PARIS — Don’t expect Boucheron, the jewelry house owned by France’s PPR, to dwell on its storied past next week when it kicks off festivities to mark its 150th anniversary.
This story first appeared in the January 18, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Jean-Christophe Bédos, the Place Vendôme jeweler’s president, said he wanted to use the occasion to focus on the future. To wit, he challenged his team of house designers to formulate a no-punches-pulled collection of exceptional high jewelry.
“We want the anniversary to be an occasion to celebrate our energy and passion,” he explained. “It’s not the time to look to the past and reissue archive pieces.”
The resulting collection — called Enchanting Boucheron, with prices from 1 million euros, or $1.48 million, to 3 million euros, or $4.4 million — will be unveiled to press and clients starting Monday in a town house here on the Place François 1er that, conveniently, belongs to PPR owner François Pinault.
Word has it that the jewels will be presented alongside paintings from Pinault’s personal collection of modern and contemporary art. “It should be memorable,” said Bédos, declining to give details.
Meanwhile, more than 100 of the house’s best clients have been invited to a dinner Monday evening here. Julianne Moore is expected to attend.
Boucheron has been on a roll recently, with sales increasing at a healthy clip, thanks to the boom in demand for high jewelry in markets such as Russia, Asia and the Middle East.
Bédos wants to build on that momentum. For the anniversary, two high jewelry collections — instead of the traditional single offering — and a raft of limited edition products and a new watch will be introduced. The second high jewelry offering will be presented during the couture in Paris in July.
The watches — many in limited runs — include made-to-order pieces dappled with diamonds. Girard Perregaux, the Swiss manufacturer with which Boucheron recently signed a partnership, provided all of the movements.
But the high jewelry is likely to garner the most buzz. “Usually we have budget restrictions when creating a high jewelry collection,” explained Bédos. “This time I gave our designers carte blanche. No limit.”
The result is 30 pieces testifying to the house’s technical prowess. There is, for example, a necklace — requiring eight months of work — of diamonds and sapphires with rubies placed in golden snakes’ mouths. Another necklace of diamonds and emeralds boasts secretive disk-top pods that open to reveal hidden gems. And yet another diamond and sapphire necklace comes with Art Nouveau-style flowers carved in amethyst and aquamarine. One flower detaches to double as a vial to be filled with fragrance.
One of the more curious pieces is a white gold mask — dappled with sapphires, emeralds, diamonds and flowers fashioned out of amethyst and aquamarine adorned with a detachable aigrette of heron feathers.
“Our hope with the collection is to affirm what we are capable of creating today,” said Bédos, who will travel around the world this year to host multiple private client dinners as part of the anniversary celebrations. “We are preparing for the next 150 years.”