How does a piece of high jewellery come into being? Who takes part in this magical process? How is a piece of jewellery valued? Le CITY deluxe travelled to Chopard’s workshop in Switzerland to see how some of the company’s most prized pieces are born and fashioned. We spoke with Marc Coutte, Head of Chopard’s High Jewellery Creation Department, our guide this marvellous tour. Jewellery in hand, Marc Coutte begins by explaining some of the details concerning this enthralling world. In this instance, he is holding a bracelet-watch shaped like a tiger. “A very realistic piece, as the tiger’s claws are clutching the watch case. It’s an exceptional piece”, he remarks. And he goes on to mention that the piece belongs to the Animal World collection created to mark Chopard’s 150th anniversary. “A customer bought the necklace with this tiger and later requested we make this exclusive watch with the same animal”.
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Are Chopard pieces initially designed in 3D?
No, only in 2D, but it’s something that gives the company enhanced value, as, this way, the sculptor has more creative margin to draw inspiration from the drawings of the animal in motion. That way they see their shape, their muscles... The entire Animal World Collection –comprised of 150 pieces– adheres to this
same creative process in which duties are divided among all team members.
From the moment the idea arises to the final piece, how much time passes?
It all depends on the complexity of the piece, but it could be anywhere from 50 to 2000 hours.
How do you value a job like this?
The main thing is the time the jeweller needs Marc Coutte to create the piece. Afterwards, the price of the stone you’re using is important and then the added value generated by the Chopard brand name, which makes the piece exclusive. The final price almost always depends on the stones with which the piece was created. The stones make a piece unique.
Where do the stones come from?
The stones come from all over the world. We have formed a network with the world’s finest sellers. Madame Karin Scheufele and Madame Caroline Gruosi-Scheufele are the people charged with selecting and buying the stones. This network affords us an exclusive opportunity to find unique stones, distinct colours and non-habitual shapes.
What is the secret to combining 150 years of history and tradition with setting trends?
Great question! You need a lot of passion and humility, and, first and foremost, creativity and energy. Have an excellent work team and high quality stones. You also need talent and astuteness. Truth is, you need all of these qualities to achieve your objective; everything counts. The times change awfully quickly, and you have to know how to adapt.
From a creative point of view, what are Chopard’s values?
I’d say diversity and fantasy. Diversity because we fashion a wide variety of themed collections. We’re constantly looking to experiment and connect with the world of fantasies; that’s our objective.
What has been the most difficult piece you have created?
It was a piece composed of a group of 150 pieces. It was a truly colossal undertaking and took ages to complete. However, the most difficult pieces are those still to come. We’ve always managed to resolve complexity thanks to a fantastic team and finding a technical level of excellence to uncover a solution. Generally speaking, each new piece is a fresh challenge.
What kind of requests do you receive on a daily basis? Are they namely the same or are the challenges also daily?
They’re different every day. We sometimes get the impression we work at the same hectic pace as the kitchen in a typical Paris restaurant. We have to work quickly, because we have a sizable demand from private customers who commission last-minute birthday or wedding presents, and it’s down to us to figure out where to get the time, the stones, the design, etc. to arrive just
in time to pay tribute to the person they love.
If you could choose a future project, what concept would you transform into Chopard jewellery?
I’d probably make pieces for children. Based on games, on symbolic gestures, little totems that are important in everyone’s life and on those moments, those things we want to “crystallise”. I’d create a small totem that sums up little moments of happiness.
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Chopard first designed watches and later incorporated jewellery. What is the next step?
I don’t completely agree that Chopard started by designing watches. Since the beginning, it has worked, in a similar manner, to discover the future of jewellery, striving to turn watches into jewellery. It has always developed jewellery, in the sense that the overall brand has developed. We have always looked beyond watch-making, wanting to turn watches into jewellery and, of course, always at the highest level.