The humble sheaf of wheat is a powerful national symbol in France. It is an emblem of bountiful times, representing wealth and prosperity, and for Chanel founder Gabrielle Chanel, it was a personal talisman that she believed brought good fortune and so she filled her house with its iconography. And now it has been forever immortalised by Chanel in a new high jewellery collection called Chanel Les Blés.
Chanel unveiled this uplifting new high jewellery collection during Paris Couture Week in July, and the stage was set before you even reached the door of the Ritz Hotel within which the jewels were laid out in the Coco Chanel suite. In Paris’s historic Place Vendôme square, on which the Ritz can be found, stood black lacquered boxes filled with wheat, an installation created by street art’s founding father Gad Weil, commissioned by Chanel.
Inside the suite, the wheat theme continued with displays carefully crafted from rough sheaves and miniature installations decorating every available surface, even filling the bathtub. The jewels themselves were faithful reproductions of this emblem of positivity, with realistic white gold sheaves decorated with ears of wheat constructed from marquise-cut diamonds or round diamonds inside marquise-shaped settings.
Some of the most spectacular jewels within Chanel Les Blés use fancy coloured diamonds to bring the warmth of the sun to the wheat, referencing the highlight of any farmer’s season – the harvest. A particularly dazzling collier, the Fête des Moissons, wrapped an intricate design of overlapping sheaves of wheat set with fancy-coloured diamonds around a 25ct cut-cornered rectangular-modified brilliant-cut fancy intense yellow diamond. Often with Chanel Les Blés, the listing off of diamonds becomes a mathematical feat, with this necklace alone set with more than 2,240 diamonds with a total carat weight of nearly 120 carats.
Yellow sapphires were also prominent, with jewels set with large cuts of sunshine-yellow stones as well as the Moisson d’Or jewels that were designed around lariats and tassels made of hundreds of faceted yellow sapphire beads. Lush green colours were also introduced to Chanel Les Blés with a line of jewels designed around marquise-shaped peridot and a suite of two rings and a necklace set with three Muzo Colombian emeralds cut from the same rough.
And it wouldn’t be a Chanel high jewellery presentation without a new pearl creation, and this season Chanel put a twist on classic strings of pearls by interspersing large Japanese cultured pearls with small ones, rather than graduating them. And this Moisson de Perles necklace was, of course, adorned with a beautifully crafted white gold and diamond sheaf of wheat adorned with a large Indonesian pearl – just as Coco Chanel would have wanted it.