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Josephine Napoleon, an (extra)ordinary story at the Chaumet Museum

by Julie MIALET 13 Apr 2021

Josephine and Napoleon, a story that continues to fascinate…

On the occasion of the bicentenary of the death of Napoleon I, the grand salons of the Chaumet house, at 12 Place Vendôme, are hosting the exhibition “Josephine Napoleon, an (extra)ordinary story”.
Chaumet offers us the immense pleasure of immersing ourselves in the legendary love story between Napoleon (1769-1821) and the Empress Josephine, Josephine de Beauharnais (1763-1814).


inside the Chaumet House on Vendôme Place


Through the “memories” of the jeweller Marie-Etienne Nitot and his son François-Regnault, founders of the Chaumet company, we can better imagine the passionate relationship between Napoleon and Josephine, sublimated by jewellery creations, such as the “Epis de blé” tiara made by Nitot in 1811. The ear of wheat, attribute of Ceres, goddess of the harvest, symbolises fertility and abundance.


Josephine’s wheat ear tiara


The exhibition unveils more than 150 pieces of jewellery, paintings, objets d’art and correspondence from private collections and cultural institutions, most of which have never been shown to the general public…

Josephine’s jewellery collection was immense. She was a great spender, adorning herself with pearls, intaglios and even matching her jewellery to the tone of the room she was in (how chic!).

My first favourite of the exhibition is the set with malachite cameos, comprising a comb diadem, two necklaces, a pair of bracelets, a brooch, a pendant and six hairpins, from the box of Queen Amélie of Brazil, Empress Josephine’s granddaughter.

Gold, malachite, fine pearls and tortoiseshell set, attributed to Nitot, Empire period, Napoleon Fondation – Paris.


My second favourite is the set of micro mosaics, pearls and gold created by Chaumet in 1811.



micro mosaic set


An empress of style, Josephine reinvented fashion. To complete her look as a sovereign, she brought tiaras, a symbol of power and majesty, back into fashion.

A mythical couple in French history, the destiny of the Emperor and the scandalous Josephine seemed to be sealed ad vitam aeternam, but the reason of State was stronger. On 15 December 1809, Josephine asked for a divorce: her infertility ruled her out of the throne …. And with her, the emperor’s fate also took a tragic turn…
Although Napoleon remarried Marie Louise of Austria in 1810, the rout of the Russian campaign in 1812 was to be his swan song.
He abdicated on 6 April 1814.

Thus the love story between Napoleon and Josephine also led to a long relationship between Josephine and the House of Chaumet. This can still be seen today with the magnificent Joséphine collection, which never ceases to amaze…

Painting of the coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte

If you are interested in vintage jewelry, don’t hesitate to discover what Les Pierres de Julie offer in our store…

We are also available for any free expertise of your vintage jewelry, for that you can send an email with your photos to

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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