Talk about patience — and nerves of steel. A master craftsman devoted two months, or almost 400 hours, of work to cutting a single diamond for Louis Vuitton. In its trademark Flower cut, the stone is a whopping 30.1 carats. At a party on Wednesday night, Vuitton will unveil that big rock along with its new high jewelry collection, the first designed by Place Vendôme veteran Lorenz Bäumer. His Spirit of Travel collection — consisting of six jewelry sets, each with a one-of-a-kind necklace retailing for up to $2.5 million — will then be unveiled to the public on Oct. 15 at Vuitton’s flagship on the Champs-Elysées.
This story first appeared in the October 2, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The son of a diplomat, Bäumer said he drew on a lifetime of his own travels to create the pieces, which range from a Masai-like necklace of interlocking circles to earrings that evoke the swooping, out-of-this-world architecture of Santiago Calatrava. Since Vuitton’s creative director, Marc Jacobs, introduced a charm bracelet eight years ago, Vuitton has been gradually upping the ante in the fine jewelry department. “Now we’re really becoming serious,” said chief executive officer Yves Carcelle. At present, Vuitton sells fine jewelry in 64 of its 439 boutiques.
Carcelle praised Bäumer, who has designed anonymously for Chanel and Baccarat in addition to his own fine jewelry collection, for pushing the limits. “He’s a very interesting mix of huge creativity and a very realistic sense of business,” Carcelle said. Bäumer said the feats of craftsmanship, and a freewheeling approach to design, are meant to help catapult Vuitton’s credibility in the rarefied world of jewelry. Meanwhile, interpretations of brand hallmarks such as its signature gold and brown colors and the hardware on its trunks will help give the jewelry an identity, he added.
To be sure, Vuitton’s two trademark diamond cuts — in floral shapes mirroring its famous monogram — are luxurious in the extreme. About 25 percent of each rough diamond is lost in the cutting process, in exchange for about 20 extra facets and a diamond, Carcelle said, that you can spot 10 feet away.