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PARIS — Chaumet’s new creative director, Claire Dévé-Rakoff, has unveiled her first complete fine jewelry collection, marking her official debut more than a year after her arrival at the storied Place Vendôme jeweler.
This story first appeared in the October 1, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The Chaumet Hortensia collection, inspired by the hydrangea, is the first floral-themed one for the 233-year-old house, famous as the official jeweler of Napoleon Bonaparte.
“Floral lines are essential in jewelry. Each jeweler has his own flower, so to speak, and at Chaumet we didn’t have one,” said Thierry Fritsch, the company’s president. “We chose the hydrangea, which suits us, as the hydrangea is a subtle and complex flower that is a little hard to work.”
Pointing at a floral display in the entrance of Chaumet’s ballroomlike salon, Dévé-Rakoff said the bloom was more versatile than one might expect.
“People think a hydrangea is basically a white ball — simple, round. But if you look at all the types of hydrangeas from Japan and Taiwan, there are some with round petals, others with pointed ones, and they come in astounding colors,” she noted.
Accordingly, the 24-piece collection is divided into three sections corresponding to different aspects of the flower.
“Budding Emotion” represents the most feminine and sensual end, with rings, a brooch, earrings and a necklace that can be broken up and worn as two short necklaces and a bracelet. The pink gold pieces feature irregular clusters of diamonds, pink tourmalines, sculpted opal cabochons and pink sapphires.
“Bold Emotion” is in the house’s more familiar graphic style, with a necklace, rings, earrings, a cuff and a watch set with blue sapphires, tanzanite, white opal and sculpted lapis lazuli on white gold or platinum. The cuff is the most expensive piece, retailing for 900,000 euros, or $1.2 million at current exchange, including tax in France.
The final selection, “Deep Emotion,” is what Dévé-Rakoff calls the “Byzantine” end of the collection. The star piece is a pink gold necklace set with rubies, pink sapphires, pink and red tourmalines and rhodolite garnets, with a 25.68-carat pear-shaped red tourmaline pendant.
A watch with a bracelet made from three rows of pearl-cut rubies, earrings and rings with intricately interwoven settings completes the set.
Dévé-Rakoff, who launched her own company specializing in jewelry and accessory design at the age of 21, said her experience working for brands including Claude Montana, Jean Paul Gaultier and Chanel allowed her freedom to experiment with different materials and techniques.
“I’ve done everything from bags to clothes to plates to interior design — there are no limits,” she said.
Fritsch said the house plans to develop more fine jewelry collections to meet booming demand from markets such as China, Russia and Brazil, though the Chaumet Hortensia collection should also feed through to a more accessibly priced line.
“Our priorities for development skew to the high end and fine jewelry, which does not prevent us from also making watches and having accessibly priced lines, because the latter are absolutely necessary for a house to conquer new clients and are absolutely not contradictory with producing fine jewelry,” he said.