Are statement jewels replacing handbags? Cate Blanchett might know

Oscar-winner, former Armani ambassador and SK-II skincare spruiker Cate Blanchett has a knack for moving from one winning role to the next, having signed a deal with luxury label Louis Vuitton.

As the latest house ambassador for the French brand – joining Emma Stone, Chinese actor Zhou Dongyu and Bollywood star Deepika Padukone – Blanchett will promote Louis Vuitton’s rapidly growing jewellery division in a series of glossy advertisements released next month.

Cate Blanchett, wearing Louis Vuitton at the Cesar Awards in February, has been named the French luxury label’s latest house ambassador.Credit:AP

“I am extremely excited to have this opportunity to collaborate with Louis Vuitton – a truly iconic house with an enormous cultural reach,” Blanchett said in a press release. “To wear the magnificent pieces created by Francesca Amfitheatrof is a bedazzling pleasure.”

Blanchett is, as usual, on-trend. Statement jewels are replacing handbags when it comes to items coveted by those who know their Birkin bags from their Mimco wallets. LVMH, owners of Louis Vuitton and stablemate jewellery brands Tiffany & Co, Bulgari and Chaumet, reported 19 per cent organic revenue growth in its watches and jewellery division for the first quarter of 2022.

In May, LVMH rival Richemont, which owns Cartier, Buccellati and Van Cleef & Arpels, announced combined annual sales of €11 billion ($16.8 billion), an increase of 49 per cent from the previous year, for its jewellery division.

“The post-COVID world has altered the way in which consumers behave in many ways,” says Andrew McClaren, managing director of Bulgari Oceania. “Locally and abroad we are witnessing significant growth in Bulgari’s desirability creating impressive demand for our high jewellery.”

Anne Hathaway, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Lisa aka Lalisa Manoban attend the Bulgari Eden of Wonders exhibition at the Italian Embassy in Paris.

In May, the Italian jeweller brought its high jewellery collection to Australia for the first time, hosting VIP guests for private showings at the Swifts mansion in Darling Point, Sydney.

“Australian clients had a unique immersion into our brand in a private location supported by our jewellery director from Italy, allowing them the opportunity to experience the full pleasure Bulgari offers,” McClaren says.

Buglari has its own celebrity line-up with Anne Hathaway, Priyanka Chopra-Jonas and Blackpink member Lisa, attending jewellery showings in Paris this month. Chris Hemsworth’s wife Elsa Pataky wore a necklace from the Italian brand at the Sydney premiere of Thor: Love and Thunder.

Most of prominent Australian jeweller Margot McKinney’s celebrity relationships happen behind closed doors, having built support from clients in Hollywood by once sponsoring G’day LA events.

“Margot became very well known among the A-list and was able to break through in the highly competitive US jewellery market,” former politician Julie Bishop said at the opening of a retrospective of McKinney’s work World of Wonder, at the Museum of Brisbane until November 6.

“I remember one occasion when Mariah Carey literally ripped a set of Margot McKinney earrings off my ears and said that she had to have them. She didn’t end up with them, but that’s another story.”

McKinney is doing fine without Carey. The glittering grand dame encountered a unique problem while preparing for her exhibition.

“The team at the Museum of Brisbane got upset with me putting this exhibition together because pieces kept selling,” McKinney says. “Fortunately, many of my collectors have been kind enough to lend pieces back to the exhibition.”

Jeweller Margot McKinney poses for photos at the opening of a Museum of Brisbane exhibition dedicated to her work.Credit:Dan Peled

With a single strand Margot McKinney baroque pearl necklet available on website 1stdibs for more than $95,000 and a single opal pear ring for more than $58,000 at Neiman Marcus, the jeweller’s selling streak is indicative of the buoyant, post-COVID market.

“During COVID, life changed for everybody,” she says. “I think that people were together much more, didn’t have as many distractions and realised that family and loved ones were important. Buying jewellery is a way of celebrating that.”

World of Wonder: Margot McKinney is at the Museum of Brisbane until November 6.

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