In full bloom: Stenzhorn reveals the Peony Princess
Stenzhorn’s Peony Princess jewels are inspired by this flower of Asian origin with a wide range of cultural significance around the world.
The allure of flowers has inspired jewellery designers for many centuries and continues to do so today. From richly coloured C17th botanical motifs to elaborate swirling Art Nouveau blooms, flowers are inextricably intertwined with the art of the jeweller.
Stenzhorn’s carries on this long tradition of floral jewellery with the latest of its series of flower-themed designs. The Peony Princess necklace, ring and earrings are a tribute to the much-loved Asian flower that now populates the entire world with its billowing, delicate blooms.
The peony is native to China and was its national emblem from the C6th Sui dynasty up until 1929 and is deeply ingrained in its culture and that of surrounding nations. Signifying wealth and honour, it became the protagonist of myths and legends, the most famous of which is the Japanese Peony Princess fairy tale. The peony was brought from China to Japan in C18th and soon became sought-after for its impressive, light as air flowers. A complex and tragic tale of impossible love and honour, the peony in this tale represents the virtue of honour.
On the other hand, for the Ancient Greeks, Paeonia was the young nymph who blushed at Apollo’s admiring glances sending Aphrodite into a fit of jealous rage. In revenge she turned the young nymph into a red peony giving origin to the flower’s associations with romance and coyness.
With such a wealth of intriguing connotations, Anna Strarosti, Stenzhorn’s chief designer, decided to embody the three most universal attributes of wealth, romance and compassion into the trio of blooms set onto a stream of graduated diamonds that form a v-shape around the neck. The central flower in full bloom represents wealth with its eight petals magnificently set with rubies and diamonds. The flower next to it is reminiscent of compassion while the young bud embodies Peonia’s romance in the flush of youth.
Meticulously conceived and constructed, the Peony Princess captures the movement of the flower by painstakingly replicating the real thing. “I gave the model makers a picture of a Japanese peony and said that I wanted the jewel to look just like this, " explains Ms. Strarosti. "I challenged the design team to make the flowers utterly realistic. The placing of the rubies and diamonds is not random but a like the stripes in the flower itself.” As for the two-tone strength of the design, Ms. Strarosti explains: "Here at Stenzhorn we have a particular style and we never use more than two colours in one piece.”
The peonies really come to life thanks to Stenzhorn’s ability to mix setting techniques with great prowess using 25 carats of the best deep pink Burmese rubies and 20 carats of top quality white diamonds. Invisibly-set rubies, each cut individually to fit the rippling shapes of petals, provide the deep, smooth red that seems to glide across flowers the with liquid ease. This rich red colour contrasts with the bright white of the diamond pavé creating a dramatic effect. If you look closely at the largest flower you will see that in the very centre of the flower the diamonds are channel-set to perfectly wrap even the smallest new petals in gems.
Our love of floral jewellery is unlikely to ever fade, particularly with examples of such sophisticated design and refined craftsmanship brought to life with magnificent gemstones set into jewels like these.