Life in a Glamorous Terrarium

18 Mar

Something remarkable happens when you look at the kind of jewelry that can only be viewed through glass; once you get over the initial shock of seeing so many diamonds in one place, the more you stare at it, the more you forget that what you’re looking at probably costs more than your own organs. You start to wonder what that diamond and white gold pendant in the shape of a birdhouse (with that charming little diamond-encrusted bird on top!) on a long diamond chain would look like with that old black dress of yours; and compared to the choker with the cascading loops of stones, those little diamond chandelier earrings must be almost nothing, right? When a salesperson tells you that the price tag of $55,000 for a cocktail ring dubbed ‘The Fruit Salad’ (because it surrounds a Rubellite stone the size of a grape with bejeweled blackberries, raspberries, lemon and orange slices (with diamond seeds), and a cabochon pear) is a steal, you find yourself agreeing, even though just that morning you raged that your local deli was overcharging with their $6.00 fruit salad.

At the Garden Party to launch the ‘Piaget Limelight Garden Party Collection of High Jewelry and Timepieces’ last Thursday night, a healthy dose of reality was provided by the evening’s decorations. In honor of the new collection’s verdant theme, all of the display cases in the fifth avenue boutique, normally a sleek black, had been filled with living greenery. In one case, a rose motif diamond pendant (and matching earrings) nestled like Sleeping Beauty in a hedge of thorns; in another, signature Piaget Polo watches stood tall above growing grass in a tableau that seemed destined for a ‘mammals of the Serengeti’ mural. Towards the front, a multi-strand diamond and pearl stunner rested on a bed of ferns so reminiscent of ‘Jurassic Park’ it seemed likely that the penalty for getting too close would be a tiny dinosaur springing out of the greenery to spit poison into one’s eyes. In each case, the plant life made a little terrarium that served to remind the onlooker of the true nature of the jewelry: exotic creatures to be admired through glass.

Of course, the jewelry wasn’t the only thing being examined. A well-heeled crowd filled the small space, eyeing each other as they drank champagne brought on silver trays by young men almost as pretty as the jewelry. A woman with a gem-encrusted headscarf and matching bag spoke vigorous Russian to another woman wearing a jacket that looked as though it had been the victor in a battle between a black alligator and a shredder, while an elegant group of ladies discussed mushroom hunting. Chris Apgar, Managing Director of Investments at Wells Fargo, nudged his wife and pointed out a slender Fashionista in a very short, very bright Indian-print kimono. “Look,” he said, “that woman’s wearing our ottoman!” Then, turning to us, he explained “we had an ottoman in exactly that color story.”

In fact, it seemed the only person truly focused on the jewelry was Irina Dvorovenko, a Principal Dancer with the American Ballet Theatre who would have been identifiable as a Ballerina as much by her white tights as her graceful carriage (since really, white tights should only ever be worn by Ballerinas, Nurses, and children who dress up as milk cartons on Halloween). She tried on necklace after necklace with focused intensity, checking in with her husband, Maxim Beloserkovsky (also a principal dancer at ABT) for his opinion. They settled on a favorite, a piece from the new collection that sent a spray of emerald leaves over her elegant clavicle. “I’m hoping to wear it for the opening of the Metropolitan, for the final bow” she said. “The lights hitting the necklace would be so beautiful,” her husband added, and from the approving looks of those who had gathered around to watch, it seemed there already was an appreciative audience.

As people began to leave the boutique, we noticed that the walls were covered with large cloth panels printed with greenery and images of the jewelry, scaled much larger. The combination of the relatively small size of the store with the large-scale panels made it feel like not only were the jewels in a glamorous jewelry habitat, the whole store had become one. After all, even though the jewels were the ones behind the glass, it was their audience who was on display.

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