PARIS — Continuing on its mission of sourcing exceptional stones in a responsible and sustainable way, Chopard will unveil a 6,225-carat raw emerald during the high jewelry presentations coinciding with Haute Couture Week here.
The emerald, named Chopard Insofu, weighs 1.22 kilograms — roughly the same as a Champagne bottle — and was found in the open-air Kagem mine in Zambia by Gemfields, a leading supplier of responsibly sourced colored gemstones.
It was given its name after the word “elephant” in the Bemba language spoken in the region around the mine, for its size and its shape evoking the animal’s trunk. The Chopard Insofu is among the largest emeralds ever found in the world, and the second-largest emerald ever found in Kagem, placing between the 5,655-carat Inkalamu (or “lion”) and the recently unearthed 7,525-carat Chipembele (or “rhinoceros”).
Still in its raw state, the sizable emerald has not yet revealed its secret, but it has already been described as “extraordinarily alive,” with experts lauding its purity and size.
“The size and quality of the crystal make it a rare find indeed,” stated Sean Gilbertson, director of Gemfields, noting that it was also “setting a historic milestone for traceability back to the mine-of-origin, a holy grail for consumers” seeking reassurances on the credentials of their stones as it is the first emerald of this size and purity to meet traceability requirements.
“By purchasing a raw stone, we are able to follow its entire journey through to final creation. Chopard will cut the raw emerald and collect all the cut gems emerging from it….We ensure a complete chain of traceability, which is rare for [such] stones,” said Chopard’s copresident and artistic director Caroline Scheufele who noted that a “fully integrated supply chain” was what made “these treasures of nature so valuable to our clientele,” who despite the COVID-19 pandemic had shown “strong resilience and loyalty” to the house.
She recalled her feeling at the discovery of the Insofu emerald as “surpassing any emotion [she] had ever known.”
Despite her excitement at this project, which “a passionate gem-lover like her dreams of,” she expressed caution, noting that while “plans are underway to make a collection [out of the stone], a rough emerald holds many mysteries” and that the process was just beginning.
“With a one-of-a-kind stone like this one, we have to find a way to make it the star of the show. In this case, we will start with what results of the cut…and build the surrounding design that best complements [them],” she said in an email interview.
In 2017, the house had unveiled the “Garden of Kalahari” set, designed from a single 342-carat raw diamond of exceptional purity.
Emeralds are a particular point of focus for the brand, which gives them pride of place in its high jewelry designs. “Whenever we have a larger emerald, my priority is to cut the stone in a way that takes advantage of its size. Each [one] possesses an individual internal structure [called] a garden…a fingerprint of textures and inclusions that make [them] unique,” she continued.
In the 2021 Red Carpet Collection unveiled at the Cannes Film Festival under the “Paradise” theme, impressive specimens included a 43.21-carat cabochon on a brooch and a 61.79-carat round shape on a necklace.
The Chopard Insofu emerald will be the highlight of the “Exceptional Gemstones” presentation at its Paris flagship store, where the jeweler will showcase an assortment of 20 exceptionally pure gemstones, in designs or still loose — a first for the house.
Among these will be some emeralds, of course, but also an unheated sapphire of 21.04 carats; an also-unheated pigeon blood ruby cut in a pear shape, found in Mozambique, and a 31.3-carat fancy dark gray-greenish yellow “chameleon” diamond, which has the unusual ability to change color depending on light and heat exposure.
Completed designs will showcase the house ethos of “revealing the natural radiance of gems, without superfluous ornament or embellishments,” according to Scheufele.
Other rarities are a black Australian opal with striking blue and green streaks, and a vibrant turquoise Paraïba tourmaline.
This exhibition will be the first of several highlights for Chopard this year.
Coming up next is a celebration of its 25th anniversary as Cannes’ official partner, where Scheufele aims to satisfy the house clientele’s appetite for “something that hasn’t been done before, something surprising” to top last year’s “escape into a beautiful imaginary world” that was a response to clients’ crisis-driven desire for the rare and exceptional.
Also slated for 2022 is the move of Chopard’s New York flagship store, which will be paired with the reveal of a new high jewelry collaboration.
The house will leave the 709 Madison Avenue address it has occupied for 15 years and move into a new 2,400-square-foot home in the Crown Building at the corner of 57th Street and Fifth Avenue.