Boucheron – the renowned jewellery label represents colour, voluptuous volumes, textures, and sensuality. A signature that is easily recognisable and cherished by jewellery aficionados, Boucheron’s outstanding style is enhanced by the use of fine, colourful stones and each piece of jewellery and watch is avant-garde in character as it is crafted with skilled pairs of hands at the brand’s atelier. Established in 1858 in Paris by Frédéric Boucheron, the House of Boucheron has constantly been a keeper of highly contemporary tradition at its historic address 26 Place Vendôme, as well as other capitals in the world. A man with a pioneering vision, Frédéric Boucheron was the first jeweler to open a boutique on Place Vendôme in 1893. He cleverly selected the sunniest spot for his showroom to intensify the glitter of precious stones and reveal their sparkle when the sun is at its zenith.
- Necklace imagined by Shaun Leane in homage to Boucheron. Titled Queen of the Night, the necklace created by Boucheron is mounted in blackened gold set with a 15.29-carat purple pear-shaped sapphire. The necklace is further paved with sapphires, white and brown diamonds and rubies. The centre stone is detachable and can be worn separately. Each flower can be opened manually and closed by a system hidden on the stem of each flower. Photo credit: Guy Lucas de Peslouan
The sun shone upon the brand and Boucheron’s fame soon spread across the Seven Seas. In 1928, the Maharajah of Patiala paid a visit to the boutique with six chests full of pearls, diamonds and emeralds to commission jewellery pieces. Over a period of time, other special orders gave birth to outstanding pieces. Crowned heads, including Reza Shah Pahlavi, Czar Alexander III, and Queen Farida of Egypt, wealthy American families and stars from Greta Garbo, Julianne Moore to Kristin Scott Thomas, kept the Boucheron aura shining bright.
The men behind the brand are its talented craftsmen who assert their skills when sculpting gold and other materials such as wood, rock crystal and semi-precious stones. Among the many famous emblems, one that often finds place of honour in most of Boucheron’s signature jewellery and watch designs is the ‘gadroon’ that adds depth to the textures. The brand, renowned as the ‘gold lapidary’, is known for ‘raising’ gold chips to mark the scales of its iconic serpents. For instance, the Quatre line is a coming together of all of Boucheron’s inspirations in four different colours of gold sculpted in gadroons, diamond points, facets and more. What makes Boucheron’s jewellery stand apart is also the selection of gemstones. The brand’s gemstone hunters look for excellent quality and warmth in the stone and the colour and brilliance. It is by an extremely accurate cutting of the stone (often, touching up a few facets is enough) that the ideal spread of colour and the quintessential expression of the matter is obtained. The emotions produced by the stone are more important than its size.
From the opening of its first international store in Moscow in 1898 to Louis Boucheron’s trip to India in 1909 and the opening of the Beijing store as recently as 2011, the House’s fame continues to spread far beyond 26 Place Vendôme. Initiated by Frédéric Boucheron, his love of travel and far-off lands led to spectacular creations which marked the history of the House. Expressing the mutual inspiration between Boucheron and the East, the set of jewels ordered by the Maharajah of Patiala remain the ultimate benchmark of cosmopolitan good taste. Often inspired by the heroines of Eastern tales, Boucheron’s creations such as Sheherazade and L’Orientale reflect a continuing passion for unbounded beauty.
The brand is known for its super speciality talent to sublimate gemstones, first, by carefully selecting the sizes and second, their settings to increase the effect. A fine example of this is Frédéric Boucheron’s revolutionary technique of engraving diamonds in the 19th century with a central diamond surrounded by smaller stones; and the Ava collection perfectly portrays this expertise that is ingrained in every facet, from low-carat pieces to the high jewellery stones as seen in the Ava Scarf. Why Ava? Because the stylish Hollywood actress Ava Gardner was a legend, who epitomized independence, non-conformism, and was a sublime beauty.
Designed in 2002, the Ava line draws its inspiration from fine jewellery pieces, offering jewels that are both simple and precious. Made up of set geometric patterns, like imprints, the collection has been mounted in yellow and white gold with four weights, from 0.25 carat to 1 carat for the central diamond. Everyday beauty is thus enhanced by lines like the Ava, Ava Pivoine, Ava Déco, Ava Mobile, along with the jewel watches Reflet Haute Joaillerie, Carré Haute Joaillerie, Fox Trot, Tango, and Charleston.
Treating the Senses
Over several decades, Boucheron has mastered the art of seduction by capturing the movement in pleats and petticoats, the openwork stitch, lace, pompons and “froufrou”. The Ma Jolie collection is the ultimate embodiment of feminine charms composed by Boucheron into an endless repertoire of shapes and desires. The subtle pastel colours set into “powder-puff” patterns on voluminous double corollas, chains, rings, watches with powder compact cases and hair pin brooches, all extol facets of sensuality. Haute jewellery created in rose and white gold set with a tourmaline and clad with multicoloured sapphires, or in white gold dressed up in diamonds… the collection displays a range of emotions.
This deep sensuality also resonates in the Delilah necklace crafted in 2002. The light-plaited ribbon necklace is inspired by the scarf necklace created by Jean Cocteau for Boucheron.
Some other exceptional jewellery pieces belonging to the same genre of sensuality are Exquises Confidences. Boucheron has been famous for sating the epicurean appetite of women who love life and its excesses. The cutting-edge and delectable line-up of jewels signifies celebration, ecstasy and opulence. The bright coloured macaroons, voluptuous earrings fashioned like candies and stuffed with mouth-watering gemstones belong to the Tentation Macaron and Grains de Raisin collections.
The multi-faceted brand taps various subjects for its story-telling through statement pieces. Focusing on mythological figures like Nefertiti, Eden or Cleopatra, Boucheron has dedicated jewellery to each one of them in the form of a question mark. The brand incorporates volumes and curves enhancedby precious stones in spirals, arabesques or tassels, like the endless dreams from the East. Palatial decorations and the richness of zellige-style patterns can be seen in the Sheherazade line. This sis a creation that is full of movement, glorified by Trouble Desir as well as the talisman watches with a mosaic-style case, designed to tell time on the flying carpet of dreams.
- Inspired by the original Alexander McQueen Novak bag, which was designed to capture the elegance of the 1950s combined with modernity, this limited edition bag incorporates a key element of Boucheron’s bestselling ‘Trouble’ line, a jewelled snake accessory. The collaboration between one of the finest fashion designers and the most established French jeweller results in a unique handbag encompassing the craftsmanship and strength of both brands. Photo credit: Boucheron
Cabinet of Curiosities
As a forerunner of Art Nouveau, Frédéric Boucheron designed airy and naturalist creations inspired by the dancer Loïe Fuller, known as the butterfly woman for some, orchid woman for others. Mixing opal with horn or baroque pearl with ivory, he was one of the first jewellers to sculpt radiant animals. Enamelled diamond beetles, serpents and dragonflies were part of this range, of which the Cabinet of Curiosities is its most contemporary and magnificent interpretation. The Cabinet of Curiosities is enriched every year with new extravagant pieces – a rapacious frog, a bedecked elephant, a sinister beetle, a brilliant chameleon, a graceful swan, an arresting owl among others. In 2011, more than 40 creatures made it to the collection. However, there is one favourite symbol of the House of Boucheron since 1878 – the serpent – that raises its hood time and again in different dazzling forms incorporated in jewellery and watches. In the Trouble gold ring and the Pythie ring, the serpent wraps its body around the stone in a protective manner; the bewitching beauty of the serpent in the Adam necklace gets a warm orange overtone – inspiring the famous Boucheron Question Mark necklace sans a clasp. Wrapping itself around the wrist three times, the 2011 Python bracelet has a retractable forked tongue which, when out, reveals papillae set with stones. As a ring, a bracelet or a serpent, the creature sheds its jewelled skin to appear in a sparkling sculpted gold collection, named Trouble, with rounded volumes and set with diamonds.
Today, Boucheron continues to surprise its enthusiasts with its aesthetic exercises to create one-off, audacious pieces. Whether it is the Hera Tourbillon, a unique piece created in collaboration with the Girard-Perregaux Manufacture (2011), the stunning diamond and sapphire necklace by Marc Newson (2008), the Novak bag designed with Alexander McQueen (2006) or the necklace set with sapphire and diamond flowers conceived by Shaun Leane (2008), elective affinities are at the heart of the Boucheron spirit.