For Cristina, a managing director at an investment bank in London, resetting the engagement ring her husband gave her 14 years before was a no-go. Yet she craved a jewel more versatile and fun on her hand for everyday wear. She found the answer in a bespoke party jacket created by the goldsmith Sabine Roemer that, via a highly engineered matching gem-set ring, flanked the original round brilliant with trillion-cut (ie triangle-shape) stones, creating a cooler, more rakish look.
“The jacket gave a new life to my ring, allowing me to wear it from boardrooms to cocktail parties,” says Cristina.
A party jacket is a gem-set jewel that dresses up an existing ring, and which brands both big and small are adding to their repertoire for enhanced wearability. At the high jewellery collections in January, the ne plus ultra of jewellery collections that are presented to VIP clients during Paris couture, Chaumet showed an asymmetrical and transformable 6.05-carat diamond ring that parlayed the collection’s theme of crashing waves, the centre stone seeming to splash into a swell of stones, fashioned from various cuts — and which could be removed for a more classic look.
Meanwhile, Boucheron’s collection was inspired by modern maharajas and featured a standout rock crystal ring topped with a cushion-cut diamond — its traditional, floral motif instantly turning rock ‘n’ roll when worn with the jacket of rock crystal petals either side, creating a punk, knuckle duster piece.
Also known as guard rings or enhancers, ring jackets have roots in 18th-century “keeper rings”, which rose in popularity to protect centre solitaire stones — especially softer ones such as emeralds — or to keep them from slipping off.
“In style, they were quite simple, usually gold, enamelled or gem-set, and worn on one or either side of the solitaire,” says Josephine Odet, head of buying and client services at vintage jewellery etailer Omnēque. Ring jackets became more stylised in the Art Deco period — as well as more engineered, with centre rings designed to seamlessly slide in and out.
“When you invest half a million, million or a few million dollars in an exceptional diamond, you want flexibility,” says Céline Assimon, CEO at De Beers Jewellers. De Beers first began making jackets, which it calls “crowns”, several years ago for VIP clients who had purchased exceptional stones.
In January, its Light Rays high jewellery collection highlighted a rare 1.08-carat orange-yellow diamond, in a cool square emerald-cut, with a bold crown of black rhodium-plated gold punctuated with orange, yellow and silver titanium strands that fan down the finger. Evoking the rays of the sun, the jacket can be worn in three ways: either the ring or jacket alone, or full frontal as a pair.
“You can play with colour,” says Assimon of the options. “Or you can add movement; it’s like wearing feathers.”
The company channelled the same motif in the 15.10-carat “De Beers Blue”, the largest fancy vivid blue diamond ever offered at auction, and which hammered down in April at Sotheby’s Hong Kong for $57.5mn. To highlight the stone’s rarity, De Beers created a dramatic jacket that set the stone rakishly horizontal above a plumage of blue titanium and diamonds.
Not only incredible stones deserve a crown, however. De Beers’ feminine Dewdrop collection features a platinum crown ring (£2,850) that can be stacked with a simple one-carat engagement ring for extra sparkle — or worn alone for an edgier look.
“Everybody wants something that shows a little edge or bit of transgression,” says Assimon. “We are finding creative ways to wear engagement rings in a more fashion-forward way.”
On Valentine’s Day the eponymous jeweller Annoushka Ducas unveiled a collection of 10 one-of-a-kind rings, each with a two-piece jacket that tops and tails a centre stone (from £10,000). Made in recycled gold, the designs have an air of old Hollywood glamour, with their tactile, warm tones offset by dazzling jackets of baguette-cut stones, such as a 2.3-carat brown tourmaline framed by layers of white diamonds, or a jacket of 66 pink sapphires that hosts a 5.03-carat aquamarine and white diamonds. With rounded edges, they’re ideal for stacking, and feel less wedded to being strictly engagement rings.
“Rings are one of the few bits of jewellery that you can really admire on yourself as a woman,” says Ducas, who designed the jackets to hug either one or both sides of the centre ring, inviting wearers to play and experiment. “It might literally be just to dress up a pair of jeans: white shirt, jeans and a super cool cocktail ring — that’s it, you’re ready to go. I don’t think life is about occasionwear any more.”
The goldsmith Roemer has noticed more requests for bespoke jackets, especially from women purchasing for themselves who want to alter — but still keep — sentimental but very classic engagement rings.
“They want to create that passion piece to wear every day, to dress up their ring and show their personality,” she says. A cool diamond star jacket instantly modernised a historic pigeon ruby Tiffany ring belonging to one client. A burst of blue sapphires injected colour into another diamond solitaire, the design echoing one of Roemer’s high jewellery flower gems.
“With the jacket, the client could always wear her engagement ring but shake it up as she wanted — turning it into a cocktail ring, or a more understated piece for lunch or when travelling on the plane,” says Roemer.
The Mayfair-based jeweller Jessica McCormack has long helped clients jazz up unloved rings with jackets, but lately she has observed a sustainable element too. “These days it feels good to not just be buying new all the time and instead elevating and investing in something that you already love,” says McCormack. “And if it has sentimental value, even better.”
Her jackets channel various eras. A New York party jacket transforms a solitaire into a strong and architectural Art Deco piece. Geographic Hex rings surround a centre stone or can be worn on their own. “It’s completely modern with the use of negative space — and a very good ‘changeling’ design,” says McCormack. “It gives a kind of versatility that you don’t always find with jewellery.”
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