Cuffs, Bracelets and Bangles Offer A Maximalist Style Statement At De Beers, Buccellati and Cindy Chao The Art Jewel Working Diamonds and Designs

Cuffing season? Bracelets and bangles encrusted with white diamonds, fancy coloured diamonds and other precious gems, set in 18k gold. Delicately designed high jewellery cuffs follow the natural curvature of the human body, making them comfortable to the wearer, with a look jeweller Anna Hu describes as ‘soft, organic and fluid. They are accessories that instantly elevate a look from day to play.
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There’s a time and a place for understated accessories, but high jewellery offers an alternative: the chance to make a statement. “More than ever, jewellery is a way of making a statement about your personal style,” says Céline Assimon, CEO of De Beers Jewellers. And how to shout that the loudest?

“When you wear a diamond cuff – unlike when you wear earrings or a necklace – you can see it on your wrist. You can touch it and feel its power and protection,” she adds.

Anna Hu Enchanted Lily Collection bangle

“Cuff creations have indeed gained popularity among collectors in recent years,” concurs Hong Kong-based jewellery artist Cindy Chao, founder of Cindy Chao The Art Jewel. “I believe it’s because bracelets worn on the wrist carry a sense of substance, are highly conspicuous and can accentuate one’s personality.”

Buccellati’s creative director, Andrea Buccellati, agrees. “I think [bracelets] are prominent because they’re like a dress: once you wear one, you’re ready to go anywhere,” he says of the endurance of wrist accessories in high jewellery collections.

Metamorphosis by De Beers collection, Winter Bracelet

He has designed a range of flexible bracelets and cuffs for the maison’s most recent collection, Mosaic. “The inspiration came from the geometric decorations of certain glass tesserae that make up some important Italian mosaics, which I enriched with a clear note of colour, using emeralds,” Buccellati explains.

With their fixed, firm shape, cuffs may at first appear rigid. When delicately designed however, their shape follows the natural curvature of the human body. Buccellati adds that the fixed shape poses no restrictions to the creative process. “Our knowledge of goldsmithing techniques allows us to [adapt] our imagination and creativity … to the surfaces of the objects we produce, be they rings, bracelets, brooches or earrings,” he says. “There are no limits.”

Buccellati Macri Classica Cuff Bracelet

Taiwan-born cellist-turned-jeweller Anna Hu echoes these sentiments: “Every piece of jewellery is a very intimate part of the human body – soft, organic and fluid,” she says.

Hu doesn’t see cuffs and bangles as restrictive design forms, as most of her designs are bespoke, custom pieces for collectors. Rather, she says, “The continuous back-and-forth communication between the wearer and our French ateliers is essential to ensure [that everything] from design details to the creative process – including size measurements, waxing, moulding and polishing – are made to satisfy the wearer’s utmost comfort level.”

Anna Hu Enchanted Lily Collection bangle

Hu’s recent creation, the Enchanted Lily bangle, is a case in point. The piece was exhibited at the European Fine Art Foundation and Paris Haute Couture Week. Rich in symbolism, the design is a deeply personal one for Hu.

The flower is “a lyrical link between East and West, and represents my own life, influences and inspirations, paying homage to both my Chinese roots and life experience in the United States”, the designer explains. “The lily was my mother’s favourite flower and vases of lilies were a constant presence in the house.”

Metamorphosis by De Beers collection, Autumn Bangle

The Enchanted Lily bangle’s stamens are set in rock crystal-infused yellow enamel and a mixture of brass and 18k white gold, with hand-painted green enamel creating an aged effect.

For Cindy Chao, cuffs and bangles provide the ideal platform for free artistic expression. “The shape of a cuff or bangle is like a canvas. As a jewellery artist, I use various colours and gemstones of different sizes to paint on this canvas,” she says.

Anna Hu Enchanted Lily Collection bangle

But unlike a two-dimensional canvas, Chao’s pieces are flexible and versatile. “Some of my cuff creations incorporate intricate mechanical joints, allowing them to fold completely flat,” she explains.

The Spring Riverside bangle from the 2023 Black Label Masterpiece collection is Chao’s most recent piece. The bangle features 10 striking pink sapphires and is embellished with white and yellow diamonds, pink, purple, grey-green and orange sapphires, garnets, tsavorites, tourmalines and Paraiba tourmalines. The gemstones are set in 18k white, yellow and rose gold. Chao drew inspiration for the design “from the serene beauty of the Seine River, capturing the reflective allure of the riverside scenery”.

Cuffing season: high jewellery artists – including at De Beers, Buccellati and Cindy Chao The Art Jewel – make bold statements with diamond-studded bracelets and cuffs. Pictured: Metamorphosis by De Beers collection, Summer Bracelet. Photos: Handout

De Beers have turned their attention to diamond-encrusted bangles and cuffs time and again, demonstrating the enduring nature of the jewellery form. The jewellers’ latest high jewellery collection, Metamorphosis, expresses the transformation and evolution seen in the natural world and the seasons. One of Assimon’s favourite pieces in the collection, the Summer bracelet is an ornate cuff etched in yellow gold, set with an array of white diamonds of different cuts.

“It was expertly engineered to follow the curvature of the arm [and be] comfortable to the wearer,” she says. “It’s been fitted with a spring mechanism that connects each of the elements together to allow the bracelet to expand and contract, gliding on and off the wrist with ease,” Assimon continues, adding that extraordinary goldsmithing skills are involved in the piece’s creation.

Metamorphosis by De Beers collection, Autumn Bangle

The versatile form allows room for creative expression, for bold statements to be made and for the wearer to enjoy a piece of jewellery that provides a natural extension of the body’s own delicate curves.

While cuffs and bangles are gaining increasing attention and embellished designs continue to make a strong statement, Buccellati asserts that this shouldn’t be seen as a passing trend. “We don’t follow trends,” he says, adding that the maison aims to remain faithful to “using traditional techniques and relying on craftsmen who are true masters of their art”.

There you have it – whatever your relationship status, it’s officially cuffing season.

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