TBC | The Jewellery Editor

For the best part of last year, while Parisians and tourists crisscrossed the elegant Place Vendôme, unbeknownst to them, high up in Louis Vuitton’s rooftop atelier, master jewellers were entirely focused on bringing to life the most valuable necklace ever created by the luxury house.

The Aster necklace has 125 carats of Kashmire sapphires which display the highly desirable velvety-blue hue and dazzling transparency.

For six months, Louis Vuitton’s master artisans, jewellers, gemmologists, and designers trained their attention on the Aster necklace.   One hundred and twenty-five carats of exquisite Kashmir sapphires (above) grace this exceptional necklace; each of the 23 stones a superb example of the most desirable velvety blue hues and crystal transparency.  The blue light of the sapphires shines out against the brilliance of 24 specially-cut star shape diamonds.  The jewel is a bespoke creation for a private client who entrusted Louis Vuitton to exalt the grace of these luminous stones in a necklace tailored to fit her like a glove.

Francesca Amfitheatrof, Louis Vuitton Artistic Director for Watches and Jewellery, masterminded this harmonious coming together of supreme raw natural beauty, sophisticated design, and craftsmanship.  Ms Amfitheatrof says: ‘The Louis Vuitton High Jewellery Aster necklace is an extremely rare creation and, maybe for the first time in my life, I have been given the opportunity to design a necklace fit for royalty.  To marry this incredible layout of sapphires with our Louis Vuitton Monogram Star-cut diamonds meant that I could create a continuous constellation of spectacular gemstones.”

Recreating the cosmos is an ambitious task, and the Louis Vuitton team invested 1,500 hours of craftsmanship to capture the majestic power of the firmament in a strikingly simple necklace.  Twenty-three sapphires, graduating in size from 2.80 carats to the 17.88-carat central stone, alternate with star-cut diamonds to create the effect of a dusky evening sky.

The settings were individually cast in platinum, each one custom-made to perfectly hold the different size stones. The links are almost invisible, creating a seamless flow of blue and white.

This collection of perfectly matched sapphires took over twenty years to gather together. The sapphires were mined from the historic source in the mountains of Kashmir, northern India, and travelled to Louis Vuitton’s light-flooded Place Vendôme roof-top high jewellery workshop to be transformed into the Aster necklace.  Coveted by moguls and maharajas for their rich hues, and second only to diamonds in strength, the sapphire has held its place as one of the most desirable of all gemstones.  

Each of the 24 diamonds was carved from a single rough stone to achieve maximum brilliance and clarity.  Like stars suspended in a silky night sky, the platinum settings of the diamonds and sapphires have been reduced to a minimum, allowing the gems to flow around the neck.  As each sapphire is different in size, individual platinum baskets were cast for each one.  The baskets are adorned with ‘V’ motifs and then meticulously set with smaller diamonds.  The baskets allow for the maximum amount of light to illuminate the stones thanks to both the intricate open work of the metal and the meticulous high-sheen polishing, done by hand with long ribbons of suede and linen.  The baskets holding each stone are connected by invisible links that move with ease, allowing the necklace to softly drape around the neck.

Francesca Amfitheatrof, Louis Vuitton Artistic Director for Watches and Jewellery says of the Aster necklace: ‘All stones have a particular mood – their own character and energy. These are so seductive, so soft, so inviting and so rare. Really, my job was to enhance the stones and create a feeling of a starry sky at night.”

Even the clasp is a miniature work of art.  A diamond and sapphire seductively adorn the nape of the neck, suspended from a mosaic of kite and star-shaped diamonds clasp.  It is not surprising that the necklace is housed in a bespoke Louis Vuitton trunk, a nod to the origins of this Parisian house that started life making steamer trunks in the Asnières-sur-Seine district of the city.  The miniature trophy-style trunk has double doors that swing open to reveal a white interior and mirrored panels that reflect the necklace from every angle.  The royal blue leather of the exterior was specially dyed to match the Kashmir sapphires.


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