and includes a flat base.

In recent years, the house’s senior designer Devyn Downing said, the house has set rose cuts over white diamonds, usually pear shaped, so their flashes of light are reflected through the top stones. He compared the result to looking through a kaleidoscope: “It’s a bit magical — there’s something whimsical and beautiful about it.”

White and pink gold Duchesse earrings by David Morris with two rose-cut diamonds of 2.84 and 3.09 carats and brilliant-cut pink diamonds.

Pink diamond stacks now have joined the David Morris repertoire: a new pair of Duchesse earrings layered rose cuts over brilliant-cut pink diamonds for even more colorful reflections, Mr. Downing said, “creating a tiny world under each rose cut.”

Stacking colors has long been a hallmark at Pomellato, so the Italian jeweler marked the 20th anniversary of its signature Nudo collection by doubling and tripling colored gemstones. Among the effects were fine layers of sky blue topaz, turquoise and mother-of-pearl combined for a muted blue while transparent white topaz was fused to mother-of-pearl for a creamy look.

A Cindy Chao dragonfly brooch with diamonds and emeralds.

Jewelers say one of the greatest challenges in stacking is achieving a standard millimeters-thin spacing between stones, to avoid scratches. But the gaps also add dimension to designs — as in Cindy Chao’s new sculptural dragonfly brooch, with large diamonds and emeralds sitting above a mélange of pavé diamonds, tsavorites, sapphires, demantoids and color-changing alexandrites.

The gaps among the large and pavé stones ultimately created soft, blended colors, said Ms. Chao, depending on how the viewer looks at the gem. “You will see a lot of green and blue through the blank spaces,” the Taiwanese designer said, “while other times you’ll only see a very bright spectrum of light reflecting off the top layer diamonds, which amplifies the blue and green tints below.”

Kaleidoscope indeed.


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