Model wearing large jewelled necklace

The creations of quintessentially Parisian jewellery maker Chaumet may have been fit for an empress in the late 18th century when the company was founded. But the jeweller aspires to be equally at home with the modern woman around the world. CEO Jean-Marc Mansvelt tells Irene Bellucci how they make the new out of the old
portrait of a man in a suit wearing glasses

Jean-Marc Mansvelt

“For me, luxury is about craftsmanship and excellence. But it’s more than functionality – it’s also about emotion. And luxury transcends fashion, too; it takes time to invent, create and make.

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“Chaumet’s founder Marie-Etienne Nitot trained under the jeweller to Marie Antoinette, and after the Revolution became Napoleon Bonaparte’s official jeweller in 1805. This led to numerous commissions from the great and the good, including jewels for Empress Joséphine, after whom one of our most iconic collections is named. The brand’s tiaras went on to be worn by queens and rulers across the globe.

Vintage diamond tiara

Laurel Leaf Tiara by Joseph Chaumet (1920)

“Yet, our history isn’t enough to sustain us in the 21st century; consumers’ tastes have changed as has the function of jewellery itself. Nowadays, a tiara is not really worn beyond special and rare occasions, so in 2010 we reinvented them by moving them from head to finger for our Joséphine ring collection. Once they were crowns expressing power, but now we have brought them into the modern era in a more delicate and wearable form.

“But not all of our pieces are reinventions. We try to mix tradition and contemporary art; we also like to look to the world of music for ideas. In referring just to the past, the risk is that we will repeat ourselves – we need to inject new elements into the process.”

View the collections: chaumet.com

This article was originally published in the Spring 2020 Issue