Boucheron’s New High Jewelry Collection Pays Homage to Ceremony, History

CollectionsMar 13, 2024

Boucheron’s New High Jewelry Collection Pays Homage to Ceremony, History

“Power of Couture” recalls Frédéric Boucheron’s love of fabric using diamonds and rock crystal.

Boucheron Power of Couture
Boucheron’s latest “Histoire de Style” high jewelry collection, “Power of Couture,” pays homage to brand founder Frédéric Boucheron, who drew inspiration from precious fabrics.
Paris—For the past four years, Boucheron has released a new “Histoire de Style” high jewelry collection in January, an offering inspired by the house’s archives.

This year’s 24-piece collection, “The Power of Couture,” revisits the couture heritage of brand founder Frédéric Boucheron and highlights his early history through a new approach to ceremonial ornamentation. 

Born in 1830, Frédéric was surrounded by precious fabrics in his youth, which later influenced his approach to jewelry creation. 

His father, Louis Boucheron, worked as a draper in Paris beginning in 1817.

By 1822, Louis began specializing in silk and in 1837, another rare, precious material—lace. 

“Bows, knits, grosgrain, pompoms and lace abound in our archives,” Boucheron Creative Director Claire Choisne said. 

“For this fourth edition of Histoire de Style, I decided to explore the theme of couture, without the fuss.”   

The episode “Boucheron, Couture as Heritage” from the brand’s podcast Boucheron True Stories further details the links between the new collection and Frédéric’s childhood. 

“What [Frédéric] had learned from his father’s shop never left him,” said host Vincent Meylan, a historian and journalist.

“He loved the refined work of fabrics too much to abandon it while entering the jewelry business. Lace was the first of these fabrics to inspire him.” 

In 1858, at 28 years old, Frederic began manufacturing and selling jewelry and trading precious stones. 

As soon as 1860, he integrated lace patterns into his creations, which are seen throughout the Boucheron archives.

In the Power of Couture collection, inspiration for “Le Col,” or “The Collar,” was drawn from a tiara the brand crafted in the 1900s. 

A ceremonial outfit often features a high, rigid and tight-fitting collar, the brand said, that frames the head and symbolizes reason and instinct. 

For this diamond version of a collar, the culmination of 1,900 hours of labor, diamonds are set on thin strands of metal, appearing to float in mid-air.

While the initial impression of ceremonial attire is stiff, Choisne observed that when deconstructed, and reappropriated, the uniform transforms into “an array of sophisticated ornaments.”   

Boucheron Power of Couture diamond collar
The versatile “Power of Couture” diamond collar can be disassembled into two separate necklaces thanks to three inconspicuous fastening mechanisms that keep the pieces secured as a whole.

This paradox is the foundation of the new collection’s bold and unprecedented stylistic interpretation.

Like previous Histoire de Style collections, “New Maharajahs” and “Art Deco,” the jewelry in Power of Couture has Boucheron’s oft-seen traits of multi-wear functionality and versatility, with Choisne describing the latest collection as “a kit” designed with elements that can be arranged to fit individual styles.

As a necklace, the piece resembles a lattice of diamonds and rock crystal. 

When worn as a whole, “Le Col” combines a plastron with a choker, wreathing the face with a mesh of light. 

A pair of earrings were created to match.

Boucheron Power of Couture buttons
Each of the “Les Boutons” feature an old-fashioned spiral-shaped fastener, allowing the wearer to coil each button into the hair or onto a garment to adorn a collar or a sleeve.

“Les Boutons” or “The Buttons” is a set of 15 white gold, diamond and rock crystal buttons that can be worn individually or combined with others. 

They can be used as hair ornaments, actual buttons slipped into buttonholes, or pinned to a necktie.

The contemporary accessories are “a precious punctuation of style,” the brand said.

Boucheron Power of Couture buttons
“Les Boutons” is comprised of 15 white gold buttons set with diamonds and rock crystal.

The buttons coordinate with a ring featuring a frosted rock crystal body and 4.63-carat D-color VVS2 diamond, as well as a pair of adjustable length ear pendants.

They took 120 hours to create.

Choisne’s reimagined epaulettes also can be worn in various ways.

Crafted in white gold with diamonds, “Les Épaulettes,” or “The Epaulettes,” can transform into a pair of bracelets.

Boucheron Power of Couture epaulettes
With “Les Epaulettes,” Boucheron’s artisans sought to sculpt white gold into a rendition of the traditional fabric bands worn on the shoulder to accentuate the shape of a garment.​

While historically used in couture to visually broaden the shoulders and accentuate the build, the epaulettes in Power of Couture are inspired by a diadem crafted in 1902 for Mary of Teck, Princess of Wales. They took 960 hours of work.

A modern white gold tiara set with round diamonds boasts a similar design and coordinates with matching ear pendants.

Ribbons, not surprisingly, also served as an inspiration for Frédéric. 

Versatile and easily shaped into bows for hairstyles or clothing, ribbons added the kind of movement Frédéric sought to convey in jewelry, Meylan said in the podcast. 

A simple bow can also be the perfect pattern to create a brooch. 

Along with lace and ribbons, bows remained a design in Boucheron’s jewelry long after Frédéric’s passing in 1902, according to Meylan.

​ Boucheron Power of Couture bow
Using rock crystal, Boucheron craftsmen shaped a bow with the suppleness of a grosgrain ribbon. It is titled “Le Nœud.”

With “Le Nœud,”or “The Bow,” the result of 2,600 hours of work, Choisne pays tribute to the emblematic couture element that is the ever-versatile bow.

The piece can be worn multiple ways. 

It can transform into a brooch or shoulder adornment and also features a detachable piece that can be worn as a bracelet. The central stone can also be mounted on a ring as a solitaire.

Boucheron Power of Couture bow
Designed with flexibility and discreet fastening mechanisms, Le Nœud, or The Bow, can be worn in different ways.

The piece includes 435 frosted baguette-cut rock crystals, each individually hand-cut and set into the white gold framework. The edges and interior of the bow are set with diamonds, and the centerpiece is a 4.05-carat pear-shaped diamond of F color and VVS2 clarity. 

The matte effect of frosted rock crystal is juxtaposed with diamonds’ sparkle in a play of texture and light to recreate the radiance of grosgrain ribbon. 

Two rings complete the Le Nœud set.  

One features a 5.16-carat pear-shaped D flawless, Type IIa diamond while the other is adorned with rock crystal and a 2.50-carat pear-shaped diamond of D color and VVS1 clarity.  

 Related stories will be right here … 

In pursuit of delicate, supple adornments, Frédéric worked throughout the 19th century to craft gold and stones into couture-inspired elements, the brand said. 

Though Power of Couture shares the same refined lightness as the brand’s earliest fabric-inspired concepts, Choisne opted for a brighter medium for the latest collection—a monochrome palette of rock crystal and diamonds to both temper the baroque character of traditionally gold-tone decorations and bring a visual lightness to the pieces. 

“The difficulty in crafting this collection was to bring the characteristics of fabric to rigid gold and stones,” said Choisne.

For “Le Tricot,” or “The Knit” choker, rock crystal is shaped into a knit design that imitates a fourragère braid.

Boucheron Power of Couture knit choker
In “Le Tricot,” rock crystal was hand-shaped and sandblasted to create the appearance of a knit braid.

To achieve this appearance, the texture of each material was individually sandblasted and linked on cables crafted in nitinol, a nickel and titanium alloy, to form a five-strand choker.

The choker is interspersed with diamond-set links and decorated with a button paved with baguette-shaped and round-shaped diamonds and rock crystal. It also features a 2.01-carat D-color, VVS2 clarity diamond.

It took 1,070 hours to make.

A cuff set with a 1.02-carat D color, VVS1 round diamond matches the Le Tricot choker.

Fourragères, also known as aiguillettes, were a classic motif of French jewelry, and in the 17th century, were depicted in portraits of queens, according to the Boucheron podcast.

Boucheron Power of Couture Aiguillette
Aiguillettes were a classic motif of French jewelry and often showed up in Boucheron’s designs.

In the 18th century, fashion changed and fourragères disappeared, the podcast said, only to come back stronger in the early 19th century in a masculine version on military uniforms.

Napoleon I distributed uniform decorations to his bravest men while conquering Europe, Meylan said, including medals embroidered with gold and adorned with cords of gold thread. 

One wrapped around the shoulder and the other ended with one or more golden aiguillettes hanging, with the weight of the aiguillette keeping the cord straight.

Boucheron Power of Couture Aiguillette
Throughout history, aiguillettes have been symbolic ornaments for the ceremonial dressings of queens and military leaders.

In Choisne’s interpretation, “L’aiguillette,” or “The Aiguillette,” the ceremonial adornment is a neo-Art Deco necklace crafted in braided white gold, rock crystal and diamonds that, of course, can be worn multiple ways.

Two brooches, including one in the traditional drape of the aiguillette, and a frosted rock crystal bracelet detach from the piece.

The necklace is set with a 2.11-carat round diamond, E color and VVS2 clarity.

Boucheron Power of Couture Aiguillette
A pair of pendant earrings were made to match the L’aiguillette diamond necklace.

A coordinating pair of pendant earrings in diamond-paved rock crystal may be worn long or short and can be seen paired with Le Tricot on a model above. 

This piece is the product of 750 hours of work. 

For “Les Broderies,” or “The Embroideries,” Boucheron craftsmen were tasked with reinventing traditional ceremonial embroidery through the shape of a fern, a plant which Frédéric adored.

Boucheron Power of Couture embroideries
The multi-functional “Les Broderies” is a rendition of ceremonial embroidery using white gold with articulations that make the leaves appear supple and allow them to nestle against the body’s curves.​

The leaves are paved with diamonds and set in a white gold frame, appearing to have been shaped by the wind. 

Their versatility comes from a polyvalent fastening system, which also allows the brooches to transform into scintillating hair pieces, the brand said, as demonstrated in the image at the top of the story.

Boucheron Power of Couture embroideries
The reinvented embroidery incorporates the fern, a plant Frédéric Boucheron is said to have adored.

A white gold and diamond fern tiara, as well as two matching pairs of earrings complete the set. 

One pair is asymmetrical, combining an ear-climbing branch with a 1.50-carat pear-shaped E VVS2 diamond.

The piece required 980 hours of labor.

Boucheron Power of Couture Medallion
“Les Médailles” is a necklace comprised of 15 pendants.

Finally, “Les Médailles,” or “The Medals,” is Boucheron’s reinvention of the military honor—a high jewelry necklace, also seen in the photo at the top of the article.

Medals traditionally are worn on the left side of a lapel, close to the heart, the brand said, but in the new interpretation, 15 pendants circle to form a necklace in white gold, rock crystal and diamonds.

The pennants from which the medallions are suspended were created by artisans who shaped 15 crystal blocks, each cut to fit the piece, in a fashion that resembles grosgrain ribbon. 

After cutting the medallions, the craftsmen carved each individual one according to the principle of glyptic art, an age-old savoir-faire that consists of manually engraving crystal in high or low relief, Boucheron said.

Two brooches can be detached from the necklace.

Boucheron Power of Couture Medallion
Each of the medals in “Les Médailles” are engraved according to the principle of glyptic art and contain carved grooves to mimic grosgrain ribbon.

A pair of clip earrings and two rings, including one set with a D-color VVS2 diamond weighing 2.04 carats, complete the Les Médailles set. 

This creation took 2,230 hours to make. 

Lauren McLemoreis the associate editor, gemstones at National Jeweler, covering sourcing, pricing and other developments.

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