Chaumet Imperial Treasures
One regal universe, 45 exceptional jewels. Chaumet delves into the life of its first muse for the Josephine ou l’art du style high jewellery collection.
French Empress Josephine had real character. At the height of the decadent 19th-century Empire style, the royal figure expressed herself like no other woman of her time. Instead of the majestic eagle, she opted for a softer, swan-like motif to decorate her furniture. While people made merry under the cool shade of the marble palace, she basked amid the sparkle of nature (the Empress was an avid gardener, if you must know), and as brocade became popular in fashion, she embraced, instead, the delicate transparency of muslin.
Her taste in gems wasn’t typical either. Spectacular stones were not all that mattered. Empress Josephine saw jewelry as precious objects that exemplified her most cherished moments in life and, most importantly, her love for Napoleon Bonaparte. Red-colored stones, for instance, were known to represent her affection for the Emperor. In fact, the pair would commission troves of special orders from Marie-Étienne Nitot, Parisian jeweler and Chaumet founder. These included opulent regalia such as the consular sword set comprising the extraordinary 140.64-carat Regent diamond, tiaras, necklaces and bracelets.
Along the way, Empress Josephine and Nitot developed an unspoken, mutual trust, and, even as the woman became the one patron that every European luxury house dreamt of having, she chose Chaumet.
Empress Josephine is now the inspiration of Chaumet’s latest high jewelry collection, Josephine ou l’art du style, which stars 45 exceptional pieces that sum up her life. Rondes de Nuit stars an exquisite array of baguette-cut diamonds arranged around a large, pear-shaped diamond on earrings and pendants. Aigrette Imperiale has openworked rings resembling the tufted crest of an egret and splashed with colours that recall the Empress’ passion for gardening, and Eclat Floral is an extensive range of ultra-feminine wedding bands, tiaras and timepieces designed as an ode to Josephine’s beauty and grace.
Text by Kenny loh
This story was first published in L’Officiel Singapore.