Rock Crystal Edgy Style
24th April 2020
Despite its low value and its common characteristics, rock crystal plays a growing significant role in high jewellery. Over the past decade, established brands gave more and more importance to the mysteriously transparent stone.
Rock crystal belongs to the big quartz family and can be found on all continents with major sources in USA, Switzerland, Brazil, Madagascar, England and India. Because of its abundance, the icy-look gem is very affordable and is not only used for jewellery, but also for decorative objects and useful tools.
Natural rock crystal is most of the time untreated, if irradiated, it will feature a distinctive color. Thanks to its hardness (7 on Mohs scale) and composition it is rather easy to carve and cut rock crystal. This explains why the transparent stone often takes unusual shape in jewelry.
Rough Rough Crystal
Rock crystal is the purest version of quartz, it is colorless and can be either completely transparent when flawless, or translucent to opaque if featuring inclusions. Internal fractures can create interesting visual effects such as light refraction and uncommon body patterns. If the inclusions are rutile needles then the stone will be called rutilated quartz, and if there are tourmaline inclusions then its name is tourmalinated quartz.
The colorless quartz is often associated to ice, water and cloud, which become a source of inspiration for jewelry designers. They tend to take advantage of its transparency and clarity to contrast with brilliant stones such as diamonds. The use of rock crystal often creates an edgy look and distinctive style in jewelry.
Among the most popular jewelers, David Webb is the designer using the most rock crystal in his creations. The pure gemstone usually appears carved with curvy lines, creating a bombé aspect for bangles and rings. The American jeweler likes to contrast the transparency of rock crystal with the brilliancy of diamonds and tend to include cabochon cut stones. The particularity of Webb’s jewelry is its important volume and the permanent Art Déco style that is expressed through geometric and symmetric shapes. David Webb definitely appears as a daring and disruptive jeweler who breaks the jewelry conventions to offer statement pieces for powerful women.
Rock Crystal Jewels, by David Webb. Legends on pictures.
The fashion French Maison repeatedly presented the transparent stone in its high jewellery collections. In 2013, Sous le Signe du Lion collection highlighted the majestic animal carved in rock crystal in several creations. In 2016, Signature de Chanel collection exhibited the Cocoon necklace with a rectangular shape rock crystal weighting more than 16 carats. The matching earrings and ring were also available. Chanel mostly opted for stones with inclusions, needles and clouds that create a deep and edgy effect.
Rock Crystal Jewels, by Chanel. Legends on pictures.
In a more traditional spirit, Boucheron unveiled a one-of-a-kind high jewelry collection based on the major use of rock crystal. Launched in 2017, Hiver Impérial is inspired by the mysterious icy landscapes and frozen wildlife that are perfectly represented by the frosty look of rock crystal. The refined pieces reproduce delicate snowflakes playing with the diamonds’ duality. One of the most emblematic creations of the collection is the versatile Flocon necklace from which, ring, earrings, hair pieces and brooch can be detached and worn separately. The French jeweler also created new and uncommon designs with rock crystal domes and balls. The iconic snow globe is reinterpreted with diamonds flakes in the Boule à Neige ring. The Crystal de Lune creation is an impressive jewellery watch with a voluminous dome protecting a diamond bird.
Part of the Paris Vu du 26 collection, Boucheron unveiled in 2019 the Cheval de l’Opera bangle: a double horse head depicted with smoky white rock crystal.
Rock Crystal Jewels, by Boucheron. Legends on pictures.
Cartier started considering rock crystal during the Art Déco period and used it as slices and carvings. It was specifically integrating in buckle brooch and long sautoir. These past years, the high jewellery collection offered numerous outstanding creations mixing rock crystal with various precious and fine stones such as emerald, tanzanite and rubellite. The transparent gem often appears protecting the dial in the jewellery watches, and as the base and case of mystery clocks. Most recently, the set Théia, part of 2019 the Magnitude high jewellery collection, features cut rock crystal that echoes the Colombian emeralds shape. Associated with onyx, the modern Art Déco jewels are vibrating through a graphic design recalling the codes of kinetic art.
Rock Crystal Jewels, by Cartier. Legends on pictures.
Other world-recognized jewelers gave a chance to rock crystal for a few of their high-end creations. Among them, the iconic necklace of Wallace Chan featuring rock crystal discs alternated with diamond and chalcedony hoops (presented by Sotheby’s in 2018). Back in 2014, Chaumet also made a statement with is Lumières d’Eau set composed of opaque quartz.
In a more playful and accessible offer, Vhernier creates original pieces jewels with bold lines, voluminous shapes, smooth and curvy surface.