Business CEOs are elusive figures within the world of luxury, however Jean-Marc Mansvelt, CEO at Chaumet, likes to keep things intimate. This is a rare and precious quality, just like his stones. Whenever the world feels fragile, it’s comforting to turn to history for the answers. Here, 5' ELEVEN'' looks to Chaumet for lessons of the past that we can use to drive our future.
Words by Charlie Newman. Portrait courtesy of Chaumet.
Grooming by Christabel Draffin using NARS Cosmetics.
Most brands cringe when confronted with a pandemic, but not the Parisian fine jewellers, Chaumet, for whom Covid-19 is just a small bump in their impressive 240-year journey. The high-end jewellers was always destined for greatness as it was originally founded in 1780 by Marie-Antoinette’s jeweller, Marie-Étienne Nitot. In less than two decades, Nitot was catapulted to fame when Napoleon commissioned him to design a coronation sword and a papal tiara for Pope Pius VII. A good relationship between the Emperor and the jeweller was quickly formed and Nitot became not only the Imperial Court jeweller but also a personal jeweller to Empress Joséphine.
An International reputation soon followed and the Maharajas of Baroda and Indore bought from Chaumet in the early 1920s. And it is these profound and enduring relationships that have kept the brand alive throughout the eras. Whilst most major jewellers turn opt for celebrity endorsements and marketing ploys to ensure longevity, Chaumet have chosen a more exclusive and authentic method. “Our approach is not to have ambassadors but more to build long-term friendships with important faces.” These faces include South Korean actress Song Hye Kyo and Chinese music producer, singer, dancer and actor, Lay Zhang.
That’s not to say you have to be a royal descent to enjoy Chaumet! Throughout the pandemic, the house looked after their long-serving customers with regular calls and texts – an unusual service in today’s digitally distanced world. Surprisingly, they also gained “new connections with new customers who were willing to celebrate their relationship... to celebrate their love and attachment through sentimental jewellery which had true meaning.”
If donning high jewellery feels inappropriate right now, Chaumet encourages a more modern approach to wearing precious stones, “high jewellery is not always to be worn to go out, for fancy dinners and parties in public, it can be more intimate and have a truer meaning. Also, high jewellery can be an investment for the long-term and should not be necessarily linked to its wearable function.” If you still need some convincing, Chaumet offer a range of styles to suit anyone’s taste, “In the Joséphine collection, you can find some fancy pieces like the Joséphine Valse Impériale, but also more sentimental high jewellery like the Duo Eternal set.” Even the Joséphine Valse Impériale tiara has a contemporary feel, “it has this kind of sobriety... The fil-couteau technique [does] not show off at all but brings this lightness and gives the impression that the diamonds are almost floating. This tiara embodies how the Maison can mix tradition and modernity.”
This is a piece's extract. Find out the full version in the Spring Summer 2021 Issue 6.