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"CHAUMET, A Golden Age 1965-1985" exhibition

by Julie MIALET 21 Nov 2023

What strikes you when you enter the first room of the "Chaumet, Un Âge d'Or: 1965-1985" exhibition at 12 Place Vendôme is the incredible tapestry by Vassarely hanging on the wall and the animals from the "Bestiaire fabuleux" designed in collaboration with Baccarat between 1970 and 1971. All this is accompanied by a soundtrack alternating between Bowie, The Doors and Vangelis, which immediately takes us 50 years back in time....

If you're nostalgic of the 70's seventies and love fine jewellery, this exhibition is for you...

Entering the Salon Chopin, with its plunging view of the Vendôme column, its gilding and monumental woodwork listed as historic monuments, is like entering the Pompidou family home at the Elysée Palace. There are lithographs by Andy Warhol, a Bulle TV, a sofa and a light table by Pierre Paulin.

The exhibition continues with jewels signed by the famous house rubbing shoulders with videos from the INA, a Paco Rabanne dress, a very 'Star Wars' wedding dress by Dior as well as photographs and drawings from the Chaumet collection.

Among the selection of jewellery on show are some 140 iconic pieces made between the years 65 and 85, demonstrating a bold, unbridled and avant-garde creativity that witnessed a minor revolution in the codes of French jewellery.

Metalwork is being reinvented, and designers and artistic directors, in search of new forms, are coming up with multiple techniques and different textures, creating "Arcade polish" and mirror polish, which brighten up the traditional polished, chiselled, matt or brushed effects of yellow gold.

The more brutalist "wild gold" is worked by alternating matte and raw areas.

Wild Gold Sautoir, Lapis-Lazuli, Tiger Eye, Malachite and Coral, 1972 Chaumet Héritage Collection

Pierre Sterlé proposed braided gold, while René Morin imagined "hammering" it or "cracking" it in the "Pierre d'Or" collection.

 

We also saw the use of bronze and the explosive mix of gold and mother-of-pearl, like in the "panther" necklace clutching in its mouth a mother-of-pearl flower from an enormous raw block.

The overall impression is one of opulence: many beautiful and important pieces of jewellery, which today would be difficult to wear because they are so sculpted and heavy in gold.

"Flore" Necklace, Textured Gold and Turquoises, Chaumet Héritage Collection

Amid this profusion of unique pieces, we must turn our attention to the two talented artistic directors of the period, René Morin and Pierre Sterlé.

René Morin joined the company as artistic director in 1962. An avid gemologist and hunter, he was inspired by everything, especially rough and hard stones: lapis lazuli, malachite, tiger's eye, slices of tourmaline and even turquoise, the same stones that feature on a beautiful pineapple set. In collaboration with Baccarat, he created a fabulous Bestiary made up of thirty-seven animals.

Pineapple Pair of Earrings, Yellow Gold, Turquoises and Diamonds, 1977, Mahnaz Collection, New York

When L'Arcade opened in 1970, it was a new kind of shop, part jewellery gallery, part concept store before its time, and he even dared to create XXL jewellery sets in textured yellow gold known as "arcade polish".

In 1977, he designed "Liens d'Or", one of the brand's first collections, and still one of its best-sellers today.

Pierre Sterlé arrived in 1976 and explored the themes of flora and fauna.

Since 1934, he had been creating jewellery under his own name for various jewellers on the Place Vendôme. Elegant, refined and sophisticated, his style asserted itself throughout the 1940s and 1950s.

These bird brooches bear witness to this: the body often made of hard stones, the gold wings worked like angels' hair, the whole airy and refined. He is considered the "couturier of high jewellery". He will also be offering a ring with interchangeable stones, to match his outfits and his moods.

Bird Brooch, Yellow Gold, Platinum, Labradorite and Diamond, 1966, Private Collection

With this retrospective, Chaumet is proving that a historic Haute Joaillerie house, 240 years old, has nonetheless been able to be at the cutting edge of creative innovation, breaking down the barriers of classic design that have characterised it until now.

 

If you are interested in Chaumet’s jewels, don’t hesitate to discover what les Pierres de Julie have to offer in the store…

We are also available for any free expertise of your Chaumet jewelry, for that you can send an email with your photos to contact@lespierresdejulie.com.

Whether you're interested in buying a piece of jewellery or a stone, a free jewelry appraisal or jewelry resale, Pierres de Julie welcomes you to its Parisian boutique in the Village Suisse, a stone's throw from the Ecole Militaire and the Esplanade des Invalides.

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