What Is Considered High Jewelry?

By | March 19, 2024

When it comes to the world of jewelry, there is a select category that stands out for its exquisite craftsmanship, extraordinary design, and dazzling extravagance – high jewelry. But what exactly does it mean to be classified as high jewelry? In this article, we will explore the characteristics and criteria that define this coveted genre, shedding light on the allure and artistry behind these exceptional creations. From rare gemstones to meticulous handwork, get ready to embark on a journey that unveils the secrets of what truly makes jewelry reach the heights of opulence and beauty.

What Is Considered High Jewelry?

See the What Is Considered High Jewelry? in detail.

Definition of High Jewelry

Overview and description

High jewelry, also known as haute joaillerie, refers to luxury jewelry that is crafted with exceptional artistry, using the finest materials and exquisite design. It goes beyond the realm of everyday jewelry, showcasing unparalleled craftsmanship and exceptional attention to detail. High jewelry pieces are often one-of-a-kind or limited-edition creations that are meticulously handcrafted by skilled artisans. They are sought after for their artistic value, rarity, and extraordinary beauty.

Context within the jewelry industry

High jewelry holds a prestigious position within the jewelry industry. It represents the pinnacle of fine jewelry craftsmanship and artistic expression. While other categories of jewelry serve as beautiful adornments, high jewelry transcends mere decoration. It is an art form that combines the creative vision of the designer with the technical skill of the craftsmen to produce extraordinary masterpieces. High jewelry sets the standard for quality, creativity, and excellence within the jewelry industry, often becoming a source of inspiration for other jewelry designers.

Historical Context

Origins of high jewelry

The roots of high jewelry can be traced back to ancient civilizations where precious stones and metals were valued for their rarity and beauty. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans adorned themselves with stunning jewelry pieces crafted with masterful techniques. However, it was during the Renaissance period in Europe that the concept of high jewelry as a distinct art form emerged. Royals, aristocrats, and wealthy patrons commissioned magnificent jewelry to showcase their wealth and social status.

Historical significance

Throughout history, high jewelry has played a significant role in various cultural, religious, and social contexts. It symbolized power, prestige, and wealth, serving as a status symbol for the elite. High jewelry pieces were often gifted to mark momentous occasions such as weddings, coronations, and diplomatic exchanges. They were also cherished heirlooms that passed down through generations, carrying the stories and legacies of the families who owned them.

Famous high jewelers throughout history

Many renowned high jewelers have left an indelible mark on the history of jewelry. One such figure is Charles Lewis Tiffany, who founded Tiffany & Co. in 1837. His innovative designs and introduction of the Tiffany Setting revolutionized the engagement ring industry. Another notable name is Fredéric Boucheron, who established his namesake brand in 1858 and became known for his timeless and elegant creations. Harry Winston, renowned for acquiring and working with exceptional gemstones, and the house of Van Cleef & Arpels, known for their intricate and nature-inspired designs, are also among the most influential high jewelers in history.

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Materials Used in High Jewelry

Use of precious metals

High jewelry is crafted using only the finest quality precious metals, including platinum, gold, and silver. These metals provide a durable and lustrous base for the pieces, ensuring longevity and enchanting aesthetics. Platinum, with its exceptional strength and resistance to tarnish, is particularly favored for its purity and ability to enhance the brilliance of gemstones. Gold, available in different hues such as yellow, white, and rose, adds warmth and versatility to high jewelry designs. Silver, on the other hand, is often used for more intricate and delicate pieces, offering a beautiful contrast against gemstones and adding an air of elegance.

Inclusion of gemstones

Gemstones play a pivotal role in high jewelry, enchanting with their vibrant colors, exceptional clarity, and captivating brilliance. Diamonds, the most coveted gemstones, are often the centerpiece of high jewelry designs, renowned for their unmatched sparkle and enduring value. Other popular gemstones include emeralds, rubies, and sapphires, valued for their depth of color and rarity. High jewelry designers carefully select and ethically source gemstones to ensure their quality and authenticity. These precious gems are often set in intricate arrangements to maximize their allure and create breathtaking visual impact.

Material quality

In high jewelry, quality is of utmost importance. Craftsmen meticulously select materials based on their purity, brilliance, and durability. The precious metals used must meet strict standards of composition and craftsmanship, ensuring that the pieces can withstand the test of time. Similarly, gemstones undergo rigorous evaluation, considering factors such as color, clarity, cut, and carat weight, to ensure they meet the highest standards of excellence. High jewelry demands the use of the finest materials to create pieces that are not only visually stunning but also enduring heirlooms.

Craftsmanship in High Jewelry

Role of craftsmanship

Craftsmanship forms the backbone of high jewelry, elevating pieces from ordinary to extraordinary. Skillful artisans, master jewelers, and lapidaries dedicatedly bring the designer’s vision to life, employing centuries-old techniques and innovative methods. Their expertise lies in shaping and transforming raw materials into jewelry masterpieces with precision, skill, and patience. The craftsmanship involved in high jewelry is often a closely guarded secret, passed down through generations, and requiring years of training and experience to attain mastery.

Craftsman techniques

Craftsman techniques used in high jewelry encompass a myriad of skills and processes. These include stone cutting, engraving, filigree, enamelwork, and delicate setting techniques such as pave, channel, and prong. Stone cutting involves shaping rough gemstones to maximize their beauty, while engraving adds intricate patterns and designs to metal surfaces. Filigree showcases delicate metalwork, creating a lacy or web-like appearance. Enamelwork adds vibrant colors and intricate patterns using powdered glass, while setting techniques securely hold gemstones in place, allowing them to shine to their fullest potential.

Time investment in creation

The creation of high jewelry is a time-intensive process that requires meticulous attention to detail and patience. From the initial design concept to the final polish, each piece can take weeks, months, or even years to complete. The time investment reflects not only the complexity of the design but also the level of craftsmanship involved. Expert artisans meticulously work on every element, ensuring that every facet and detail is flawlessly executed. The time invested in each piece adds to its uniqueness, rarity, and value.

What Is Considered High Jewelry?

Design Elements of High Jewelry

Approach to design

Design in high jewelry is a harmonious blend of creativity, inspiration, and technical excellence. Designers draw inspiration from a myriad of sources, including nature, art, architecture, and cultural influences, to create awe-inspiring pieces. They carefully balance aesthetics, wearability, and the expressive potential of materials, ensuring that the design enhances the beauty of the gemstones it showcases. High jewelry designs are often characterized by intricate detailing, flowing lines, and innovative use of color, texture, and light.

Use of symbolism

Symbolism holds an important place in high jewelry design. Pieces often incorporate symbols that carry deep meanings, representing love, power, spirituality, or cultural significance. These symbols may be manifested through the choice of gemstones, motifs, or particular arrangements of elements. For example, a butterfly motif can symbolize transformation and freedom, while an eternity ring with a continuous circle represents unending love. The use of symbolism adds layers of richness and depth to high jewelry designs, creating pieces that resonate with personal and universal significance.

Balancing aesthetics and material value

High jewelry design strikes a delicate balance between aesthetics and material value. While the beauty of gemstones and precious metals is accentuated, the overall design must also be visually compelling and cohesive. The placement and arrangement of gemstones, as well as the choice of metalwork, must enhance the piece’s visual appeal without overshadowing the natural beauty of the materials. This balance ensures that high jewelry is not only regarded as a valuable investment but also as wearable pieces of art that evoke emotions and captivate admirers.

The Value of High Jewelry

Price range

High jewelry is characterized by its exclusivity, exceptional craftsmanship, and the use of rare and precious materials. As a result, prices for high jewelry can vary significantly, ranging from several thousand dollars to millions. The intricate design, the rarity of materials, and the reputation of the brand all contribute to the final price. Limited-edition or one-of-a-kind pieces, featuring rare gemstones or historical significance, can command premium prices due to their unique nature and desirability among collectors.

Influence of brand name

The reputation and brand name of a high jewelry house play a significant role in determining the value of their pieces. Established brands with a long history of excellence and innovation, such as Cartier, Bulgari, and Tiffany & Co., often command higher prices due to their renowned craftsmanship and design prowess. The brand’s heritage and association with celebrities, royalty, or influential figures also add to its prestige, enhancing the value of its high jewelry creations.

Investment potential

High jewelry has long been recognized as a valuable investment. The rarity, quality, and timeless appeal of high jewelry pieces make them highly sought after by collectors and connoisseurs. As with any investment, factors such as brand reputation, the quality of materials, and market demand influence the potential for appreciation over time. However, it is important to note that the primary value of high jewelry lies in its emotional and artistic significance, and while it can be a prudent investment, it should also be cherished and enjoyed for its inherent beauty.

What Is Considered High Jewelry?

Famous High Jewelry Brands


Cartier, founded in Paris in 1847, is renowned for its iconic designs, exceptional craftsmanship, and royal commissions. The brand’s high jewelry pieces, characterized by timeless elegance and innovative design, have adorned the wrists, necks, and ears of influential figures throughout history. From the legendary Panthère collection to the iconic Love bracelets, Cartier’s high jewelry creations continue to captivate with their beauty and enduring allure.


Bulgari, established in Rome in 1884, is known for its bold, colorful, and exquisitely crafted high jewelry. Influenced by its Italian heritage, Bulgari combines classic elegance with avant-garde design, creating pieces that exude vibrancy and luxury. The brand’s high jewelry collections, featuring a harmonious fusion of gemstones, precious metals, and architectural inspiration, have garnered a loyal following, including celebrities and socialites.

Tiffany & Co.

Tiffany & Co., founded in New York City in 1837, is synonymous with elegance, timeless beauty, and legendary design. The brand’s high jewelry collections capture the essence of luxury and sophistication, showcasing exceptional craftsmanship and stunning gemstones. From the iconic Tiffany Setting engagement rings to the mesmerizing Yellow Diamond collection, Tiffany & Co.’s high jewelry continues to set the standard for excellence and refinement.


Chopard, established in Switzerland in 1860, is renowned for its exquisite craftsmanship, glamorous designs, and ethical values. The brand’s high jewelry pieces, featuring an array of colorful gemstones and intricate detailing, effortlessly blend classic elegance with modern sensibilities. Chopard’s commitment to sustainable and ethical practices, exemplified by its use of responsibly sourced materials, adds an extra layer of value to its high jewelry creations.

Other notable brands

In addition to the aforementioned brands, several other high jewelry houses have made their mark in the industry. Van Cleef & Arpels, known for its enchanting nature-inspired designs and innovative techniques, continues to captivate with its breathtaking high jewelry collections. Harry Winston, often referred to as the “King of Diamonds,” is celebrated for its exceptional gemstone acquisitions and its ability to create showstopping pieces that showcase the beauty and rarity of these stones. Chanel, Dior, and Graff are also esteemed names in the world of high jewelry, each with their own distinct style and design ethos.

Acquiring High Jewelry

From jewelry boutiques

One of the most common ways to acquire high jewelry is through reputable jewelry boutiques. These exclusive establishments, often located in luxury shopping districts or iconic destinations, offer a curated selection of high jewelry from renowned brands. Visiting a jewelry boutique allows you to appreciate the craftsmanship, try on pieces, and receive personalized assistance from knowledgeable staff who can provide insights on the design, materials, and care of high jewelry.

At auctions

Auctions provide an exciting avenue for acquiring high jewelry, offering the opportunity to bid on rare and unique pieces. Auction houses specializing in jewelry, such as Christie’s and Sotheby’s, present carefully curated collections that showcase exceptional high jewelry from various periods and designers. Participating in an auction allows you to compete with other collectors and enthusiasts, potentially acquiring a coveted high jewelry piece with historical significance or exceptional craftsmanship.

Custom-made pieces

For those seeking a truly unique and personalized experience, commissioning a custom-made high jewelry piece is an option worth considering. Reputable high jewelry houses often offer bespoke services, allowing clients to collaborate with designers and artisans to create a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. From selecting gemstones to discussing design preferences and incorporating meaningful symbols, the journey of creating a custom high jewelry piece ensures that it embodies your vision, style, and personality.

What Is Considered High Jewelry?

Caring for High Jewelry


Proper storage is essential for preserving the beauty and condition of high jewelry. Pieces should be stored individually in soft pouches, jewellery boxes, or dedicated compartments within a jewelry safe. This prevents scratching, tangling, or any other form of damage that may occur when pieces are stored together. It is also important to keep high jewelry away from direct sunlight, humidity, and harsh chemicals, as these can accelerate the deterioration of materials and gemstones.


Regular cleaning ensures that high jewelry pieces retain their brilliance and sparkle. However, it is crucial to follow the specific care instructions provided by the jeweler or brand. Professional cleaning by a certified jeweler is recommended to ensure that delicate settings, gemstones, and metals are thoroughly cleaned without causing any damage. Ultrasonic and steam cleaners should be used with caution and only if approved by the jeweler.


Given the significant financial and emotional value of high jewelry, it is prudent to secure appropriate insurance coverage. High jewelry pieces should be appraised by a reputable and certified appraiser to determine their value accurately. Insurance policies specifically tailored for high-value jewelry, known as scheduled personal property policies, provide coverage for loss, theft, or damage. It is important to review and update insurance coverage periodically to account for changes in value or acquisitions.

Trends in High Jewelry

Influence of fashion

The world of high jewelry is not immune to the influence of fashion trends. Designers often draw inspiration from current fashion movements, incorporating elements such as color palettes, textures, and silhouettes into their high jewelry creations. Collaborations between high jewelry houses and fashion designers have become more frequent, resulting in collections that merge the glamour of high jewelry with the artistry of fashion.

Incorporation of contemporary styles

High jewelry has also embraced contemporary styles, appealing to a younger and more diverse clientele. Clean lines, minimalist designs, and modern interpretations of classic motifs have gained popularity, showcasing the evolution of high jewelry aesthetics. Embracing wearable and versatile pieces, high jewelry brands are constantly innovating to meet the preferences and aspirations of the modern consumer.

Sustainability and ethics

In recent years, sustainability and ethical practices have become increasingly important considerations within the high jewelry industry. High jewelry houses now prioritize responsibly sourced materials, fair labor practices, and environmental conservation. Ethical certifications, such as the Kimberly Process for diamonds and the Responsible Jewellery Council, provide reassurance to consumers that the jewelry they acquire has been produced with integrity and consideration for the environment and human rights.

As the world of high jewelry continues to evolve, it remains a testament to the timeless beauty, exceptional craftsmanship, and artistic expression that captivates and enchantss. Whether passed down through generations as cherished heirlooms or acquired as contemporary symbols of luxury, high jewelry pieces hold a special place in the hearts of collectors and enthusiasts worldwide.

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Author: marklsmithms1

Hi, I'm Mark, the author of Maura Gems and Jewellery. As a team of qualified gemmologists and goldsmiths, we bring you world-class jewellery at Bangkok prices. With offices in both Bangkok and the UK, we ethically source the finest gemstones directly, eliminating any middlemen. We offer a wide range of stunning ready-made jewellery items in our new online store, available for retail or wholesale. Additionally, we specialize in custom-made jewellery where we can bring any design to life. Whether you're a trade professional or an individual customer, we cater to all. Feel free to email me at mark@mauragemsandjewellery.com or call/WhatsApp me at 07470547636 or +66949355718. Discover our incredible collection by visiting our online store. I guarantee you'll love what you find there!

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