Tucked away in the archives of Chaumet are a set of drawings and photographs dating from 1885 to 1938. Depicted on them are four plants – a laurel, a sheaf of wheat, oak leaves and a lily – each adorned with opulent precious stones. They are highly stylised yet exceedingly beautiful: diamond encrusted tiaras circle gently like vines around the crown of a woman’s head; floral brooches come with striking pavé-set ruby hearts; and a diadem brings to mind the pieces which Empress Joséphine, the Parisian house’s eternal muse, cherished most.
It’s clear: Nature is Chaumet’s strong suit. And since its founding in 1870, the brand has effortlessly translated themes of flora and fauna into greatly emblematic collections such as the Hortensia, which is designed after hydrangeas, and offers brooches and rings decorated with vividly-coloured gemstone bouquets; Bee My Love, which reimagines the French symbol of regality as honeycomb patterns on diamond bands and mini pendants; and Attrape-Moi, which captures the movement of spiders, dragonflies and bees as playful motifs on timepiece dials.
Nature is Chaumet’s strong suit.
As an ode to those themes, Chaumet returns to the laurel, the sheaf of wheat, the oak leaves and the lily as the starting points for a new four-part high jewellery collection aptly named La Nature de Chaumet. Part one, Le Laurier, celebrates the evergreen laurel in three mesmerising parures that each include an innovative transformable tiara and cuff watch, supersized necklaces and elegant drop earrings decked with equally striking Burmese sapphires, sculpted moonstone and pink spinels.
Part two, L'Épi de Blé, transforms sheaves of wheat into bijouterie that recall the royal jewels which Chaumet’s late founder Marie-Étienne Nitot created for Empress Joséphine and Napoleon Bonaparte’s second wife, Marie-Louise. There is an ultra-luminous, diamond-encrusted tiara, a cuff bracelet with pretty orangey-pink Padparadscha sapphire accents, vintage-style ’80s yellow gold brooches and even a tourbillon watch.
The final two parts, Le Chêne and Le Lys, elevate the oak leaf and the lily respectively as highly feminine showstoppers. Pieces inspired by the former include a long necklace that cleverly turns into two shorter versions (it is made up of a harmonious display of rosy pearls, violet sapphires and pink spinels) to a pavé-set diamond secret watch. Le Lys comprises a tiara, rings and earrings sporting gems in the most intense colours: voluminous lily blooms are composed of incandescent red spinels and rhodolite garnets juxtaposed with sprinkles of tourmalines in refreshing mint-green hues.