Jewelry Trends

What is High Jewelry? Exploring a World of Craftsmanship and Luxury

Rachel Akmakjian


Rachel Akmakjian

Fine jewelry has always been a symbol of elegance and sophistication, but within this realm of exclusivity lies a greater pinnacle of luxury known as high jewelry. Also referred to as haute joaillerie, this type of jewelry represents the epitome of artistic expression and craftsmanship within the world of jewelry design.

Unlike fashion jewelry or mass produced pieces, high jewelry is known for its exceptional quality, use of precious gemstones, and bespoke designs.

Keep reading to explore the enchanting world of high jewelry, and better understand the features that set it apart from other types of jewelry.

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What You Will Learn

What is High Jewelry? High Jewelry vs. Other Types of Jewelry

To truly appreciate the magnificence of high jewelry, it’s essential we distinguish it from other types of jewelry.

While fashion jewelry caters to trends and designer jewelry exudes artistic flair, high jewelry stands alone in its exquisite craftsmanship and use of only the finest quality materials. Likewise, contrasting sharply with costume jewelry, high jewelry offers an unparalleled level of luxury and sophistication.

Amidst the world of haute couture, high jewelry is the crowning glory, complementing and enhancing the beauty of the finest garments. Crafted with precision and creativity, high jewelry pieces are often considered wearable works of art.

As such and because high jewelry is not merely an accessory but an artistic expression, many high jewelry designers have backgrounds in art and design, bringing their unique perspectives to the world of luxury jewelry. This fusion of artistic creativity with expert craftsmanship results in high jewelry pieces that are both breathtaking and thought-provoking.

Fine and High Jewelry: What’s the Difference?

Compared to high jewelry, fine jewelry encompasses a broader category of high-quality jewelry that may not necessarily reach the level of exclusivity and rarity seen in high jewelry. Nonetheless, fine jewelry still offers exceptional beauty and craftsmanship, appealing to a broader audience of luxury enthusiasts.

Tiffany and other reputable brands offer a wide range of fine jewelry collections that captivate with their timeless elegance and impeccable quality. However, comparing these collections with high jewelry reveals the nuances of design, materials, and craftsmanship that differentiate the two categories.

The Pioneer of High Jewelry

Joel Arthur Rosenthal, known by his brand name JAR, is a legendary figure in the world of high jewelry. Based in Paris, JAR boasts a reputation for creating some of the most extraordinary and rare pieces of high jewelry. A meticulous attention to detail and artistic flair grants the brand a cult following among discerning collectors and connoisseurs.

Features of High Jewelry

High jewelry typically displays several defining features, including the use of precious metals, emphasis on precious gemstones, commitment to the finest quality and craftsmanship, and the creation of unique and bespoke pieces.

  • Use of Precious Metal

High jewelry embraces precious metals such as platinum, gold, and silver, as the foundation for its creations. These base metals not only lend durability, but also provide a canvas for the intricate designs to follow. The blend of a precious base metal with gemstones elevates high jewelry to new heights of elegance and luxury.

  • Emphasis on Precious Gemstones

Precious gemstones lie at the heart of high jewelry. High jewelry designers will often use precious gemstones to enhance the beauty of a necklace, rings, bracelets, or earrings, creating pieces that leave a lasting impression. From the brilliance of diamonds to the vivid hues of sapphires, emeralds, and rubies, these exquisite stones add a mesmerizing touch to each piece. Precious gemstones’ rarity and exceptional quality further cement high jewelry as a true treasure.

(Do note that precious gemstones historically referred to diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, and rubies, while all other gemstones were termed semi-precious. However, this distinction is less rigid today. Both precious and semi-precious categories can be natural, meaning they are not man-made or synthetic. Natural gemstones encompass a wide array of materials, each with its own unique allure and charm.)

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  • Commitment to the Finest Quality and Craftsmanship

High jewelry is a testament to master artisans’ dedication and skills. Each piece of high jewelry is meticulously crafted, with extraordinary attention to detail. The pursuit of perfection is evident in every cut, originally laid stone, and design element, ensuring that high jewelry pieces go unmatched.

  • Unique and Bespoke Pieces

Unlike mass produced jewelry, high jewelry offers exclusivity and individuality. Many pieces are one-of-a-kind and reflect a wearer’s personality and style. Bespoke high jewelry pieces are a testament to the enduring value of craftsmanship and the importance of personal connections with luxury brands.

Features of High Jewelry

High Jewelry and Luxury Brands

Leading global luxury brands have established themselves as the embodiment of elegance and prestige in the world of high jewelry. Names like Tiffany, Cartier, Harry Winston, and Van Cleef & Arpels evoke visions of timeless beauty and unparalleled craftsmanship (and yes, while many of these brands are more well known for their fine jewelry, many often still do offer high jewelry to select clientele). These brands have earned their esteemed status by consistently producing high jewelry pieces that captivate and inspire.

Now, in the digital age, luxury brands like these have embraced the option for their customers to shop online, showcasing their high jewelry collections to a global audience. Virtual exhibitions and immersive online experiences allow enthusiasts to explore the brilliance of high jewelry from the comfort of their homes.

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Protect Your Investment

The high jewelry industry is a world of exceptional beauty, craftsmanship, and prestige, where the finest quality materials and rare gemstones come together to create wearable works of art. Leading global luxury brands continue to elevate the art of high jewelry, offering exquisite pieces that transcend time and trends.

At BriteCo, we offer comprehensive and cost-effective jewelry insurance coverage for pieces such as these. Our policies provide protection against loss, theft, and damage worldwide, ensuring your high jewelry is safe.

To learn more, contact us directly or take a look at your coverage options when you explore online via our personalized quote tool.


What is the significance of Place Vendôme in high jewelry?

Place Vendôme in Paris is synonymous with high jewelry. This iconic square houses some of the most renowned high jewelry brands, and it has become a symbol of prestige and elegance. The historical significance of this location and its association with high jewelry creates a unique aura of opulence and refinement.

Is high jewelry ever gold plated?

No, high jewelry is not typically gold plated. High jewelry is known for its exceptional quality and use of precious metals, such as gold, platinum, and silver, and it’s often extremely expensive.

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Rachel's expertise is further enhanced by her distinction as a Graduate Gemologist from the prestigious Gemological Institute of America (GIA), equipping her with exceptional knowledge in gem identification and grading. Her education and experiences have given her an in-depth understanding of the demands and expectations facing jewelers and customers in today’s evolving retail marketplace.