By Maria Doulton in London
Chaumet's Hortensia high jewellery collection is quite literally a blossoming of precious flowers. But first, a little about the name. In English, the hortensia is also known as the hydrangea, but let's stick with the more poetic hortensia as it is also linked to Chaumet's history.
Hortense Eugénie Cécile Bonaparte, born in 1783, was the daughter of Joséphine de Bearnaise, who married Emperor Napoleon I. Chaumet, the jeweller to Napoleon's court, chose to honour this lady and the beautiful flower after whcih she was named.
The Chaumet Hortensia high jewellery collection is a fresh interpretation of the naturalistic style of jewellery that Chaumet embraced and became known for in the early and mid 1800s. The natural twists and whimsical meanderings of plant life captivated the romantic spirit of the 19th century, further enhanced by colour, which was used to convey different emotions.
These exuberant new Hortensia jewels enlist colour to add depth to their emotional message and capture the pristine beauty of a freshly plucked flower whose charm lies in the dainty disarray of its many blooms. The tightly packed clusters of little flowers in white-tinged angel-skin opal, tender pink sapphires and blush pink tourmalines with a dusting of diamond dew, express a young budding love, hesitant and delicate.
More dramatic are the petals of milky white carved opal, punctuated with deep blue sapphire pistils, sculpted lapis lazuli and tanzanite petals that declare a pure and steadfast love. In the simplicity and drama of these designs you can see a nod from Chaumet's designers to the Asian origin of the hortensia - in particular Japan.
Red, of course, speaks of passion and the bewitching turmoil of love. Glossy ripe drops of rubies, garnets and tourmalines burst with colour and emotions at fever pitch, barely contained by the arching pink gold ribbons that hint at flower petals, seeded with pink tourmalines and diamonds.
With so many varieties to choose from, the jewels capture the many facets of the hortensia flower, be it clusters of carved lapis lazuli blooms packed tightly into a dome or cascades of white diamond petals with touches of sapphires skimming the neck. Mimicking the exuberance of nature, a profusion of pink-hued flowers is perched on diamond-set hoops and vie for attention as they encircle the wrist. There is even a limited-edition Chaumet watch to complete the look. The hortensia-shaped tourbillon is a particularly captivating marriage of beautiful enamel sculpted flowers, diamonds and technical efficiency.
New versions of these flower-inspired jewels will soon be appearing at Chaumet, so look out for them in the coming weeks. The fine jewellery, or joaillerie collection, uses similar precious stones and colour combinations to the pink jewels, with the opals, tourmalines and pink sapphires found in the high jewellery range, but at a more accesible price point. The more everyday jewels, or bijoux, are mainly in white, pink and yellow gold with diamond highlights, with a strong graphic interpretation of the flower theme. Keep an eye out as more pictures will follow soon.
Chaumet's garden is enchanting and I am sure Hortense would love them as much as I do. But if I had to choose just one, it would have to be the magnificent red tourmaline, pink sapphire and garnet necklace, ripe with colour and joie de vivre, which can't help but make you smile.