For Boucheron‘s latest high jewelry collection, Histoire de Style, creative director Claire Choisne delved into the brand’s extensive archives from the Art Deco period, spanning the ’20s through the ’40s, to turn out jewels fitting for a modern-day Daisy Buchanan.
But this time around, the pieces are meant to be as wearable on free-wheeling femmes fatales as they are on a 21st-century Gatsby. The jewels were created with the intention that both men and women would enjoy them in equal measure. But will gentlemen of means flock to the oldest house on the Place Vendôme for diamond-encrusted statement necklaces, rings and brooches? “To be truly honest, we don’t know yet,” says CEO Hélène Poulit-Duquesne. “But it’s a genuine true and sincere belief from Claire and myself. If you look at history, men have actually been wearing jewelry for the last thousands of years, especially royalty in Europe and Russia, as well as the Maharajas in India. Even in ancient Egypt, the pharaohs wore jewelry. Stones, pearls, everything: They were all part of male culture during those times.”
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It’s not the first time the maison has targeted men. Last year’s high jewelry collection, Contemplation, which debuted in July, featured diamond brooches and earrings shot on male models. But the timing might be right, too. Male celebrities have been donning brooches in increasing numbers on the red carpet. And during Men’s Fashion Week in Paris last month, nearly every runway showed men adorned with statement earrings. While Poulit-Duquesne admits that the U.S. and Europe haven’t yet fully embraced the new wave, Asian men are already comfortable with the concept. “In Asia they are a lot more used to the idea,” she says. “Especially in the last 10 years, the new generation are all wearing jewels, whether they are male or female.”
The piece that connects the historical ties of men wearing jewels to the modern-day trend is the emerald, diamond and onyx necklace inspired by one the house created for the Maharaja of Patalia in 1928. Featuring 220 emerald beads weighing a whopping 1071.97 carats, the necklace was based on an archival image of the Maharaja’s commission. To date, the house has not been able to locate the original and suspects it may have been dismantled over time and sold in parts. According to Choisne, the bespoke piece was the largest special order that Boucheron created for the Indian royal. “The Maharaja was in the Ritz just near Boucheron and he went through the Place Vendome with six Sikh guards carrying cases of stones and we designed 149 pieces for him,” says Choisne. “They were huge pieces full of emeralds, diamonds and tourmalines. They were really spectacular.”
The 2021 version was crafted to create more mileage out of a single piece. The necklace can transform into a shorter version as well as a bracelet and comes with a matching set of earrings and a ring. It’s not alone in its shape-shifting capabilities. Every single piece in the collection is made to convert into multiples, from a diamond and onyx necklace that triples as a more subdued collar or a brooch to a geometric diamond belt that quadruples to be worn as a choker, bracelet or tiara.
While convertible jewelry isn’t new it is definitely in line with how women, if not men, are wearing their gems. These days, high jewelry is no longer reserved for grand galas or swanky cocktail affairs. In Netflix’s new reality series Bling Empire, which follows the real-life “crazy rich Asians” of Los Angeles, the leading ladies can be seen wearing their Boucheron, Dior, Piaget and Louis Vuitton high jewelry (we repeat, high jewelry) in every situation from over-the-top dinner parties to yoga. In one scene, Anna Shay, the billionaire Japanese and Russian grande dame of the show, is even seen diving into a ball pit at a child’s extravagant birthday party in a Boucheron. “Did you see when she jumped in the pool with the question mark necklace?” exclaimed Poulit-Duquesne. “I was like, ‘My god, she’s going to crash it!’”
In another scene, Shay and her arch-nemesis Christine Chiu, wife of Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Gabriel Chiu (reportedly, a descendant of the Chinese Song Dynasty), can be viewed battling over which jewelry house is the oldest—Boucheron versus Mellerio. (For the record, the latter was founded in 1613, while Boucheron was founded in 1858. However, Boucheron is the oldest maison on the Place Vendôme, Paris’ famed jewelry mecca.) But lest you think this is strategic product placement, Poulit-Duquesne says Shay has been a longtime client of the brand and every single piece on the show has been directly purchased by Shay herself.
A century of history separates these women since the debut of Art Deco. But the style, synonymous with an era of excess, is still the perfect statement for those that can still let the good times roll.
Inspired by a necklace Boucheron created for the Maharaja of Patalia in 1928, this necklace is set with 220 Zambian emerald beads, weighing 1,071.97 in carats. It is accented with diamonds, onyx and black lacquer and set in 18-karat white gold and platinum and comes with matching earrings and a ring.
This lariat style necklace set with diamonds is tipped in a 61.34-carat Muzo emerald and set in 18-karat white gold, while the accompanying Bouton diamond and black lacquer Bouton ring in 18-karat white gold and platinum is set with a 7.43-carat cushion-cut Muzo emerald. “It’s quite difficult to have these kinds of stones, so when we have the chance we take it,” says Choisne. “They are difficult to get from Muzo, but we are also difficult with our choice. We love a really specific color. The majority of emeralds are blue inside and we like the old ones with a little bit of yellow inside. Those are much more difficult to find.”
Set in 18-karat white gold, this emerald, diamond and onyx necklace can be worn as a pendant, an elongated pendant or, after detaching its centerpiece highlighted by an 8.02-carat emerald, as a brooch.
A graphic and striking piece, as well as a personal favorite of Choisne, this necklace places 28 horizontal Colombian emeralds, weighing 24.59 carats, in a setting of rock crystal and onyx, shaped like the Place Vendôme. It can be paired with a matching ring with a centerpiece 1.61-carat Colombian emerald.
Typically, you see necklaces that convert into pinnings, but in this diamond and black lacquer trio set in 18-karat white gold, is both two rings (featuring a 1.5-carat solitaire) and a brooch, that can also be worn as a barrette, in one.
Designed in the classic Chevron pattern of the ’20s, this diamond belt converts from a belt (that can be sized for either a man or woman) to a choker, bracelet and tiara in case you need not two or three, but four reasons to justify your purchase.
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