Chopard has unveiled its latest collection of haute couture jewellery with pieces so exquisite and heavenly that each seems destined to grace the immortal features of the goddesses on Mount Olympus.
The Red Carpet Collection appears to be straight from ‘Paradise’, the theme of the hand-crafted pieces inspired by the Garden of Eden with rare gem stones that look as if they were plucked from the tree of life itself.
But in this collection, outwardly anyway, there is something of the fun and frivolity of Marie Antoinette and Versailles with the glitter of baroque.
All told there are 74 pieces all designed in Chopard’s Swiss atelier by its team of craftsmen and women under the guiding eyes of artistic director Caroline Scheufele who organises one of the highlights of the annual Cannes Film Festival, the Chopard Red Carpet happening and 1001 Nights theme after party.
In July the Cannes Film Festival represented the first event of its kind to take place since the Covid-19 crisis shut down most of the world. It went ahead despite the spread of the Delta variant which has ravaged France and the rest of Europe this year.
This year marked the 74th festival and Chopard always marks its Cannes Red Carpet collection with the exact number of corresponding pieces.
What is amazing about this collection are the mounts which instead of being made of gold, silver, electron (a mixture of both) or white gold (platinum) are often fashioned from titanium which means the mounts can be delicate and unobtrusive to show off the gems to their best advantage, but also are lightweight to wear which comes in handy for some of the earring jewellery in terms of wearer comfort.
German-born Caroline Scheufele, who is a gemologist by profession and inherited the family business in the 1980s, encourages her team to think out of the box when designing pieces which she says can take an agonising amount of time to conceive and design — anywhere between one and three months.
The work involved is more than meets the eye: some stones have to be sent for cutting to other countries because they are so delicate; one false move could shatter a unique and costly gem forever.
Tests are even done using light, to see how in different lighting conditions the pieces will look — under natural light, evening light, candle light, bright electric or halogen light, etc., – Then and only then will they be cut accordingly.
In an online presentation and interview from Cannes, she explains that jewellery is not only sustainable in its composite parts — precious and semiprecious gems — but also ethically sustainable since Chopard ensures all the gems are ethically sourced and mined by companies which have a proven track-record in sustainable practices.
In fact, Chopard claims it was the first brand in the business to use 100% ethically sourced gold by using ‘Fairmined’ gold from Colombian mines and diamonds sourced from suppliers that are certified by the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) and works closely with the Alliance for Responsible Mining.
Chopard, a family business, began its ‘Journey to Sustainability’ in 2013 and today its latest collection pays homage to not only the elements of fire and water, but the pieces are also inspired by the fruits and verdant garden creations of the earth and which the ‘Paradise’ collection begs the question is paradise an unobtainable, ephemeral creation beyond the reach of most mere mortals except the super wealthy — which clearly it is – or will these pieces, at least some of them, eventually be loaned to exhibitions where the general public can admire, enjoy and reflect on the natural beauty and paradises here on earth which have influenced these elemental creations?
Apart from the obvious connection of high-profile film celebrities who are adorned with these fabulous creations, from Julia Roberts to Kingsley Ben Adir, the Cannes Film Festival is also close to Caroline Scheufele’s heart because she adores the creation, glamour and mystique of cinema.
This year even the Palme d’ Or Trophy awarded for Best Film and the Mini Palme for Best Short Film were designed by Chopard.
Actually, Scheufele loves to tell the story of Julia Robert’s who turned up at the Red Carpet event one year wearing only one of the earrings which had been assigned to the actress to showcase. Believing one had dropped on the ground by accident, the jewellery house’s security team was crawling all over the carpet to find the gem. The actress had simply decided to opt for one since her hair creation hid one ear, making the need for both earrings superfluous.
Some of the pieces in this year’s collection reflect fire and water with the flames of fire as well as waves inspired by the sea, others are suspended in the silvery titanium which weighs practically nothing.
Inspired by nature
Enamel, fire opals and sapphires have been used in some creations and there is a lot of references to nature which is always a core reference for the jewellery house which believes we have to respect nature and to work with and around it and not against it in an exploitative way.
The plight of the endangered majestic elephant, whose ivory tusks would have once adorned such creations in another time and epoch, is brought to the fore in one stunning pieces in the form of a broach which linked by a thin, frail chain, suggesting the unbalanced fragility of existence these massive creatures have with mankind in their endangered environment of the African Savannah which is, in itself, a paradise which could soon be lost.
So, the message is clear. Paradise is not just the heavenly beyond. It is here and now and we must be the guardians to protect it. If not, the elegant pieces of the future fashioned by this house will simply reflect man’s vain folly in destroying natural beauty and be an outward symbol of mourning for paradise lost.