Tell us about the “Chaumet in Majesty” exhibition.
It’s an exhibition presenting many masterpieces, but of course, above all, the tiara because we’re here in Monaco and it’s a story of kings, queens and princesses. But also, the tiara is a huge part of Chaumet’s history, since its foundations with Napoleon and Empress Joséphine. So it’s an interesting story because it’s not only a question of power, but also love, symbolism and the transmission [of jewellery] from one generation to another.
I heard that this is the biggest showcase of tiaras that Chaumet has ever organised. What was the most challenging aspect of putting this together?
Building an exhibition is like telling a story to someone and wanting them to be [involved with] the story; to be a part of that story. It’s wanting them to feel several emotions and think incredible thoughts as they hear the whole story, which [in this case] is their visit to the exhibition. When you write a book or make a movie, you want to have made [an impact] in their lives, especially if it’s about jewels. It’s personal because we all have [experienced] that kind of story: A mother giving jewellery as a present to her daughter, or a woman giving a necklace to her best friend… So the challenge is telling that story and making sure it’s one that touches people’s lives.
Chaumet debuted its 2019 thematic collection, Les Ciels de Chaumet, last week. How does that collection tie in with the patrimony of Chaumet?
What is incredible is that we can see from the beginning, more than 200 years ago, that we have the same sources of inspiration. From Le Ciels to the wheat, laurel and flower, these symbols are present in our history and remain a source of inspiration today. We really work hand in hand with our workshop and when we build exhibitions such as this one, and have historical pieces arrive, we have the expertise of the Chaumet workshop to be able to restore them, if needed. And for the workshop, it’s so incredible and emotional to be able to handle historical pieces that may also be a new source of inspiration in the next years.
From top: Empress Marie‑Louise’s “Gothic” belt (1813) in gold with pearls and an onyx cameo. A replica of Empress Marie‑Louise’s ruby and diamond crown (circa 1811). The exhibition space at Monaco’s Grimaldi Forum. A bowknot tiara (circa 1890) by Joseph Chaumet, featuring pink topazes
BY CHARMAINE HO