In the world of jewellery, Place Vendôme is what Paris is to fashion, where jewellers wish to establish roots and enthusiasts flock. It all started with Chaumet, the first jeweller to settle at this square at number 15 (where the Ritz Hotel is now located) as early as 1812. It later moved to its forever home today at number 12 in 1907. Today, the square is home to many other jewellery heavyweights such as Van Cleef & Arpels, Cartier and Bulgari — just to name a few.
As its latest neighbour, Gucci, earned its space in the square last year with a new façade and a high jewellery collection to boot, the founding resident here closed its doors for a year for a major revamp. “Previous renovations were done in parts. The major last renovation for [just] the boutique was in 2004, work on the third floor and Grand Salons was in 1989,” says Jean- Marc Mansvelt, CEO of Chaumet, explaining the “disarticulation” that he felt, with many small portions of disjointed spaces here and there that needed to be rearticulated to “recreate a fully renovated Hôtel Particulier”.
And so, the renovation plan began two years ago, with Chaumet’s parent company LVMH artistic director of architecture and design, Patricia Grosdemange at the helm. As a strong believer that the maison’s future is forged from its heritage, Mansvelt’s mission is to first establish the three key fundamental pillars that undergird the foundation of Chaumet and have done so for the past 240 years: The clients, as represented by the boutique and private salons on the ground and first floor, the culture and heritage of Chaumet as evident in the preservation space and archive in the different salons on the second floor, lastly the respect for savoir-faire that has been kept alive in its high jewellery workshop on the third floor.
But it is the daring, deep blue that heralds the maison into a new visual aesthetic that is both contemporary and bold. “The Salon des Perles is a very good example [for this]. To accompany the traditional woodwork, we take a contemporary approach with this dark, deep blue,” says Mansvelt. It is this particular blue that was favoured by its past client and muse, Napoleon Bonaparte and Empress Joséphine who identified this colour on the court clothes of the kings of France, and later used it to create porcelain dishes for official receptions at their residences. While this hue has been present in Chaumet for a long time, it was only in 2018 that it was recognised as an emblematic hue of the maison, and became incorporated into the new design of boxes and ribbons, as well as the newly-revamped boutique façade.
Here, we go from the ground up for a visual walkthrough around the new 12 Vendôme:
If you’ve been a long-time friend of Chaumet, you will immediately feel right at home. Not because of the Joséphine and Liens collections you see here, or the new space resembling its past, but because it is apparent that this is the big concept that has inspired all recently revamped Chaumet boutiques around the world, some unveiled even before the flagship here re-opened.
You’ll find familiar details such as the dramatic alabaster stone that commands every boutique — but in this case, room — as a way for the jeweller to pay homage to the raw beauty of rough stone, evoking the fascinating genesis of jewellery. And then, there’s the wheat motif, a symbol of life and opulence acting as links between spaces, reinterpreted in many ways, like embroidery on the upholstered wall or as a base to elevate a jewellery showcase.
The higher you go, the better the view, and as far as jewellery selections are concerned, this is the truth at the new 12 Vendôme. Upstairs, you’ll find more jewellery, including the one-of-a-kind high jewellery collection. Likewise, the design elements on this floor suggest a more intimate setting too, with wooden panelling echoing throughout the space and a sunburst woven carpet to enliven the room. On the same floor, the Salon des Joyaux serves as a private room to present special high jewellery pieces or to design your next bespoke piece. Sit against the straw marquetry wall created by Jallu Straw workshop with a glass of champagne in one hand and the view of Place Vendôme in sight.
Relationships have always been at the core of Chaumet. Case in point: the iconic Liens collection that symbolizes the attachment between couples. As you progress in your relationship, there is one salon in the new 12 Vendôme you and your other half should be headed to before saying “I do”, or if you have the chance, before that life-changing “yes”. Taking cues from Château de Malmaison where Chaumet’s muses Napoleon Bonaparte and Empress Joséphine used to reside, you’ll find the Empress’s garden outlined on the carpet, and the chateau’s Temple of Love adorning the chest of drawers.
Here at Salon Malmaison, you can personalise your own ring with a few classic Chaumet designs as starting point, pick and choose from the same collection as Angelababy’s famous Joséphine engagement ring — and more, including a wedding band for your husband or a tiara for yourself. There’s a changing room here where you are welcome to bring your dress so you can see how it looks with their jewellery and tiaras before you make your final selection.
You may have heard that 12 Vendôme is recognised as a historic monument — and the reason lies in this very space. Aptly named Salon Chopin, it was here that the famous composer and pianist Frédéric Chopin composed his last marzuka in 1849.
What many didn’t know is, in 1779, artisans prized by King Louis XVI and Queen Marie-Antoinette conceived its sumptuous decor at the request of Baron Baudard de Sainte-James. The architect François-Joseph Bélanger was responsible for the overall sense of harmony, while the paintings of Lagrenée le Jeune adorn the walls, and the Rousseau brothers’ sculpted panels depict anchors, shells and tridents — alluding to the Baron’s role as Treasurer General of the Navy. Today, the salon has been restored to preserve these priceless treasures. At the centre of it sits a Pleyel piano from 1920, serving as a reminder of this salon’s musical identity.
As a royal jeweller, Chaumet has a past shaped by its clients, especially Napoleon Bonaparte and Empress Joséphine. Naturally, the jeweller become the celebrated home of the tiara, having created more than 2,000 of them for members of monarchies and aristocratic families since 1780. What started out as a three-dimensional rendering for clients to see and try, these nickel silver models have become an exhibit on their own, as Joseph Chaumet started displaying them for clients to admire before placing an order. Post renovation, a bigger space is now dedicated to house this growing collection as 264 models juxtaposed against the emblematic blue.
In 1890, Joseph Chaumet was a visionary who created the first-known laboratory of gemmology to identify stones; it is in this salon where the artisans would sit to grade and string pearls. A dining room pre-Chaumet time, it is now aptly named Salon des Perles. After the renovation, the salon is given a dramatic touch of Chaumet’s blue that symbolised the contemporary spirit of the brand, while still respecting and preserving its roots and heritage — and in this case, the original Napoléon III-style wall panelling and the 18th century bucolic scene on the ceiling above painted by Pierre-Victor Galland (nephew of Jean-Baptiste Fossin, former head of the Chaumet workshop).
Like the magic kitchen where dreams are realised, the high jewellery workshop here is the beating heart of Chaumet for the past 240 years. With its new space overlooking Place Vendôme, the cradle of jewellery making, the virtuosity of creations is given its rightful place at the highest level of the new 12 Vendôme. Passing the baton from one head workshop to another, the 13th head of workshop, Benoît Verhulle, is now the guardian of this place, the attentive eye who watches over every creations.
This is where ethereal pieces are born, ancestral knowledge is passed on and artisanal skills are honed. Some day many many years ago, it was this very place where Empress Joséphine ’s tiaras were made, and today, this is the same place where your bespoke pieces will come to live.
To shop these creations during this circuit breaker period, you can contact Chaumet advisors Jackie Wong (+65 9767 7282) or Ben Chen (+65 9163 6836) to place an order or enquire about the collections. Complimentary delivery is offered island-wide with every purchase, and the items will be hand delivered right to the doorstep.
This story first appeared in our May 2020 issue. You can read the full issue here.