5 Foolproof Valentine's Day Gifts

By Caragh McKay
From the classic diamond tennis bracelet to a Cartier Tank watch, our pick of precious love tokens comes in a variety of brilliant forms.
Close up of woman's wrist with Cartier Tank watch, diamond bracelet, and diamond engagement ring

The Cartier Ring

Of all precious love tokens, none encapsulates the myriad phases of love more joyfully than a Cartier ring. From the classic Cartier Love ring to opulent heirloom engagement solitaires, the French jeweler continues to embrace both the extraordinary and traditional in its own inimitable way. Collectors with a keen eye for design will delight in the yellow-gold 1990s variations of the Cartier Panthère rings with onyx wildcat motifs, while vintage Cartier Bombé rings – a voluptuous dome-shaped design first seen in the Jazz Age – will delight anyone seeking a gem-set ring with just the right presence for everyday but with enough sparkle to offset simple eveningwear. Cartier has returned time and again to the bombé ring, with each new iteration reflecting something of the moment. The 1990s Trinity Bombé, for instance, brought a new sensuousness to the 1920s triple-link design.

The Van Cleef & Arpels Bracelet

Brimming with poetry, notions of luck and the wonder of movement, Van Cleef & Arpels’ bracelets are meticulously crafted to charm and delight at every turn. Classics, such as the Lucky Alhambra bracelet, a dainty wrist chain bedecked with hardstone and mother-of-pearl motifs, and the Van Cleef & Arpels Perlée gold-bead and diamond-clover bangle, remain among the most coveted fine jewelry designs of all time. The Place Vendôme jeweler’s Link bracelets are another recurring motif in the brand’s oeuvre, showing off the magical goldsmithing that also makes Van Cleef & Arpels’ designs so celebrated and sought after. All the more so when the gold is intertwined with turquoise cabochons, creating a bracelet style that’s been a favorite with leading style setters for decades such as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Cate Blanchett.

The Tennis Bracelet

A simply subtle design originating in the early 20th century, the humble line bracelet, a single strand of claw-set diamonds with an “invisible” clasp, was awarded mythical status in the mid 1970s when it was awarded a popular rebrand as the tennis bracelet. Why tennis? While competing during 1978’s US Open, American tennis champion Chris Evert’s diamond line bracelet dropped off her wrist. She famously paused the game to search for it while TV audiences across the globe waited for play to resume. Unable to withstand the rigors of a pro tennis game, the bracelet clasp had snapped during play leading savvy jewelers to create their own versions with “tennis-proof” clasps. Today, the classic fluid form of the tennis bracelet makes it the ultimate no-fuss diamond bracelet, a sweet alternative to an engagement ring or a perennially stylish gift.

The Diamond Watch

The intricacies of setting gemstones into watches demand rare skills, which is why these opulent watches only appear in low number editions and limited production numbers. Showstoppers aside, the pure nature of classic designs in smaller wrist sizes, such as the Patek Philippe World Time, are beautifully heightened with a subtle hint of sparkle from its white diamond-set bezel. The iconic Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day-Date, meanwhile, goes a step further with 10 gold-framed diamond-set hour indices. And, because just two of them are diamond baguettes – the 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock markers – this jeweled version of a collector’s favorite takes on a singular character all its own. A sportier, everyday jewel option is, of course, a white-gold Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. From shard-slim diamond indices to a fully pavéd bezel highlighted with pink sapphires and rubies, it proves why precious stones and watchmaking have always been a natural fit.

The Cartier Tank

Its design was inspired by the dual-track form of a First World War armored vehicle and its launch, in 1918, heralded one of the first-ever wristwatch designs for men. Yet, the classic Cartier Tank soon developed a following with chic independent women drawn to its elegant Art Deco form. To date, Cartier has introduced worthy variations on the original Tank, of which the Tank Française, a sporty metal bracelet design, has become increasingly covetable – former First Lady Michelle Obama is regularly seen wearing a steel bracelet Tank Française while Meghan, Duchess of Sussex has a gold Cartier Tank Française, formerly owned by Diana, Princess of Wales and given to her by the Duke of Sussex. During her early days as an actress, she also wore a bi-metal version of the same model. Vintage editions of the 1970s fashion-oriented Tank Must, meanwhile, became so sought after that Cartier relaunched the design in various precious iterations in 2021. And for a supremely elegant evening watch, the diamond-pavé Privée Tank Américaine Cintrée “Paris Dial” is as handsome a timepiece as you are ever likely to find.

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