Jewelry & Watches

The Town & Country Jewelry Awards

The new masters and reigning champions who marked the year in jewels.
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In our second annual Jewelry Awards, our panel of designers, collectors, editors, and influencers recognize the top talent in 12 different categories, celebrating the care and craft with which every piece of jewelry is made and the industry champions who have made this such an exceptional year. Here at T&C, which has covered the jewelry world for close to two centuries, we believe there has never been more talent in the field than there is right now.

Breakthrough Designer of the Year: Emmanuel Tarpin


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Tarpin founded his atelier last year at the age of 25, and already editors are making the pilgrimage to Paris to discover the new superjeweler. It's easy to see why. A sculptor by training, the French designer takes an artistic approach to his work, producing only a few superlative pieces a year. Each is an optical illusion, a sublime, nature-inspired piece that mesmerizes with depth, texture, and color.

Emmanuel Tarpin Paraiba, Tourmaline, Diamond, and Cast Aluminum Earrings ($63,000), Lee Siegelson, 212-832-2666.

Legend of the Year: Van Cleef & Arpels


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Jacques Arpels, the nephew of co-founder Estelle Arpels, had a knack for finding four-leaf clovers. He introduced the first Alhambra collection in 1968, forever altering the jewelry canon and beguiling everyone from Grace Kelly to Françoise Hardy. Fifty years later, Alhambra fans are a devoted cohort, including Queen Rania of Jordan and today's princess of Monaco, Charlene. As part of the 50th anniversary, Van Cleef released an onyx set with white gold and diamonds, reminiscent of the much-sought-after originals, though other editions, such as gray mother-of-pearl with diamonds in rose gold, and lapis lazuli with diamonds in yellow gold, are equally coveted, and will remain so.

Van Cleef & Arpels Lapis Lazuli and Gold Alhambra Necklaces.

Gold Designer of the Year: Roberto Coin


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Forty years ago Coin fled his career as a hotelier for gold, to master it's secrets and drama. A goldsmithing maverick, he pushed the boundaries of a centuries-old practice with last year's Sauvage Privé. Although his styles range from cheeky animals to delicate showpieces, each is marked by a cherished signature–a single ruby positioned for the wearers eye's only.

Roberto Coin Sauvage Prive Black Jade, Malachite, and Diamond ($8,500, White Gold and Diamond ($16,000) and Black Jade and Diamond ($9,900) Cuffs. Finalists: Vram (Gold, Gray Diamond, and Garnet Ring, $14,000); Judy Geib (Gold and Peridot Necklace, $14,040.)

Collection of the Year: Bulgari Wild Pop


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Nicola Bulgari moved to New York in the early '80s and became the man who decked out Studio 54 and Andy Warhol's factory in opulent stones. He also introduced Parentesi, the bold modular line that upended the notion of high jewelry and defined the decade's aesthetic. Four decades later, creative director Lucia Silvestri recaptured Bulgari's daring joie de vivre in Wild Pop, flaunting oversize rubies, amethysts, peridots, and diamonds with such points of reference as David Bowie and Dynasty, and just a touch of Miami Vice.

Bulgari Wild Pop Rubellite, Citrine, Topaz, and Diamond Necklace (price upon request); Tanzanite, Emerald, and Diamond Brooch (price upon request), 800-BULGARI.

Philanthropic Collection of the Year: Tiffany & Co.


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In gratitude to the continent that produces many of its top stones, Tiffany & Co. created an ongoing philanthropic agenda to support Africa's natural resources. Sustainability at its best, this year's puzzle-piece charms playfully honor endangered species in sterling silver and 18K rose gold– and 100 percent of the profits support the Wildlife Conservation Network.

Tiffany Save the Wild Rose Gold Elephant Charm ($600) and Rose Gold and Silver Lion Charm ($450), Rhino Charm ($450), and Elephant Charm ($450).

Colored Stone Designer of the Year: Chopard


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At the Cannes Film Festival last year, Cate Blanchett wore a pair of titanium orchid earrings brimming with opals, yellow sapphires, and garnets, not to mention 4,800 tsavorites. With the couture collection, which has only one other pair of earrings (equally resplendent in pink and white sapphires), creative director Caroline Scheufele pushed Chopard's jewelry to the forefront of technology and craft– for results worthy of the Croisette.

Chopard Yellow Sapphire, Garnet, and Tsavorite Earrings (price upon request), 800-CHOPARD. Finalists: Irene Neuwirth (One-of-a-kind mixed stone and Diamond Necklace, $128,040). Martin Katz (Paraiba, Sapphire, and Diamond Ring, $325,000). 

Champion of the Year: Lizzie Tisch


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While other children were coloring books, the young Lizzie Tisch was looking at gems with her grandfather, a jeweler. "Jewelry is part of my heritage," she says. "It is the most personal element of one's style." An ardent patron of the Costume Institute at the Met, and the founder of the curated retail venture LTD by Lizzie Tisch, she is a voracious collector of legacy houses such as Maison Lacloche Fréres and JAR and emerging talent like Lauren Adriana. Most important, she wears her pieces often and with gusto.

Jewelry Watch of the Year: Cartier


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Watch aficionados were pleased in 2017 when Cartier reissued the Panthére, a cult masterpiece from the 1980s. But there was a roar of approval—signaled by countless Instagram posts and an instant waitlist—when the house revealed the triple-wrap version last year. Chloë Sevigny wore the bracelet on the red carpet soon after its debut, and a classic was officially back in the spotlight.

Cartier Panthere de Cartier Rose Gold Tripple Loop Bracelet Watch ($43,900).

Diamond Designer of the Year: DeBeers


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The minds behind "A diamond is forever" undoubtedly appreciate the allure of the past. At Couture Week the label displayed the 10-carat Eureka, the first diamond discovered in South Africa, as the source of inspiration for its Legends collection. In a feat of technical wizardry, an array of resplendently colored diamonds, both polished and rough, reimagines four ancient myths, such as that of Ra, the Egyptian sun god (left).

DeBeers Yellow and White Diamond Pendant Necklace (price upon request), DeBeers.com. Finalists: Lugano Diamonds (Yellow and Rose Cut Diamond Cuff, price upon request); Nikos Koulis (White Gold and Diamond Earrings, price upon request).

Pearl Designer of the Year: Mizuki


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The trailblazing designer Mizuki Goltz is a magician with pearls, embedding them with diamonds and stringing them from leather. Insiders breathlessly await her annual capsule, Privé, and she rarely disappoints. Her latest transforms her private collection of Tahitian and South Sea pearls into sculptural marvels, the apex of 20 years of experimentation.

Mizuki White Gold Akoya Pearl, and Diamond Earrings ($27,700), and Black Tahitian Pearl Earrings ($16,800). Finalists: Mikimoto (Akoya Pearl, Alexandrite, and Diamond Bracelet, price upon request); Assael (Pearl and Gold Earrings, $23,500).

Innovator of the Year: Vhernier


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The 20th anniversary of Vhernier's Calla collection demanded creative matchmaking. A white gold setting of stones in different sizes, treated with rhodium for extra sparkle, the Eyeliner Pavé is an irresistible mix of craftsmanship and technology. Calla comes in lapis (shown), ox's eye, aluminum, and hawk's eye.

Vhernier Blue Sapphire and Diamond Earrings ($30,250) and Ring ($42,900), and Blue Sapphire, Lapis, and Diamond Necklace ($100,600), 646-343-9551.

Red Carpet Stylist of the Year: Kate Young


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An evening look can be transformed with a single well-chosen piece of jewelry, and nobody knows this better than the peerless Kate Young, whose clients–Selena Gomez, Margot Robbie, Dakota Johnson, and Michelle Williams–enjoyed some of the year's most talked-about-red carpet moments. "I am not a minimalist, but I like impactful singular pieces," the New York-based stylist says. At one premiere she made Johnson look like Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina with the touch of a Van Cleef & Arpels necklace. Her approach intuitive. "Once the total look is there, I just know it's right," she says. In her personal life, the former editor collects everything from Victorian mourning jewelry to obscure modernist metalwork, with Tiffany's Elsa Peretti collections, Sidney Garber's gold cuffs, Fred Leighton's Georgian diamonds, and Sophie Buhai's pearls in heavy rotation for her clients. "I see jewelry as art–it is much more permanent than fashion."

Forevermark by Premier Gem Yellow Diamond and White Gold Ring (price upon request). Tiffany & Co. Victoria Platinum and Diamond Earrings ($40,000), Schlumberger Gold, Platinum, and Diamond Ring (price upon request).

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This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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