Complete Guide to Collecting High Jewelry or Haute Joaillerie

By Annabelle Pollack
Shop a curated selection of High Jewelry pieces.

What is High Jewelry

"High Jewelry is the Haute Couture of the jewelry world" according to jewelry historian Vivienne Becker. The top luxury fashion houses like Chanel have both ready to wear and couture collections. While ready to wear is intended to be mass market, couture pieces are customized for the buyer. Top jewelry brands like Van Cleef and Arpels, Cartier and Harry Winston also have their fine jewelry collections with mass market designs like the Cartier LOVE or Van Cleef Alhambra. The High jewelry pieces by Van Cleef and Cartier can be truly bespoke one of one piece or a customized high jewelry design. While High Jewelry is almost always more expensive than fine jewelry, price isn't the most important factor.

High jewelry is characterized by the quality and size of the diamonds and gemstones selected in addition to the overall design of the piece. Other important attributes of High Jewelry include rarity of the piece, craftsmanship and skill needed to create the piece and innovation or imagination that went into the design. The finishing and polishing also differentiates a High jewelry piece versus more mass market fine jewelry. A skilled craftsman can spend hundreds of hours to complete a High Jewelry piece. Only the most skilled artisans design, create and finish High jewelry pieces.

Van Cleef High Jewelry

Collecting High Jewelry

One reason to collect High Jewelry is these pieces retain and in many cases even gain value over time. High jewelry is like wearable art that won't depreciate like most couture fashion pieces. Collecting High jewelry is a passion for those that love rare diamonds and gem stones. High jewelry pieces are a reflection of their provenance and heritage but aren't trend driven. The enduring value of High jewelry is in part due to the quality and rarity of the stones and materials.

Some of the most incredible High Jewelry pieces were seen all over social media during the three day pre-wedding celebration for Anant Ambini and Radhika Merchant. The Ambani family's High jewelry collection includes some of the rarest and most precious stones in the world. The jewelry collection of Nita Ambani, Isha Ambani and Shloka Ambani is potentially valued in the billions of dollars. Nita Ambani gifted Shloka Ambani the L’Incomparable Diamond Necklace. This necklace features the world’s largest internally flawless diamond, a 407.48 carat step-cut yellow diamond, suspended from a 229.52 carat white diamond necklace, and intertwined with 18-karat rose gold branchlets. The rose gold chain is adorned with 91 other diamonds, totaling another 200 carats with an estimated value of over $55 million.

High Jewelry
Nita Mukesh Ambani

During the recent pre-wedding festivities, Nita Ambani wore an impressive emerald and diamond necklace that featured two massive slab-like emerald stones. Sister of the groom, Isha Ambani also wore statement making emerald ring, earrings and a dramatic necklace. Not surprisingly Isha wore Couture Chanel with her High Jewelry during the festivities.

High Jewelry Necklace Bvlgari

Sotheby's High Jewelry

Sotheby's sells High Jewelry in it's Live jewelry Auctions in Hong Kong, New York and Geneva. High Jewelry is also available for private sale and on Sotheby's Buy Now marketplace. If you would like to learn more about collecting High Jewelry or would like an estimate for a High Jewelry piece you can contact a Sotheby's Jewelry Specialist.

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