Wife of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and the first Empress of France, Joséphine de Beauharnais is Chaumet’s eternal muse. A constant source of inspiration for the maison’s collections, with an entire family of jewels dedicated to her, she was its first major client. Spending much time putting herself at the forefront of fashion, she donned the finest robes and jewellery when appearing in public. Napoleon himself acknowledged: “I win battles, but Joséphine wins hearts.”
Expressing the multiple facets of her personality, Chaumet’s latest Joséphine collection reveals her as a style icon with exquisite taste. A symbol of the modern woman, she displayed a strong character and stood out thanks to her elegance, audacity and contemporary femininity, which she applied to the masculine, geometric aesthetic of Neoclassicism.
The new line completely reflects the spirit of the times: rather than focusing on large statement pieces, the house takes a more avant-garde approach and shines the spotlight on light, airy designs meant to be worn throughout the day.
The pear cut — which Joséphine was especially fond of — takes pride of place in the Ronde d’Aigrettes series of rings, earrings, bracelets and necklaces in rose or white gold. We find asymmetrical, pear-shaped horizontal clusters of round brilliant-cut diamonds that appear to be dancing, swaying to the left or right or placed upside down. The well thought-out rings have been designed to be perfectly stacked — not one on top of another, but slightly offset, yet in complete harmony — while the necklaces come in a variety of minimalist drop pendant combinations.
Although the pieces are adorned primarily with diamonds, aquamarine notes periodically surface on a pendant, ring and earrings; these may be matched with the new diamond-set variations of the Aigrette rings, which feature a distinctive plumed headdress shape that may be worn alone or as a stack, some embellished with delicate pearls.
However, it is the dainty Aigrette watch beating with a Swiss quartz movement — continuing the house tradition of time-telling jewels — that steals the show. It’s conceived as an everyday watch housed in a pear-shaped, white or rose gold case. Customers may choose from a full diamond pavé or a white or black dial engraved with graphic facets showcasing a diamond index at 12 o’clock, with or without a diamond-set bezel.
The watch’s black leather or satin strap wraps around the wrist in a unique way. No need to fiddle around with clasps or buckles — just slip it on via an opening at the tip of the teardrop, thereby reflecting the essence of Joséphine, who had imposed on the French court a new way of dressing and thinking outside the lines.
In the Valse Impériale parure, a tiara, necklace, earrings and ring pay homage to the art of lightness — a trademark of the maison’s creations — through its signature fil-couteau technique.
These jewels reference the grandeur of court festivities and the unforgettable bond Joséphine had formed with Napoleon, of which Chaumet is celebrating the bicentenary of his death this year.
Reminiscent of the engagement ring presented by Napoleon to Joséphine but with a modern twist, the Duo Éternel toi et moi ring with a central, pear-shaped sapphire and diamond rounds off the collection, offering a final reminder of their enduring love story.