Home Fashion High Jewelry That Channels the Power of Couture

High Jewelry That Channels the Power of Couture


Boucheron’s Histoire de Style high jewelry collection, presented every January, is inspired by pieces in the house’s archives. But this year, for its fourth iteration, it also highlighted a little-known bit of history: the house’s founder, Frédéric Boucheron, was the son of a textile merchant who specialized in silks and lace.

“When I looked at the archives, I saw tons of references to couture — a bow here, a pompom there, a grosgrain there,” said Claire Choisne, the house’s creative director, “but it had never been treated thematically, so I wanted to tie it all together.”

The Power of Couture, as she named the collection, was inspired by the high collars, braiding, fastenings and ornamental braiding (frogging) worn by royalty for ceremonial occasions. And on her mood board was a photograph of a young Prince Philip, in full naval dress, waving to the crowd after Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953. (Last year the collection featured jewels inspired by an Art Deco brooch given to the future queen on her 18th birthday.)

“For a long time, I’ve had this fantasy about playing with the paradox of knitting or braiding with stones,” Ms. Choisne said. “Obviously, it’s a contradiction and it seems impossible but I liked the idea of creating that illusion.”

The first piece she designed was Tricot, a supple five-strand choker. It looks as though it was knitted but, like the rest of the 24-piece collection, the necklace and its matching bracelet were made entirely of rock crystal, diamonds and precious metal.

Each crystal was cut, polished to a matte finish and enameled by hand, then interspersed with diamond-set chevron links on cables of nitinol, a lightweight alloy of titanium and nickel first discovered by the United States Navy. The choker’s central feature was a two-carat diamond set within circles of rock crystal and round- and baguette-cut diamonds.

The two-piece set was priced at 1.6 million euros ($1.7 million) and took a total of 1,070 hours to craft. They were the only pieces in the collection — which Ms. Choisne said she deliberately composed “like a kit” — that cannot be transformed for a variety of wearing options.

For example, the Noeud, or bow, necklace featured 435 hand-carved rock crystal baguettes mounted in white gold to resemble a ribbon bow. It was edged with more than four carats of diamonds and set with a removable 4.05-carat pear-shape diamond pendant. When disassembled, the bow can be worn with the pendant as a brooch, a bracelet or a shoulder jewel, and the pendant diamond can be mounted on a ring. Two other rings completed the Noeud set, priced at €1.9 million.

Ms. Choisne said that, like the hoodie adornment or decorative pocket in Boucheron’s More is More high jewelry collection last summer, most of the jewels in the Power of Couture collection could be worn by anyone, in keeping with current trends on and off the red carpet.

“I found it more interesting to take men’s ceremonial dress and transpose it into something perhaps less intuitive,” she said. “I didn’t approach it piece by piece, because the point of a kit is to let the wearer feel free to compose their own style.”

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