Only a perfume as rich, unrivalled and mysterious as the century-old Chanel No 5 can inspire such a monumental high jewellery collection.
Created by perfumer Ernest Beaux and Gabrielle Chanel in 1921, the first “perfume for women with the scent of a woman” – featuring a complex blend of aldehydes and florals layered over warm, sensuous base notes of vetiver, amber and vanilla – caused a sensation. Featuring a combination of the singular modernity of the fragrance, purity of a minimalist bottle and the mystery of its name, Chanel No 5 was revolutionary.
Then in 1932, Mademoiselle Chanel broke the codes of French high jewellery with Bijoux de Diamants, her first and only collection in platinum and diamonds that introduced new ways of wearing jewellery. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the famed perfume, Patrice Leguéreau, director of Chanel Fine Jewellery Creation Studio, melded the two realms to realise the Collection No 5, the first high jewellery collection dedicated to a fragrance.
At the zenith of this 123-piece collection is the stupendous 55.55 white gold and diamond necklace. Embodying the spirit of the fragrance, an exceptional 55.55-carat custom-cut diamond crafted in its honour graces the centre of this unique creation that showcases the silhouette of the No 5 flacon.
In addition to the 146 round and baguette diamonds set on the necklace is its unique clasp. Shaped like the numeral five, it is an ode to the perfume’s origins as it is believed that Mademoiselle Chanel selected the fifth sample presented by Beaux and decided to name the scent after the number. Adds Leguéreau: “We started with a rough diamond that we had cut, not to make the biggest stone possible, but to obtain a perfect octagonal diamond weighing 55.55 carats.” The house has chosen to keep the remarkable necklace in its Patrimoine, to ensure that the tribute piece will forever bear witness to this milestone in the history of the maison’s high jewellery achievements.
Chanel’s largest high jewellery collection to date, Collection No 5 is a reflection of the scent’s many facets: daring creativity, powerful timelessness, noble materials and an accentuated femininity. The maison’s Creation Studio presents a contrast between the flacon’s unmistakable graphic design and the sensuality of the scent by transposing its five key identifying elements to the architectural jewels: the bottle, stopper, number, flowers and sillage.
The flacon’s distinctive geometric silhouette is seen through the lines of white and yellow diamonds and yellow sapphires cascading over necklaces, brooches and drop earrings. Bottles feature streams of pear-shaped diamonds and pink morganites that seemingly flow onto the skin like droplets of the divine perfume.
The emerald cut and rectangular shape recall the Place Vendôme, exalted by the beauty of gems. Meticulously crafted from rock crystal or set with diamonds, onyx, pearls and yellow sapphires, the precious octagon is at the heart of the graphic yet sophisticated pieces. Rings adorned with rock crystal reveal beds of diamonds through a skilful play on transparency. Rendered even more feminine with a fluid ribbon of diamonds, the stopper symbolises the start of an imaginary world of the No 5 perfume.
Powerful and sensuous, the outline of the number “5” becomes one of the collection’s signatures. It sits playfully off- centre on a yellow gold and diamond choker with a golden beryl drop. The XL version of the Eternal No 5 necklace can be worn five ways, including a choker and brooch (the “5” is detachable). Comprising a sublime potpourri of round, pear, navette and oval-shaped diamonds, this spectacular design is topped off with a 10-carat emerald-cut diamond.
At the heart of the fragrance are jasmine, may rose and ylang-ylang, which blossom over colourful jewellery sets. Featuring volume and depth, the flowers retain their delicacy with appearances that recall the shape of the stars, moon and sun, echoing the symbols in Gabrielle Chanel’s 1932 platinum and diamond collection. Resembling a star, the lively jasmine nestles in a cloud of diamonds. As for the may rose, Chanel interprets it through a round, moon-like flower with its petals dipped in pink sapphires. Intricately crafted like a sun, the ylang-ylang dazzles at the centre of luminous necklaces with sprinklings of diamonds resembling dew drops.
To translate the olfactory revolution that is the No 5 perfume, the maison imagines pieces with abstract motifs that shimmer and caress the body like a fragrance. A variety of exceptional yellow, amber and pink gemstones are used to represent the colours of the scent. Flaunting pink harmonies, the ultra-feminine Blushing Sillage creations are set with diamonds, rubies, garnets, yellow sapphires as well as pink and red spinels to form a colour gradation resembling the precious nectar of the No 5 perfume.
(All images: Chanel)
This story first appeared in the May 2021 issue of Prestige Singapore.