Thursday, October 26, 2017

Inside the Chaumet Archive

From The Telegraph:
Chaumet’s founder Marie-Etienne Nitot trained under the jeweller to Marie Antoinette, and after the Revolution quickly gained favour with Napoleon Bonaparte, becoming his official jeweller in 1805. Numerous commissions followed including royal ceremonial jewels for the Emperor himself, gifts for Empress Joséphine, and later for his second wife Marie-Louise of Habsburg-Lorraine.

Today, Chaumet is the only jeweller still in existence on display in the Louvre, while many original order forms relating to the Emperor are of such historical significance that they’re housed at the National Archives in Paris.

Back at the Parisian flagship on Place Vendôme, I’m ushered upstairs through jaw-dropping 18th-century salons, one of which has walls lined with nickel silver maquettes of tiaras, perfect replicas of the adornments that would become a house signature.

Joseph Chaumet (who took over in 1889 and after whom the company is named) had the foresight to keep these beautiful prototypes, along with every document relating to jewellery creation and sale from 1780 when the company was first founded. In 1890 he decided to start taking photographs of every piece made, and created a laboratory in his home for this purpose, providing evidence of which pieces made it from sketch to reality. Amazingly, these photographic documents have survived; many other jewellery houses who did the same threw this evidence away when they ran out of space to keep it. (Read more.)

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