Boucheron celebrates its 160th anniversary with jewellery that combines artistry and high-tech savoir-faire
Boucheron has long been one of the world’s boldest and most experimental jewellery houses. Its founder Frédéric Boucheron pushed the boundaries during the 19th century, designing the Question Mark necklace, the first asymmetric necklace without a clasp and still a key plank of the house style. Its customers have always been the rich, famous and daring, from the crowned heads of Europe to maharajahs and Hollywood royalty.
Current creative director, Claire Choisne has the same pioneering spirit and in the new high jewellery collection, Nature Triomphante, she adds a high-tech spin blending jewellery art with cutting-edge science. The depiction of natural forms, especially flowers, in exquisitely crafted precious metal and rare, important gemstones is a major part of Boucheron’s heritage, celebrated this year for the house’s 160th anniversary in ways never seen in jewellery before. The leaps of imagination, which allow leaves to be interpreted in metal with the accuracy of scanning, or petals to be magically preserved and turned into extraordinary rings, show the sophistication of Boucheron’s mastery in design and craft.
Choisne has taken a branch of real ivy and subjected it to a scan, creating an image of such detailed finesse that turning it into a necklace of titanium with diamonds and cacholong (a type of white opal) requires craftsmanship of the highest quality to make a poetic evocation of snow-rimmed leaves sparkling with frost. Scanning also enables craftsmen to recreate the natural, layered volumes of a flower in goldstone, topped with sparkling aventurine and diamonds for the Fleur de Nuit necklace, with a rope and tassel of delicate violet-blue tanzanite beads. For the Art Deco Fleur Graphique necklace, black lacquer and mother-of-pearl create depth with a rare curved marquetry technique on a detachable brooch centred with Colombian emeralds and nestled diamonds.
Boucheron goes even further into technology. Scientists preserve the most fragile natural items, including individual flower petals, and Boucheron has spent years working with them on a process that converts real flowers into precious jewels. The flower is scanned to record every minute detail and then each petal is treated, by a highly secret method, so its colour and texture are preserved in perpetuity. It can then be mounted on a titanium facsimile of the flower and embellished with prize examples of rare gems to create a unique ring.
The peony has several versions – a pink-orange one has at its heart a toning Padparascha sapphire of over four carats, with black spinels and yellow and violet sapphires, while a more purple one is crowned with a 7.29-carat violet sapphire and pavé diamonds. A coral version surrounds an imperial topaz weighing over eight carats and set in glowing red gold. Open rose flowers are teamed with an orange spessartite garnet, a red garnet or a rubellite, depending on the petal shades, while a deep purple anemone teams with a 5.99-carat violet sapphire and finely engraved yellow gold stamens, and blue hydrangeas have centres of indigolite tourmaline or yellow diamonds. As if these pieces weren’t unique enough, Boucheron envisages clients having a favourite flower – perhaps from their wedding bouquet – made into a ring, taking the intimate personalisation of precious jewellery into a whole new era.
By Avril Groom
A VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE APPEARED IN PRINT IN SELECTIONS #46