I just saw this post for the Couture Jewelry Award and sale - and I
am wondering how my fellow orchidians define couture jewelry. To me -
it means one of a kind. Anyone else out there have an opinion on the
definition of Couture Jewelry? I am taking it to mean the same as Art
Jewelry, but would love your thoughts. Looks like a great event and
lord knows we need a new breath of fresh air into jewelry shows. I am
pretty tired of the craft thing.
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?
I am a new member and have never participated in this forum’s
discussions although I enjoyed reading some of its threads.
I am Swiss and French is my mother tongue, I will therefore jump in
now, if I may, with regards to the meaning of “couture jewelry”.
“Couture jewelry” really translates into fashion jewelry of the
highest quality and standard made using a wide range of materials,
in fact both precious and semi-precious stones can be used, as well
as precious metals such as gold but also steel and silver. Couture
jewelry was first introduced by famous clothes’ designers such as
Chanel and Dior, hence the name “couture”. Usually the designs are
striking in style and follow a particular trend of the moment or can
even reproduce vintage jewelry. “Haute joiaillerie” on the other
hand only refers to “high end jewelry” such as Cartier, Tiffany,
Haute Joaillier" which means "High Jeweler" or basically High End
Jewelry (just as I've heard people sometimes refer to the fancy,
I passed on this yesterday, because I don’t really know the answer,
but I guess it’s true that Couture is actually short for Haute
Couture. In jewelry there are some fairly informal levels of work -
“Fashion”, High-End, and “High jewelry” are often used. High Jewelry
would be the Haute Couture of the jewelry world. And yes value is
tied to it. High jewelry generally means work in 6 figures and often
into 7 - million dollar pieces that are also gorgeous and high
Tiffany’s is “High-End”. Graff is “High Jewelry”. Of course there is
no real answer, and different people will have a different take on
it. Someone here wanted a “Large Diamond” - you know, like a 1 ct.
Well to most a “Large Diamond” is more like 25 carats, but that’s
Couture is elitist. With good reason. Sophisticated in design,
concept and appeal, it separates itself from the great majority of
jewelry. It caters to a social strata that values a certain
intangible uniqueness, not for its own sake, but for the special
character of its identity.
Its not merely high end, there’s plenty of expensive, but common,
bling washes mouth out on the market and look who wears it. And
THAT is the point. What it confers upon the wearer. or strives to.
It’s a marketing position.
Now how do I distance myself from the snobbery tone of that