For 230 years this great name has been creating sublimely elegant adornments unaffected by eras and vogues. We learn more from atelier director Pascal Bourdariat.
"Chaumet is special in that it is built on its artisans' knowhow […]," explains Pascal Bourdariat, the jewellery house's twelfth atelier director. "It is essentially classical and ageless but with originality: from an exceptional heritage we create jewellery in tune with the times. Our collection of archives and old photos is unique in the world, for example it includes the Villa Médicis's Grand Prix de Rome drawings. The design team draws inspiration from these, updates them, while also paying close attention to what women want and expect." This is a world both grounded in its era and where time stands still, one of which Bourdariat is "the conductor. I work with 12 people – stone-setters, polishers, workshop manager etc. – for whom I set the pace, provide ideas and direction, suggest maquettes. But it's still teamwork. Our artisans are always seeking to improve and they have built up a collective memory that is Chaumet's. Even though a client tells us what they want, there are codes to be respected." Bourdariat sees himself "at the service of my creatives"; he believes "jewellery expresses feelings. These are special objects that deliver a message, a way of communicating."
An artist at heart, Bourdariat always wanted to practise a manual craft. His decorator father and diamond-cutter uncle passed on to him their love of objects and creating, and enrolled him in jewellery school. Today he strives to measure up to the role entrusted him, happy to represent the house of Chaumet and to add his personal touch to it. "This is a job of passion. Everything is done by hand. We start with a sketch then move on to a maquette as we try to imagine how the finished piece will look. We uphold Chaumet's knowhow through certain techniques and by immersing ourselves in its spirit – we have to preserve a logic in products that represent the brand and are exported worldwide. But the special pieces are always artistic creations that each jeweller interprets in their own way by infusing them with a little more soul; the artisan's craftsmanship gives the added-value. These creations showcase our knowhow." In this, Chaumet's speciality is tiaras, more than 3000 of which have been made. "They are ornaments of beauty, not power; exceptional pieces that technically are full of problems but give our creativity a free rein. […] The kind of products that make us proud. Fine jewellery is a French speciality and still fires the entire world's imagination."
Alexandre Benoist & Lise Irlandes-Guilbault