There’s a saying that goes: “you don’t need to drink the whole ocean to find out whether the water is salty or not”. This applies to Chaumet’s new high jewellery collection Lumières d’Eau: to understand and appreciate the brilliance of its execution of what appears to be a simple theme – the element of water – it isn’t necessary to see the whole collection.
I want to bring a few pieces I have chosen from 53 that make up the collection to your attention. They are split into 12 capsule collections because 12 is a symbolic number for Chaumet: the very first boutique to open was at 12 Place Vendôme and is still there to this day.
To understand and experience Chaumet’s works better, I think it best to begin by discovering more about what served as the source of inspiration for the creative director, Claire Dévé-Rakoff.
One of Claire’s hobbies is photography and once, on returning from a holiday, she was so struck by the beauty of the mirror like reflections and the tricks of light on water surfaces in the photos she’d taken that she wanted to develop it as a subject matter and put together a wonderful collection dedicated to the source of all life (H₂O in its different forms) for the 2014 Biennale.
To develop what seemed to be a new premise for a Chaumet collection, Rakoff turned to the maison’s rich archives. Chaumet is numbered amongst the small number of brands with an extensive history going back a couple of centuries. Consequently, you can imagine the number of ideas with which the predecessors of Dévé-Rakoff filled the archives.
The designer’s attention was grabbed by the diamond tiaras that are actually beautifully illustrated in a book by Diana Scarisbrick called “Timeless Tiaras” (see the images below).
A pair of earrings set with diamonds, round and baguette-cut blue and yellow sapphires, two pear-shaped yellow sapphires of 2.23 cts and 2.51 cts and two oval-cut blue sapphires from Ceylon, one – 2.72 carats, the other 3.32 carats. The necklace of sapphires and diamonds features a pear-shaped VVS1 Fancy Yellow diamond of 3.77 carats and an oval-cut blue Ceylon sapphire of 10.23 cts. The ring in white gold, set with brilliant-cut, square-cut and baguette-cut diamonds, round blue and yellow sapphires and an oval-cut 5.10 cts sapphire from Madagascar.
One of the diamond tiaras was made in 1904 for Princess Henckel von Donnersmarck and designed to look like cascading torrents of water, hence the name given to it: “Waterfall” (on the left). Another tiara was made to look like frozen stalactite streams of diamonds, platinum and gold for the Marquis de Lubersac in the same year as “Waterfall”. This third headpiece was not included in the book: the “Dolphin” tiara with diamonds and a large baroque pearl in the centre. All the current Chaumet collections are directly related with the jewellery ideas of the past, as can be seen in the latest line.
The necklace in platinum, white gold and frosted rock crystal, set with brilliant-cut and pear-shaped diamonds with a magnificent D- FL diamond of 5.03 cts in the centre. The ring is in platinum and frosted rock crystal, set with brilliant-cut diamonds and a cushion-cut F – VVS1 diamond of 3.03 cts.
The necklace is in white gold set with diamonds and amethysts, round violet sapphires and an oval opal from Ethiopia weighing 59.58 carats. Additionally there are ten oval-cut violet sapphires from Ceylon and Madagascar totalling 11.74 carats, an oval-cut violet sapphire from Madagascar of 1.51 ct and an oval-cut violet sapphire from Ceylon of 2.12 cs. The bracelet is set with brilliant-cut diamonds, oval-cut violet sapphires from Ceylon and Madagascar, round violet sapphires and a cabochon-cut white opal from Ethiopia of 39.05 carats. The ring in white gold is set with brilliant-cut diamonds, round violet sapphires, an oval-cut violet sapphire from Madagascar of 0.84 carat and a cabochon-cut white opal from Ethiopia of 18.58 carats.