This Week's Obsession: Convertible jewellery

This Week's Obsession: Convertible jewellery

... when esteemed Maisons such as Chaumet, Van Cleef & Arpels and Graff embraced the art of transformable jewellery. At Covett we love jewellery that is more than meets the eye as it allows you to expand your jewellery collection further. And that's what Covett is all about. 

Multi-use jewellery long preceded the Art Deco period, it was the Great Depression and some artful engineering that elevated convertible jewellery to new heights.

After the Stock Market crashed in 1929, jewellery became a luxury item for many women. Even high-end retailer Tiffany & Co. acknowledged the tenor of the times by running an ad that read: “Merchandise of Good Value and Fine Quality”.

The maison of Trabert & Hoeffer-Mauboussin saw opportunity amidst the challenges: it produced convertible jewellery for those on a budget. Remove a section from a necklace, for example, and it became a brooch. Pictured above, a sautoir (long necklace) with pendant by Trabert & Hoeffer-Mauboussin, circa 1935, turns into five pieces of jewellery. 

“Convertible jewellery allowed women to purchase one piece and wear it in different ways on different evenings. The versatility was appealing and created the appearance of wealth,” says McKenzie Santimer, exhibit curator at GIA in Carlsbad.

A number of other prestigious jewellery houses also made convertible jewellery, which, frugality aside, had its own appeal. Cartier created a necklace that doubled as a diadem in 1929, and in 1937, a diamond and aquamarine tiara whose centrepiece became a clip. In the 1930s, Boucheron created clips that joined together to form a brooch, and necklaces that transformed into bracelets and diadems.

Van Cleef & Arpels’ Zip necklace/bracelet is probably the most famous piece of convertible jewellery. The Duchess of Windsor proposed the idea to Van Cleef & Arpels in the mid-to-late 1930s and their designers worked on it for years, delivering a functional piece in 1951. Designing and manufacturing a zipper from precious metal was a first – and an extraordinarily difficult feat that took craftspeople over a decade to perfect.

Walter Faith’s double wrap bracelet chain is inspired by antique watch chains with a distinctive contemporary vibe in 18K rose gold and diamonds. The double link looks fabulous on the wrist and looks equally stunning if the woman you are gifting has a small neck as it opens up to be a 15” choker length necklace.

If you missed our Hardware Jewellery look for it here:

This Week's Obsession: Hardware


Transformable jewels: the ultimate in versatile style