There is a classical beauty and purity to the new Chaumet jewellery unveiled in Paris this week. Inspired by the oak, the lily, the laurel and wheat, Chaumet offers a bright new take on these eternal symbols with shimmering diamond jewellery and gracious gemstones.
Since its founding in 1780, the Place Vendôme jeweller Chaumet has been doing the impossible and making jewels that capture the delicate yet majestic grace of nature. Drawing on these perennial symbols, which have been with us since Classical times, Chaumet transforms sapphires, pearls, diamonds and Paraiba tourmalines into contemporary jewels. A walk around Chaumet’s impressive jewellery museum reveals how an oak leaf curls around a pearl acorn on a golden headpiece from 1903, a seed-laden sprig of wheat becomes a 1900s brooch, and a lily droops so realistically from a 1910 tiara.
Once again, Chaumet has challenged its skilled jewellers to capture the essence of these symbolic plants and flowers for a new generation. And the result is the high jewellery collection La Nature de Chaumet. Like nature itself, it is the smallest, simplest details that make me sigh. A brooch of a simple ear of freshly plucked wheat tied with a ribbon, earrings of oak leaves frosted with diamonds, a tiara with three blood red lilies in full bloom or a laurel wreath necklace all have the power to evoke the myths and symbols of times past.
The generous bounty yet fragility of nature is captured to perfection in the new Wheat Brooch, with a 2.21ct diamond drop suspended from the stem. The slender stalks seem to be bowing under the weight of wheat ears loaded with diamond seeds, waiting to blow to the four winds. This fleeting moment in the cycle of nature becomes eternal thanks to the lightness of touch of Chaumet’s jewellers – and some impressive diamonds. The Offrende d’éte or Summer Offerings ring, set with a brilliant Type II A 3-carat diamond at its heart, shows how gracefully a sizeable stone can be worn in this carefully calibrated design echoing with Classical references.
The laurel leaf, symbol of victory, takes on a more benign form as the Firmament Apollinien necklace of intertwined leaves that drapes on the neck so naturally. Inspired by the leaf garlands of earlier days, it is graced with a fabulous 34.36ct Burmese sapphire, but the designers at Chaumet have still managed to capture the spontaneous beauty of nature. Despite the value of the sapphires, diamonds and carved moonstones, I can imagine this necklace and the matching ring being worn with a long, white, flowing Grecian-style tunic and bare feet.
Transformable jewels are something of a speciality at Chaumet, and the Racine Célestes necklace can be worn long or in two further different ways. Pink is not a colour often associated with the oak but Chaumet masterfully combines pink and violet spinels with pink freshwater pearls, pink sapphires and, of course, a generous amount of diamonds. This highly flexible sautoir transforms into two shorter, choker-length necklaces. More daring in their colour combinations are the Promise de l’aube earrings featuring electric blue Paraiba tourmalines.
But I have saved the most spectacular till last. The Passion Incarnat is a tiara of a daring rarely seen in this style of headpiece, and tiaras are a speciality of the house. Not only is it unusual to see a red tiara, I have never seen one so ripe with life. A magnificent central lily glistens with Tanzanian red spinels, luscious rhodolite garnets and leaf-green tourmalines. And if you can’t find enough occasions to wear a tiara, the two larger lilies can be detached and worn as brooches.
La Nature de Chaumet resolutely confirms that these classical motifs of the Maison still have the power to captivate us with their enduring charm.