Since the early days of the last century, transformable jewellery has been the staple of many of the world’s foremost luxury brands. This has seen such luminaries as Cartier, Chaumet and Van Cleef & Arpels create some of the most technically complex items in their long histories.
While popularised in the 20th century, such items first appeared almost 100 years ago, at a time when such inventive jewellery was strictly the province of royalty. With many weighty items worn solely on specific occasions, it fell to a number of regally-approved jewellers to tweak several royal favourites, allowing them to be worn across a variety of different engagements.
This saw items created with mix-and-match reassembly as a fundamental part of the design. It was a conceit that was soon to enter the mainstream. With the aid of clips, clasps and brackets, today’s jewellery-adept buyers can easily transform a large item into several complementary smaller ones, frequently cross-matching them with other styles or marques.
Given their facility for a chameleon-esque shift from mood to mood, occasion to occasion and role to role, it’s not difficult to see why the contemporary woman has such an affinity with these fluid adornments. After all, what better symbol could there be for her own multi-faceted engagement with the demands of 21st-century life?