I wished I could have released this photo earlier, but nature has decided otherwise. And indeed this photo depends on nature and the elements: the heart of winter, the softness of the snow, and a sublime high jewellery necklace full set with diamonds and signed by Chaumet, from the new collection Hortensia.
Hortensia necklace in platinium set with one cushion cut diamond (8.38 cts), round cut diamonds (29.74 cts) and princess cut diamonds.
The high jewellery collection is composed of 24 pieces, assembled with talent by the jewellery Maison’s own craftpersons.
Choosing the hydrangea as the official flower – a strong symbol of the Chaumet Maison – turned out to be a successful wager for Chaumet’s artistic director Claire Devé-Rakoff, with the complicity of Béatrice de Plinval, curator of the museum and heritage. By seeking inspiration from the Land of the Rising Sun, birthplace of the flower « Hajisai« , and endless source of ibotanical nspiration, Chaumet certainly intended to pay tribute to Hortense de Beauharnais, one of the most famous customers of the Maison, or perhaps was it related to the many references to Japanese art developed by Joseph Chaumet…
The history of this renowned jewellery Maison appears in 1780, when Parisian jeweller Marie-Etienne Nitot, former associate of Aubert (jeweller to Queen Marie-Antoinette) prevents Napoleon’s horse from running away. The future Emperor chooses him as his jeweller in 1802.
Napoleon I had great plans for France, which he aimed to turn into the European centre of creation, luxury and fashion – actually it still is, without wanting to brag… He insists on showing splendour and power during official ceremonies and asks his jeweller Nitot to create a ceremony sword, using the « Regent » diamond (140 carats), nowadays exhibited at the Louvre. Nitot will also have the opportunity to craft sumptuous jewellery sets, wedding jewels and tiaras for Empress Joséphine de Beauharnais and later on for Empress Marie-Louise de Hasbourg-Lorraine. The jeweller designed Napoleon’s coronation crown, and many other jewels. He imagined several acrostic bracelets made of colourful precious stones with initial letters forming a message. Empress Joséphine will receive as a gift a pair of these bracelets with the names of her children Eugène and Hortense.
The gold bee which adorned Napoleon’s cape will become a symbol for the jewellery Maison. The motif was brought back in a lovely way with the collection named « Attrape-moi… si tu m’aimes » and its Lovely Bee piece, still on my top 5 list. Read all about it in my other article « What’s new with Chaumet » – I am crazy about this ring!
Nitot’s son, François Regnault, takes over in 1809. Later on, with the fall of the Empire in 1815, he sells the Maison to his workshop foreman. Jeweller, artist and poet Jean-Baptiste Fossin, is the perfect illustration of the romantic trend of the period.
The jewellery Maison attracts the elite: royalty such as the Duchesse de Berry or the Russian Prince Anatole Demidoff, as well as artists, paintors, sculptors and writers like Honoré de Balzac.
After the French Revolution of 1848, the activity of slows down and the jeweller decides to open a boutique in London with Jean-Valentin Morel in charge of the workshop. The latter appeals to the English court and will even become official supplier to Queen Victoria.
The current name of the Maison comes from the love story between Joseph Chaumet and Marie Morel, grand-daugter of Jean-Valentin. By marrying her in 1885, Joseph Chaumet takes control of the jewellery Maison and will become a renowned master of the Belle Epoque and naturalism. He designs wonderful tiaras and captivates a clientele of aristocrats and rich families such as the Rothschilds.
In 1907, the workshops and the boutique settled in place of a private hotel, at 12 Place Vendôme, where they would never leave. The « grand salon » at the first floor, designed by architect Bélanger in 1777, is a listed historical monument since 1927. Chopin composed and played there his last Mazurka Opus 68 n°4. Nowadays, it still houses an important heritage, a great value for the history of jewel.
Marcel Chaumet became the owner of the company in 1928, at the height of the Art Deco period, he became a reference in this trend, notably through his participation in the 1925 « Arts Décoratifs » exhibition. He draws his inspiration from cubist painting, Ancien Egypt motifs or exoticism from the East, inspirations for fashion at that time. The jeweller believes in advertising and invents a new creative jewellery, « fashion and sentimental jewellery », along with the revolution of « ready to wear ». New collections are born, while always keeping its exclusive know « High Jewellery » know how.
In 1934, the Maison closes, only to re-open after World War II. Chaumet will be seen as a pioneer, falling into the same category as fashion designers Yves Saint Laurent or Christian Dior.
From 1958 to 1987, sons of Marcel Chaumet Jacques and Pierre took over the jewellery Maison. It was then bought in 1987 by Investcorp, a Bahrain investment bank, and bought over in 1999 by LVMH.
In 2011, June 9th, The Maison obtained the RJC (Responsible Jewellery Council) certification, an international standard on responsible business practises with regard to human rights, labour rights, environmental mining, and product disclosure.
After many iconic pieces such as the Bee (like me ;)), the spider, the Joséphine tiara or the high jewellery Liens (« link ») ring…
Chaumet yet was to add the symbol of a powerful flower which could be characteristic of the Maison, such as the camellia for Chanel or the rose for Piaget.
The hydrangea appears in the latest collection:
First called « rose from Japan » by Philibert Commerson, naturalist and doctor, who brought it back from Japan, he eventually names it « Hortensia » (hydrangea), the latin word for garden.
Thank you to jewellery Maison Chaumet
for its trust, and to photographer Nicolas Mingalon for this magnificent splendid snowy photo.
For all enquiry, please contact the boutique:
12 place Vendôme, 75001 Paris