COLLECTOR’S CURRENCY: Boucheron and the Monnaie de Paris have linked to make a series of limited-edition coins, including a 1-kilo (35.3-oz.) pure gold coin in the shape of an emerald-cut stone, with references to the high jewelry house including the Place Vendôme, ivy vines and a diamond encrusted leaf.
The collaboration, which coincides with the jeweler’s 160th anniversary, is meant to celebrate French luxury traditions and follows similar projects with other prestigious French institutions including Sèvres-Cité de la Céramique, Baccarat, Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and French chef Guy Savoy. Working with Savoy, the mint issued a rose-gold pan featuring a black truffle and fried egg while it reinterpreted Marie Antoinette’s milk bowl with the Sèvres-Cité de la Céramique. The Cartier collaboration resulted in a coin stamped with the Taj Mahal, complete with a diamond-encrusted dome.
The Boucheron collection includes gold and silver coins, some in the shape of an ivy leaf, limited to a thousand or fewer copies with coins ranging from 10 euros to 5,000 euros, while their purchasing prices start at 75 euros for the 10-euro coins and run up to 130,000 euros for the 5,000-euro one.
“I push younger generations to take up the exercise of pushing boundaries—we do round shapes, yes, of course—we know how to do round shapes, we have been doing them for a 1,000, 500 years! But why not do other things, why not broaden the universe of the mint?” said the Monnaie de Paris’ art director Joaquin Jimenez, tilting a silver, leaf-shaped coin, intricately engraved to emulate stone encrusted surfaces seen on high jewelry pieces from Boucheron. The pieces were on hand for viewing at a lunch event at the Guy Savoy restaurant in the Monnaie de Paris.
“If we explore new territory that also interests young engravers, that speaks to them and says ‘there’s a future here, there’s something to do here, we’ll work in three-D,’ we can manage to bring in new generations that will be interested in it, and not just their iPhones,” he added.
He pointed to an engraving of the Place Vendome on one of the larger pieces: “You can see all the windows!”
For Boucheron, the collaboration offered a view of how another historic French institution works with precious metals.
“With high jewelry, we are extremely precise, but actually, they are even worse,” said Claire Choisne, creative director of Boucheron. While the jewelry house can spend thousands of hours on a piece, she noted, an imprint at the Paris Mint, while it takes extensive preparatory work, is instantaneous.
“You are allowed one stamp,” chimed in Boucheron chief executive officer Hélène Poulit-Duquesne, who noted the two historical institutions quickly found common cultural ground, with both in the business of preserving traditions and techniques of working with metals.
Choisne was still gushing about the view from Jiminez’s bureau, on the upper floors of the historic building that lines the Seine River, while allowing the view from Boucheron offices, overlooking Paris rooftops and the Place Vendome column, are not so bad either.
“We had a bit of an office competition,” she laughed.
The jewelry house is restoring its historic flagship on Place Vendôme, which is due to open in the coming months, with a celebration planned for early next year.
“For me it’s much more than a store. People talk about reopening a store but I think it’s more than a store—it’s the house of Boucheron, that’s how we briefed the architects…it’s the history of our house,” said Poulit-Duquesne.
Boucheron’s links with the Monnaie de Paris go beyond the collaboration as the house is also contributing to renovation works at the historic Paris Mint that sits on the Left Bank of the Seine River, where space behind the main building is being rebuilt into a public garden, due to open next year.