A FLOWERING TRIUMPH: CHAUMET'S LAUREL TIARA

Chaumet's 'Firmament Apollinien' sapphire and diamond tiara, from its new 'La Nature de Chaumet' high jewellery collection.

Continuing this week on the theme of sapphires, Chaumet has returned to its roots with the launch of a ravishing sapphire and diamond tiara.  It is part of the ‘Natures de Chaumet’ new high jewellery collection and it pays homage to the beautiful Belle Epoque jewels the house created at the beginning of the century.

Chaumet's sapphire, diamond and moonstone laurel ring, from the collection 'La Nature de Chaumet'.

Historically, tiaras are what Chaumet is best known for.  The tiara reached its apogee at the beginning of the 20th century and Chaumet created bespoke pieces for illustrious clients such as the Dukes of Westminster, the Princes Youssoupov, the Vanderbilts and the Empress Eugenie.  The company’s archive in Paris contains hundreds of metal mock ups created for the production of these pieces.

The laurel as a decorative element has been used since antiquity- it was the tree sacred to Apollo, bringer of the Sun and a symbol of triumph and immortality.  The symbolism was not lost on Emperor Napoleon, who famously wore a golden laurel wreath when he crowned himself in Nôtre Dame in 1804.  It was the direct inspiration for a diamond wreath tiara created by Chaumet in around 1885 and this in turn has inspired the ‘Firmament Apollinien’ tiara, as it has been named.

This piece brings together the best elements of the house: an archival motif given a contemporary twist together with the very best of modern craftsmanship.  The piece is transformable into a necklace- important in this day and age when tiaras are hardly worn.  Many jewellery houses producing contemporary tiaras seem to have neglected transformable jewellery- in the Edwardian age it was considered almost essential in a big piece.  Not only does it does it render the piece more versatile, it also celebrates the pinnacle of a craftsman’s abilities.  Transformable jewellery has the added advantage of achieving 20-30% higher prices at auction.

Nickel and handpainted mock ups for tiaras from Chaumet's archive.

The ‘Firmament Apollinien’ is the largest of several important jewels in this laureate line- clients can also browse through beautiful rings, necklaces and bracelets, some set with pink sapphires as an alternative.  These pieces have also been updated with the addition of specially cut moonstones, which adds a dreamlike quality to the collection.  As if a tiara wasn’t dream enough.

Belle Epoque diamond wreath tiara by Chaumet, c. 1885.