The Comeback of the Pear, Marquise and Baguette
As the focus in the jewellery world shifts further towards craftsmanship, there’s growing appreciation for the craft of gemstone-cutting. This has fuelled the huge trend for what we at Swarovski call “GEM-ARCHITECTURE”, in which the cut and shape of a gemstone play a vital role in both the design and construction of a jewel. Three cuts in particular - all early classic diamond and gemstone cuts - have been revived to play their part in this contemporary design direction: the pear-shape, the marquise and the baguette. Each has a strong silhouette, a distinct personality and each too has a history and heritage.
The pear-shape, a mix of a round brilliant and a marquise cut, adds fluidity, sensuality and movement to a jewel. While modern in style and character, it can be traced back to the beginnings of mechanical diamond cutting, in the 15th century. It became hugely popular in the 17th and 18th centuries, when the then fashionable chandelier earrings were hung with three faceted pendant drops, to glimmer, seductively in candlelight. The modern pear-shaped gemstone was refined in the early years of the 20th century, when huge advances were made in gemstone-cutting techniques. It was also very popular during the Belle Epoque; and today, the pear-shape has once again captured the imagination, as an expression of beauty and femininity, made modern and given a youthful zest as the stone of choice for celebrity engagement rings, as worn by stars including Ariana Grande and the actress and model, Emily Ratajkowski.
The marquise, evocative of aristocratic elegance, builds dynamic petal-like patterns. It is a pointed oval or elliptical shape sometimes called a navette because of its boat shape and was said to have been inspired by the luscious lips of the Marquise de Pompadour, the celebrated mistress of King Louis XV of France. As with the pear-shape, the marquise was refined in the early 20th century, and has gone in and out of fashion since that time. It was revived to spectacular effect by Harry Winston in the 1960s, when it became an essential component of his signature “wreath” designs, part of his concept of “floating diamonds” that looked as if they floated, weightlessly, with minimal metal settings. Winston knew that, in a ring, the marquise, then as now, elongates the finger. Now, once again, the pointed, petal-shaped marquise has come back into fashion especially for coloured gems, its slender, elegant silhouette highlighting colour, hue, light and life.
The baguette, too, can be traced back to the early days of gemstone-cutting in the 15th century, and was used extensively in the Renaissance, a time of experimentation and development of stone cutting. The rectangular shape was used to make up complex amuletic or allusive motifs, or to form letters. Once again, the modern baguette was perfected in the early 20th century, around 1912, benefiting from advanced technology. It appeared at just the right time to create the new abstract, geometric, graphic jewellery designs of the Art Deco style of the 1920s. Baguettes, diamonds and coloured gemstones, especially sapphires and rubies, were set end to end, tracing angular motifs and crisp, sharp outlines. In the 1950s, the baguette became the defining feature of sophisticated all-diamond jewels, forming swirls, twirls and tumbling torrents of light, cascading from twisting diamond knots. In the 21st century, the baguette has come into its own once again, its shape often adapted, tapered or elongated, to inject vitality and versatility, as well as texture and pattern into modern designs.
Today, the three important historic, vintage fancy gemstone cuts and shapes are reborn in Zirconia and Topaz from Swarovski and have become vital components of contemporary international design. At the same time, the skills of the Swarovski master cutters make today’s vital connection between artistry and craftsmanship: the perfectly cut stone is the ultimate in cutting edge.
Based on an article by Vivienne Becker for Swarovski Gem Visions Autumn / Winter 2019
Illustrations by Frédéric Mané
Fotocredits Jewelry Pieces: Amy Exports & Imports; Basra Jewels