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Chaumet Exhibition to Highlight Creative Designs in Gold

May 30, 2023


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An exhibition by Chaumet in October will feature 56 jewels and objets d’art from its archives.

By Sarah Royce-Greensill

Experimental goldsmith techniques and creative design produced from 1965 to 1985 are to be showcased this fall when Chaumet opens “Un Âge d’Or” (“A Golden Age”), an exhibition in the salons above the jeweler’s Place Vendôme boutique in Paris.

“The 1970s was a very interesting era in jewelry, and specifically for Chaumet,” said Vanessa Cron, the French jewelry historian who is curating the show.

In 1969, “man stepped onto the moon,” she said. “It blew people’s minds — we entered a new era where anything seemed possible. Politically and socioeconomically, the focus was on freedom and that translated to music, cinema, art and jewelry.”

“Chaumet was one of the greatest traditional high jewelry houses,” she added, “but it took a parallel route into these edgy, outrageous creations that looked like artist’s jewelry.”

Fifty-six jewels and objets d’art from Chaumet’s archives are to be displayed along with furnishings by Pierre Paulin, Michel Ducaroy and Victor Vasarely; vintage fashion from Dior and Paco Rabanne; and Andy Warhol lithographs. And among the creations of René Morin, Chaumet’s artistic director from 1962 to 1987, will be Pierre d’Or designs, a collection that featured 24-karat gold cartouches in place of precious stones.

One section of the exhibition is to highlight various gold patinas and finishes, including textured, mirror-polished, braided, brushed and chiseled as well as a Brutalist look called poli Arcade, named for the 1970s Chaumet boutique L’Arcade that featured its avant-garde creations of the time. One large torque necklace to be displayed contrasts a rough poli Arcade surface with mirror-polished gold.

Another theme is carved stone, the work of the master glyptician Robert Lemoine, who created brooches in the form of musical instruments, military headdresses and playing-card monarchs using the likes of malachite and tiger’s-eye. They were designs by Pierre Sterlé, who began creating jewelry for the house in the 1930s and joined it officially as a technical adviser in 1976. And a third section of the show is to focus on objets such as the carved crystal and gold-vermeil animal heads from Chaumet’s Bestiaire Fabuleux collaboration with the French crystal house Baccarat.

Ms. Cron said she believed that the creative period of the mid-60s to the mid-80s was particularly alluring now. After the Covid pandemic, “people crave something that looks like freedom,” she said. “The 1970s feels like the last era where people were truly hopeful and carefree.”

The exhibition, scheduled from Oct. 5 through Nov. 5, will be the second show held in the jeweler’s historic hôtel particulier since 2020, when its restoration was completed; the first, in 2021, highlighted the house’s links with Napoleon and Josephine. It is to be open to the public free of charge.

Such installations, Jean-Marc Mansvelt, the house’s chief executive, wrote in an email, “bring Chaumet to life.”

“You can write books and tell Chaumet stories,” he continued, “but it’s even better to show them; jewelry is a ‘physical,’ tactile and emotional profession. And everyone who sees these installations will be able to form their own opinion and experience their own emotions and sensations.”