You bring up a good question and one that I've been curious about
for some time as well.
Technically - and I admit my knowledge of the French language is
extremely limited - but I believe the more proper term should be
"Haute Joaillier" which means "High Jeweler" or basically High End
Jewelry (just as I've heard people sometimes refer to the fancy,
high quality restaurants as providing Haute Cuisine). The term
"Haute Couture" actually means High end clothing, though I readily
admit that Couture is now used as a common way of denoting high end,
custom, or unique (i.e. couturejeweler.com) items so the fact that
it's technically improper French has now been made more or less
irrelevant to the general population (though I'm sure there would be
some who disagree with that statement).
In that sense, to me Couture (or Haute) jewelry would be something
that uses the best quality stones, workmanship, materials to create
a piece of jewelry that has a certain design/fashion "soul" to it. A
piece that is physically beautiful to my eye - yet for some reason
"demands" to be seen and worn. It can be bold, it can be
understated/minimalist, it can use everything from diamonds to smoky
quartz - so it don't need to use expensive materials (just high
quality) or be a physically large "loud" piece of jewelry but it
still needs to have a fire inside that attracts me to it.
Now the interesting aspect is that I've learned (via wikipedia) that
the Term Haute Couture is technically a protected term (like
champagne) in France.
Basically meaning that unless one meets certain qualifications - one
can not technically call their clothing Haute Couture. The question
is: does the same thing apply to referring to one's self as a Haute
Joaillier or Couture Jewelry? Not that I can tell so far - but then
again, I am definitely not a lawyer so please don't base anything on
my limited knowledge. Not sure if anyone else in the Orchid universe
knows about the legality/regulations on that?