Space Age Aerogel Takes Center Stage in Six-Figure Jewelry

The mark of an artist, some say, is the ability to conjure something from nothing. Aerogel, an ultralight material NASA uses to both capture stardust like a sponge and insulate its Mars rover, is as close to nothing as something can be. Described as “solid smoke,” the Space Age material is at the heart of Boucheron’s Goutte de Ciel, which translates as “taste of the sky.” Creative director Claire Choisne designed the one-of-a-kind necklace to accentuate the material’s delicate properties (it’s 98% air), protecting it in a clear, almost 2.5-inch rock-crystal pendant shaped like a teardrop.

THE COMPETITION

• Instead of the lightest material known to man, try osmium, one of Earth’s heaviest naturally occurring substances. It’s the source of the glittering crystal face of Ulysse Nardin’s Tourbillon Free Wheel timepiece, which clocks in at €102,000 ($120,800).

• If it’s a truly extraterrestrial bauble you’re after, David Yurman’s $775 dog tag necklace is made from a slice of the 4 billion-year-old Gibeon meteorite and patterned with crisscrossing lines of iron and nickel.

• Made-to-order titanium rings by Mach3Ti were created from parts of mission-flown ­Air Force SR-71 Blackbirds, long-range, high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft that were capable of speeds of more than 2,100 mph. Prices start at $999.

THE CASE

The centerpiece of Boucheron’s latest collection is not only a lump of near-air; the necklace is enhanced by 6,162 diamonds totaling 108.17 carats. The aerogel pendant can be removed and worn in other, less blingy configurations. A simple silk cord is included, and a bracelet version is available separately. However it’s showcased, the substance captures and reflects an ethereal spectrum of light: It can look white, blue, and sometimes almost invisible. €590,000 ($696,000)

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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