For an aesthetic that is still fresh and beloved today, it is pretty hard to believe that Chopard’s Happy Diamonds collection has just turned 40 years old. Indeed a sight to behold, the maison’s concept of sparkling, free-moving diamonds exudes an inexplicable sense of joy that has continued to captivate and surprise throughout an impressive four decades.
This delightful quality belies the design’s sheer originality and unconventionality that remains unsurpassed until today. Copied or referenced umpteenth times, the Happy Diamonds concept has been written into Chopard’s historical legacy as one of its chief creative triumphs and an instrumental part of its wide-ranging design lexicon.
Born in 1976, the concept was the brainchild of Chopard’s in-house designer Ronald Kurowski, who got the inspiration from watching how sunbeams danced across a waterfall during a walk in the Black Forest. Seeking to reproduce the magic of water droplets sparkling under the sunlight with rainbow colours, he dreamt up the concept of leaving diamonds free to float and whirl between two slices of sapphire crystals.
Each diamond was encased in a gold capsule with a bevelled base, allowing the stones to move in any direction, spinning and twirling as they go.
For those who associate Happy Diamonds with feminine creations, it must be astonishing for them to learn that the concept was originally meant for a men’s timepiece. When Chopard stalwart Karin Scheufele saw the first completed Happy Diamonds watch, she exclaimed, “These diamonds are happiest when they are free!” – and thus the collection was named.
Since winning the prestigious Golden Rose of Baden-Baden the same year Happy Diamonds made its debut, the concept has gone on to evolve into a complete watch and jewellery collection, largely thanks to the efforts of Karin Scheufele’s daughter Caroline Scheufele.
The current Chopard co-president and artistic director, Caroline Scheufele was just a teen when she set her eyes on the Happy Diamonds watch. “Being able to see the design and the inspiration come together to be produced into a timepiece was overwhelming and exciting, because the concept of having the diamonds dance between two sapphire crystals was new and refreshing,” she says.
The main person responsible for subsequent expressions of the original concept in jewellery and watch designs that became so warmly embraced worldwide, Scheufele created her first Happy Diamonds piece in the form of a clown with a tummy full of moving diamonds and colourful stones.
The success of this jewellery creation, initially produced as a one-off model for her own personal collection, led to the launch of the Happy Diamonds jewellery line in 1985, marking the beginning of jewellery-making at Chopard. The clown was followed by the elephant, the ladybird, the teddy bear, and of course, Scheufele’s much-cherished heart.
The later Happy Diamonds lines include Happy Sport, Happy Fish, Happy Spirit, Very Chopard, Happy 8, Happy Emotions, Happy Diamonds Good Luck Charms, and Happy Hearts.
This year, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the design, Chopard has launched an unprecedented innovation: a new prong setting for the free-roaming diamonds, which allows the stones to be larger than before, in a variety of sizes. They are featured in a romantic new jewellery collection, named Happy Dreams, that is reminiscent of fluffy clouds in the sky. The watchmaking department also presented a new ladies’ Happy Diamonds Icon watch that pays tribute to Chopard’s heritage by picking up the cushion shape of the very first model.
Recently in town for a VIP event, Scheufele shares her thoughts on her role in the evolution of Happy Diamonds, and the secrets behind its remarkable success.
You’d initially sketched the Happy Diamonds into a clown. What inspired you to do that?
I have always loved the circus and watching the artistes, acrobats, animals, and clowns, especially the clowns because they make people happy. I created my first-ever design when I was 16, and it was a little clown with diamonds and precious stones moving in his belly. My dad saw the design and he had it made in our workshops as a surprise gift for Christmas. Some of our clients saw it and ordered it, and that sparked off the start of the jewellery at Chopard, because before this, we had no jewellery collection, only watches.
It seems that your creative involvement at Chopard began in your youth.
I love drawing and I have been designing since I was a young girl. I grew up in this family-owned company, and so I’ve been immersed in this creative state of mind from a very early age.
Personally, how much do you identify with the concept?
I would define myself as a free-spirited person.
Why do you think the Happy Diamonds concept is such a success and still evergreen in appeal over four decades?
It is such a unique concept that has become an icon, the DNA of the collection. Now the concept is recognisable whether it is expressed in the classic Happy Diamonds line of watches or jewellery, or Happy Sport watches. It is fun and makes people smile. We also keep proposing new designs for Happy Diamonds to our clients, with the latest being Happy Dreams.
What are your first thoughts when you unexpectedly see someone wearing a Happy Diamonds creation?
Happy! I am definitely elated to see someone wearing our Happy Diamonds collection, not only because the person is wearing my own creation, but also because it honours the hard work by the team, the skills of the artisans, the watchmakers’ knowledge, and the whole story behind it.
Talking about the new prong setting for your 40th anniversary collection, please take us through why it was conceived or necessary for the execution of the designs.
We decided to introduce a new prong setting for the 40th anniversary of Happy Diamonds so that the diamonds sparkle even more in their free and playful space, intensifying a wonderful spectrum of light as they spin.
How did you come up with the Happy Dreams idea?
I love clouds, their fluffiness, and the sky. It makes me feel peaceful and happy… I think many share this feeling.
Do you have a favourite Happy Diamonds watch or jewellery item that you always wear?
I don’t have a favourite one, and often it is my latest creation that becomes my favourite of the moment. These days, I usually wear the Happy Hearts collection – two sautoirs and lots of bangles that I love to stack. In terms of watches, I have a crush on the new Happy Diamonds Icon watch, with a square shape, which I wear all the time.
Do you think there is a type of personality suitable for Happy Diamonds, or there is a Happy Diamonds creation suitable for every type of personality?
This collection is very versatile and appeals to different personalities, styles, and ages, which is what makes it so special.
What are you dreaming of creating next for the Happy Diamonds range?
That is a surprise for now! You will have to stay tuned for the launch of the new collections next year!
This article was first published in WOW.