There is a story that the people at the House of Chaumet in Paris love to tell.
According to legend, more than two centuries ago, a young jeweller by the name of Marie-Etienne Nitot, who had a shop on a street called Saint-Honore in Paris, happened to catch a runaway horse by the bridle.
Sitting astride the horse was Napoleon Bonaparte, who was the French consul at that time. Years later, when the leader became the Emperor of France, he appointed Nitot as his official jeweller.
Ever since, generations of kings, queens, actors, new-age celebrities and millionaires have worn Chaumet creations. Its history, they say, is interwoven with that of France’s and its philosophy epitomises the country’s obsession with perfection and the finest of what life has to offer.
Today, Chaumet continues its reign in the luxury jewellery domain. With more than 45 exclusive stores around the world, including Dubai, and 300 other points of sale, catering to the rich and famous, its tradition of painstaking dedication to every creation remains the same, ever since it was established in 1780.
This is apparent at its flagship store at 12 Place Vendome, in the centre of Paris. The firm’s headquarters since 1907, the classified historic monument also houses Chaumet’s jewellery museum and design studios. At the entrance of the museum is a portrait of Empress Marie-Louise, painted in 1812 by Robert Lefevre. In the painting, the French Empress, and second wife of Napoleon, wears jewels designed by Nitot, Chaumet’s founder.
The museum houses some of Chaumet’s collection of tiaras, stone-encrusted combs, earrings and necklaces and bracelets.
There are more than 38,000 glass plates kept since the earliest days of photography, 300,000 original prints and 80,000 drawings of jewellery dating back to some of the most glorious centuries in history. Correspondences with customers, including presidents, princesses and celebrities of bygone eras and the present are also entered in the inventory books.
If you stay at the InterContinental Paris - Le Grand, you can request an insider’s tour of Place Vendome, which is not usually opened to visitors.
Beatrice de Plinval, an experienced designer, joined the House of Chaumet in 1969. Today, in charge of the Chaumet heritage and external relations, she is guardian of a tradition that has proudly, over the ages, dedicated itself to the creation of some of the most beautiful pieces of jewellery.
“There is passion, history and the desire for perfection in each and every piece we create,” she says. “This is a philosophy that has been passed down generations, for more than 200 years and we want to keep it that way.”
There are now six main jewellery and watch collections expressed through the same Chaumet philosophy. From white gold, diamonds, sapphires and pearls, every piece of jewellery in the latest collection rhymes with poetry, tenderness and femininity, says the jewellery maker. Dandy, a collection of watches, cufflinks and bracelets for men is, according to its designers, a tribute to the modern man imbibed with the Chaumet heritage.
Chaumet: the epitome of French chic