At 150, Piaget Still Knows How To Party

GRAZIA Singapore’s Editor-in-Chief Pakkee Tan discovers the brand’s new Essence of Extraleganza high jewellery collection in Paris

2024 marks legendary Swiss luxury maison Piaget’s 150th anniversary, and it is not keeping quiet, marking this milestone anniversary with a new high jewellery collection, Essence of Extraleganza, that, true to its name (“extraleganza” is the brand’s portmanteau for extravagance tempered with elegance), dazzles with its display of technical know‑how in both jewellery‑making and watchmaking, and a glittering array of precious stones.

At its unveiling in the Napoleonic‑era Palais Brongniart in Paris this June, it is clear from the pieces showcased that the collection’s aesthetic harks back to the zenith of Piaget’s design creativity—the 1960s and ’70s, a brand storyteller tells us as we walk through the exhibition—and is an homage to Yves Piaget, the president of the company, who was instrumental in cementing the brand’s status among the jet set and glitterati during those decades. “I started building these exchanges as some artists, painters or sculptors do, who present their work directly to collectors,” he once said of his approach. “I wanted to show that our watches and jewellery are real works of art, and that the people who make them are real artists.”

Recalling the brand’s heady days of glamour, the new high jewellery pieces directly reflect the oeuvre of the Piaget universe from those eras in their bold colour, daring creativity, masterful goldwork, dynamism and uniquely artistic flair. “My inspiration was the savoir faire of the maison,” shares Piaget’s product design director Stéphanie Sivrière, when we sat down for an interview following the press walkthrough.. “The expertise of the maison is in high jewellery and watch‑jewellery, and I wanted to combine the two for the collection.”

GRAZIA Singapore’s Editor-in-Chief Pakkee Tan at the Essence of Extraleganza high jewellery exhibition in Paris. Photo: Pakkee Tan

This combination can be clearly seen in one of the standout pieces that takes pride of place in the collection: the Swinging Sautoir, featuring a pendant watch with a 29mm yellow gold case, within which sits a manufacture quartz movement, and a turquoise dial. “For me, it’s very Piaget because it’s both a necklace and a watch,” says Sivrière of the piece, pointing out the vibrant combination of green malachite and blue turquoise, the distinctive addition of a watch, and the use of precious stones such as the cushion‑cut aquamarine and cushion‑cut yellow sapphire on the necklace.

This Swinging Sautoir is the perfect combination of Piaget’s design hallmarks, says product design director Stéphanie Sivrière. Photo: Pakkee Tan

Colour, another hallmark of Piaget, is expressed most daringly through the gems used in its jewellery—think opal, lapis lazuli, turquoise, malachite and tiger’s eye, along with the requisite diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires.

A striking instance of the brand’s matchless use of colour: an intricately wrought pink gold necklace inspired by chain‑mail links, featuring hanging trapeze‑cut cornalines in graduated shades of orange and red, brilliant‑cut diamonds, round-cut yellow sapphires and a cushion‑cut spessartite clocking in at 21.23 carats. The cornalines in the right shades, might I mention, took more than a year to assemble.

The cornalines on this high jewellery necklace took more than one year to assemble. Photo: Pakkee Tan

Something that came as a very pleasant surprise to me in the high jewellery exhibition was the inclusion of some truly fantastic pieces from Piaget’s patrimony collection. Museum-worthy pieces such as pop artist Andy Warhol’s personal Piaget timepiece, Jacqueline Kennedy’s watch featuring a jade dial, and Salvador Dalí’s highly coveted collaboration with the brand were just some memorable pieces that reinforced the brand’s rich legacy as a player among the rich and famous. It was also great fun to spot the echoes of the archival pieces and their influence on the current collection.

Capping off the celebrations, guests were whisked off to a gala dinner at Hôtel de Maisons, an 18th century hôtel particulier that once belonged to a French nobleman, and subsequently, Karl Lagerfeld, a brand executive told me. Starry members of the current Piaget Society—including global brand ambassadors Apo Nattawin (who still gamely attended the party after a bad fall at the Opéra Garnier earlier in the day) and Lee Jun-ho, as well as China brand ambassador Tong Yao, face of the brand Ella Richards, and actresses Rosamund Pike and Ellie Bamber—mingled with an international set of the good and glamorous within the ornately gilded walls of the townhouse and out on its well manicured grounds.

Following an exquisite dinner of vanilla langoustine, chicken prepared two ways and a delightful peach dessert, paired with a 2020 Meursault Grands Charrons and a 2016 Moulin La Lagune, the night ends on a high note with the iconic American music group Sister Sledge rallying the crowd with its top hits, including He’s the Greatest Dancer and We Are Family.

A delectable meal was served at the Piaget 150th anniversary gala dinner. Photo: Pakkee Tan

“It was such an incredible night!” Richards enthuses as we sit down at Hôtel Lutetia for a quick coffee the following morning. Incredible is right—with its Essence of Extraleganza collection, Piaget is proving that it is ready to take its turn in the limelight for a new era‑defining chapter in its history.


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