From the ancient times up to this very day, jewelry has become a symbol of wealth, status, prominence, and elevated style—and who would have exuded all of this better than the royalty, right? Hence, it is a given that we look back in the glorious days of monarchy to better understand jewelry made by a few royalty-handpicked designers. Among such specially chosen designers and brands is Chaumet, a high-end jewelry brand that has proven its worth among the royalty and prestigious clients for more than 230 years now.
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Two centuries of rich history
The long story of the brand started with a jewelry genius named Marie-Étienne Nitot. Nitot, the founder of the brand, worked for the royalty during the reign of King Louis XIV. He was the official court jeweller that made pieces for the King and his wife Queen Marie-Antoinette. During that time, he gained a lot of noble and famous clients as well, including Joséphine de Beauharnais, who later on became Napoléon Bonaparte’s first wife. When Napoléon finally became the first French Emperor, Nitot and François-Regnault, his son, became his official jewelers.
Even when Nitot died and Napoléon married Austrian Princess Marie-Louise d’Autriche, his son continued the jewelry business. However, François Regnault later on sold it to Jean-Baptiste Fossin who worked with his son, Prosper, throughout the latter part of the 19th century. Then by 1885, a jeweler named Joseph Chaumet became Prosper’s son-in-law and then later on the successor of the jewelry house.
Chaumet proved his expertise and ability to manage the jewelry house, which he then renamed to bear his very own surname. It was then the name that has lasted for countless of years, surviving through the challenging times and remained as a high-end luxury brand until today.
Historic and prestigious headquarters
Chaumet continued to produce grand and fabulous pieces that took inspiration from nature-inspired scroll work and Japanese art. Through this, the label was able to impart something to the exotic Art Nouveau and later on landed an address that’s been known all over the work as a prestigious location—the 12 Place Vendôme. It became the headquarters of the jewelry house, with a Grand Salon that became historic as the Opus 68, No. 4, Chopin’s last Mazurka was composed there.
At that same address, the brand created watches and jewelry that catapulted its name to fame, even becoming known as the brand that showcased the Parisian elegance through jewelry. It is where all the sketches turn into brilliant jewelry pieces adorned with special stones picked out carefully by expert gemologists. It was somehow a laboratory that housed the innovative and creative works of the label, including the cutting of gems into either emerald cut, brilliant, oval, cusion, or Chaumet’s signature cut, the pear. All craftsmen of the house—setters, polishers, jewellers, and engravers work their magic to carry out the intricate process in producing the house’s elegant pieces.
Rising again after the fall
After the challenges of the Great depression and the World War II, the jewelry house reopened with the grandsons of Chaumet taking over as executive directors: Pierre and Jacques. One of the biggest projects of Chaumet during that time was expanding to horology, and the acquisition of a Swiss high-end watch brand, Breguet. Although this was a successful venture, the house has a lot of debt that forced it to declare bankruptcy eventually. After just a few years, the brand got into another problem when both Pierre and Jacques were imprisoned for charges of fraud and bank-related illegal activities.
The house then was bought by an investment company, Investcorp, then eventually, the LMVH (Louis Vuitton, Moët, Hennessy) which still owns the jewelry brand until today. Through the management of LMVH, Chaumet started rising up again as a high-end brand alongside other labels under the group, including: DeBeers, Christian Dior, TAG Heuer, and others. In fact, the brand continues to reinvent itself to match the demands of the current market, in order to remain relevant despite its “old age”.
Part of the brand’s current efforts include changing how the public views it—as a brand that’s past its prime. Its current CEO, Jean-Marc Mansvelt talks passionately about renewing the perception of the public about the brand. That while it has a long and rich history, it is a brand that provides elegantly unique pieces that can offer a certain level of distinction from what are often offered nowadays. In 2015, the brand decided to open its headquarters in Place Vendôme to serve as a semi-permanent museum, to help the public see more about the brand.
The passion for jewelry-making continues
Currently, the expertise, history, prestige and passion kept within the brand still serve as the main ingredients in its jewelry-making process. Although more modern expression of these can be seen inthe pieces, the grace and elegance of the pieces that adorned the royalty centuries ago are still very apparent to the items that jewelry-lovers can purchase from the brand. It is such a great iconic quality that clients love about Chaumet and make them come back for more.
LMVH continues to be the main hand developing the brand and its stores that are nearing 100, all situated in strategic cities all around the world. Chaumet also continues to become a responsible jeweler, with its sources and processes always in compliance with the Kimberley Process and the Responsible Jewellery Council.