At times, jewelry can transcend mere fashion and reach the status of high art. The following international designers consistently deliver their wares with such unpredictable ingenuity and stylistic acumen that they leave critics and consumers equally speechless. Behold, the top ten highest rated jeweler designers currently dazzling the world stage.
The Costis brand was officially established in 1994 in the land of piazzas and pizzas. The key element that Costis employs in their designs is the concept of the ‘everyday turned fantastical.’ An ordinary pencil is transformed into a gem encrusted bracelet. A fish monger’s barnacle laden net becomes a bizarrely fascinating and chic necklace. Two kiwi slices are transmogrified into deliciously gilded earrings, while a skyscraper decadently descends to wrap around your index finger. Whatever the commonplace inspiration, the pieces emerge as anything but ordinary.
Autore has done a fabulous job of carving out a very specific and eye-catching niche for themselves. They are the go-to designer for all pieces featuring the pulchritudinous pearl. The signature element of their earrings, rings, necklaces and more, is this singular and most sought after treasure of the sea. The pearls they showcase are not simply white, but come in a wide array of exotic and mixed colors. Black pearls and south sea pearls are beautiful in their own right, but are brought to new levels of comely opulence when featured in Autore jewelry.
Efva Attling, Stockholm
This Swedish designer brings an elegant and uniquely Nordic look to all her pieces. There is something simultaneously warm (the bold colored gems) and icy (the sleek silver mountings) inherent to each of her stunning specimens. Born Efva Katarina Attling, she spent a lot of time in the fashion world working as a model before crossing over to design. She also, un-ironically, was in a band called “X Models.” The company motto governing their pieces is “beauty with a thought,” and you can really see how much thought goes into each alluring article.
Founded by the venerated Laurence Graff in 1960, this British jewelry behemoth has not shown any signs of slowing down. Year after year the Graff conglomeration cranks out dynamic and dazzling numbers. Graff is widely regarded as one of the premier designers in the elusive world of deluxe diamond jewelry. Extremely rare and sought after diamonds, from pure whites to fancy vivids, are showcased in the Graff catalogue, a name synonymous with high end design and unlimited class.
Another monster name in the diamond jewelry world, Harry Winston is not afraid to push boundaries in his creations. Having put a new spin on numerous classical looking pieces, from winter-themed, icicle reminiscent earrings to starkly striking, exquisitely contoured multi-colored diamond necklaces, Winston’s modern take on antique structures has been very well received. This chap and his operation seems to be quite magnanimous as well; he coughed up the infamous Portuguese Diamond to the Smithsonian Institute in 1963. Before that he relinquished the Hope Diamond to the very same museum. You know you’re pretty financially sound when you can just give away the darn Hope Diamond.
Van Cleef and Arpels
VC & A have been designing stunning and bold pieces since 1896. Blending a variety of metals and gems in their jewelry, they somehow consistently make wondrously ostentatious works (that would come off as gaudy in the hands of less skilled designers). As their pieces have been flaunted around the world on the likes of the Duchess of Windsor and film darling Grace Kelly, Van Cleef and Arpels has received quite a bit of international publicity. Having famed diamond-ophile Liz Taylor as an unofficial spokesperson didn’t hurt this company either. One of the more mystical design teams on this list, their items often contain wild floral elements, real and imagined creatures and even mischievous and whimsical fairies.
This swank Swiss outfit is known primarily for their luxury watches which just drip diamonds, but are major players in all high end jewelry forms as well. Taking a piaget out of the book of adorable, Georges Edouard Piaget initially crafted a tiny watch workshop in 1874 on the family farm in a little hamlet in the Jura mountains of Switzerland. As the company exploded onto the jewelry scene, they never lost sight of George’s primary goal of supplying superb craftsmanship and highly original designs. Piaget currently owns and operates Geneva’s most massive jewelry workshop (something ole Georgey probably never dreamed of). Their timeless timepieces adorn the wrists of anyone who’s anyone, including Athlete-of-our-Generation, Serena Williams (a testament to how sturdy the watches are too, as Serena wears hers while actually competing).
Leave it to the Romans (or Rome-based designer Bulgari) to concoct a jewelry line that has some pieces which offer unprecedented, sheer regal elegance and others that look almost like the sleek shackles of an ancient (and stylish) prisoner. Their signature, trademarked logo, where their name is spelled out “Bvlgari” (as the Italians of yore did not have a “u” in their alphabet), is as iconic as the brand’s illustrious assortment of pieces. Bulgari boasts one of the most impressive collections of jewelry works which contain (some of) the world’s most sublimely scarce gemstones.
Cartier has never shied away from creating potentially polarizing jewelry parcels. Perhaps it is because they are so highly regarded in the jewelry milieu that they have no qualms about engaging in daring experiments in form. Their famous leopard head ring echoes lustrous Egyptian jewelry of yesteryear, while their “nail” ring embodies quite a funky take on modern design aesthetics. As one of the oldest functioning jewelry companies on the planet (founded in Paris by Louis-Francois Cartier in 1847), Cartier holds a rich tradition of designing jewelry for the world’s most elite clientele, from heads of state to heads of movie studios to celebrity head cases.
The 1860, Swiss-born Chopard dynasty is unanimously held in the highest esteem in the realm of all things jewelry related. Initially focused solely on watchmaking (the Swiss really have been adamant about perfecting watch designs), it wasn’t until over one hundred years after they were founded that they ventured into crafting other types of jewelry. In recent years, Chopard has helped to pioneer the ‘green jewelry movement’ (which doesn’t mean it features just emeralds). The official name given to their program is the somewhat ephemeral sounding “The Journey,” which was established to help create sustainable, fairly mined and assembled jewelry. Hopefully all designers will follow suit in Chopard’s quest to design things that are as beautiful as they are ethically derived.