Boucheron’s illustrious heritage during the Art Deco era sparked the imagination of its creative director Claire Choisne, who distilled the design movement’s audacious spirit into a contemporary and socially responsible high jewellery collection.
It has been nearly 70 years since French jeweller Louis Boucheron received the Grand Prix at the Universal Exhibition of 1925 in Paris, which marked the arrival of the Art Deco movement. And that era’s distinctive aesthetic has not lost its allure even in the 21st century. Imparting a modern interpretation to it is Boucheron creative director Claire Choisne, who delved deep into the maison’s archives for its latest high jewellery collection named Histoire de Style, Art Déco.
While the purity and timelessness of Art Deco design appealed to Choisne, the Roaring Twenties’ spirit of freedom, self-expression and experimentation strongly resonated with her. She says: “For this collection, archival pieces were stripped down to accentuate the element of purity while drawing the antagonisms of Art Deco. It features pure lines juxtaposed against opulent designs, monochrome hues with a hint of colour, as well as androgynous pieces that can be worn by both men and women with inspirations from the men’s wardrobe, such as the tie.
“The maison is committed to giving all women and men the freedom to wear and express themselves through our jewellery. In the tradition of the maison, many of the pieces are designed to wear in multiple ways, which cater for different occasions and styles.”
As the post-war 1920s were a time when women began wearing masculine clothes, plunging necklines, high-waisted pants, long necklaces and short hair, Art Deco’s relationship with fashion inspired Choisne to create couture-influenced designs such as Cravate (tie), Col (collar), and Ruban (ribbon).
Bringing them to life required the most demanding of artisanal jewellery-making techniques. Choisne highlights pieces that posed great difficulties during the crafting process: “For the Col Émeraudes necklace, the challenge was cutting, polishing and crimping the rock crystal to fit perfectly with the horizontal emerald shapes of the necklace. In addition, the thin lines of onyx were cut in one block for each emerald motif, making this step very delicate. To achieve an even more beautiful rendering, the lapidary chose to cut each onyx pattern in a single block instead of eight. The whole process required 800 hours of work.
“For the multi-wear pieces, such as the Lavallière Diamants and Ruban Diamants, we worked with experimental jewellers who were able to take a unique approach to develop inventive systems in designs that allows the wearer versatility. The challenge that arose was having to create subtle systems while guaranteeing the ease of switching from one style to another.”
The result of devoting 18 months to such a compact collection is that the pieces are surprising and innovative. On such transformable creations that defy gender association, Choisne elaborates: “Jewellery is not a question of gender but is above all a question of vision. It allows everyone to express their uniqueness. We believe that jewellery should not only be for women. Men should be free to express themselves as well. High jewellery was actually first created for men back in the time of kings and the maharajah as a symbol of status. The maison wishes to keep this idea alive.”
In keeping with the times, Histoire de Style, Art Déco also offers sustainable luxury elements: The Bouton Émeraude ring showcases a traceable Muzo cushion emerald of 7.43 carats, while the Chevalière Émeraude ring is set with a traceable Muzo emerald of 4.43 carats. “Both jewels contain exceptional emeralds from Colombia’s Muzo mine, which is the pioneer in the development of a full traceability certificate for individual emeralds, in respect of ISO 9000 standards, providing information from rough to cut-polished emerald.”
(All images: Boucheron)
This story first appeared in the May 2021 issue of Prestige Singapore.