High Jewelry’s Walk on the Wild Side

PARIS — At a time when many luxurious collections are focusing on nature, Elie Top goes all the approach again to the forest primeval.

With what he calls his most technically completed excessive jewellery assortment so far, three years in the making, the designer has moved past the gothic, “Game of Thrones”-style aesthetic that he had favored since founding the model that bears his title in 2015.

“I wanted to do things that were primordial, more reptilian, like a branch of evolution that stopped,” Mr. Top, 44, mentioned throughout a preview in June in his salon on the Rue St.-Honoré. “I also wanted to show that I could do something different, and, at the same time, structurally, it’s not unlike a gothic cathedral. Or gargoyles.”

But whereas his Magica Naturae assortment evokes elementary creatures, it additionally nods to Mr. Top’s earliest impressions in the trend business — as a 19-year-old intern and fledgling illustrator (additionally accountable for unrolling materials) at Yves Saint Laurent.

One of the first items of artwork that Saint Laurent and his companion, Pierre Bergé, acquired was a chook sculpture by the Senufo folks of Ivory Coast, bought in 1960. The wood totem was displayed prominently in all the designer’s properties in Paris, and it now stands in the Musée Yves Saint Laurent in Marrakesh, Morocco.

The Calao (hornbill) pendant.

In Mr. Top’s arms, the statue’s kind has been rendered as the Calao (hornbill) pendant in rose and yellow gold, the stomach of the chook set with a row of previous mine-cut diamonds, and its wings with two traces of smaller diamonds. Its scale-like end was impressed by a pair of 19th-century pétanque balls that Mr. Top purchased on eBay. (Pétanque is a tossing recreation performed in France.) Made of wooden, the balls are sheathed in nails with extensive heads in coppery, silver and black patinas.

“There’s something animal and organic about that surface,” the designer mentioned, “but it’s not figurative — it’s urban. It reminds me of the pavés de Paris,” he added, evaluating the scale-like end to the French capital’s cobblestone streets.

That impact impressed a bestiary of 5 creations: In addition to the pendant, there are a chameleon ring; an emerald crocodile ring spanning 4 fingers; a snake bracelet; and a big tortoise pendant, the carapace set with orange, yellow and cognac sapphires and diamonds, and a beryl.

Mr. Top designed figurative items, like turtles and snakes, throughout the 17 years he labored with Alber Elbaz, first at Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche after which at Lanvin. But these have been fabricated from resin and strass (imitation diamonds).

“I kept the volumes I used to use for costume jewelry, but now they’ve become as sophisticated as possible,” the designer mentioned. “It’s like working with real little characters; the atelier even gave them first names.”

A saber tooth-shape pendant.

The Senufo-style pendant and the tortoise are every priced at 90,000 euros (about $105,530), however their distinctive scales may also be seen on cheaper items, together with a saber tooth-shaped pendant or the sculptural Dorsale ring, each in gold and distressed silver with diamonds (€12,500 and €9,800), in addition to a handful of fine-jewelry designs in polished and hand-patinated silver with touches of gold, priced from €2,300.

“I wanted to make a statement in terms of style and design, but also incorporate pieces that are more accessible,” Mr. Top mentioned. “You can’t be submerged by the preciousness of a thing. If wearing jewelry means losing your freedom, it’s hell.”