“Bonjour!” and welcome to part two of Natalie’s tour through French jewellery history.
Now we’ve uncovered the stories and influences behind 400 years of French jewellery in part one, it’s time to hop back on our bicycles and explore…
The French Influence in Modern History and Today
In the decades following the second world war, French culture was gradually replaced by American culture. As a result, French jewellery lost some of its prestige until around 1970. Since then, it seems to have made a comeback.
Of course, famed jewellery houses such as Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels remained synonymous with elegance and style even through the rise of Americana.
Designs for both companies have been worn by royalty and some of the world’s most beautiful stars of the past and present, including Princess Diana, Princess Grace of Monaco, Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Marilyn Monroe and Brigitte Bardot.
Today, designers such as Lorenz Baumer are becoming the darlings of the jetset. He sees his jewellery as “an experience”, and incorporates many unique styles and focuses on colour and creativity.
So what does one pay for French Jewellery?
Well, it does have a reputation for being among the most expensive in the world. The theory being that if you want wear the same jewellery as the stars, you should have the same bank balance.
Saying that, as with any piece of jewellery, price varies depending on the subject cut, colour, quality, clarity and design. Like anything in this world, the higher the price, generally the more spectacular the quality.
The Hope Diamond
You can’t have a discussion about spectacular French jewellery without mentioning the enigmatic Hope Diamond, a 45.52-carat diamond famed for its apparent curse.
Once known as ‘Le Bleu de France,’ it was thought to have been carved from a 67-carat stone named ‘The Blue French,’ owned by several members of the French royal family. While ‘The Blue French’ mysteriously disappeared and hasn’t been found since, you can feast your eyes on the Hope Diamond at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington.
Folklore says many of those who have owned the diamond have gone on to die in mysterious circumstances. Others have dismissed such rumours. Who knows, but I do find the idea that something so magnificently beautiful refuses to be possessed by one person kind rather bewitching, don’t you?
The Taj Mahal Diamond Necklace
One woman who never felt that way about her jewellery was the enigmatic Elizabeth Taylor. Her two-time husband Richard Burton bought the Taj Mahal diamond for 350,000 pounds and had it redesigned by Cartier into a necklace for her as a present.
The exquisite diamond was discovered in India in the 17th century and owned by the wife of the Shah Jahan Mogul of India. The necklace is now owned by Frenchman Robert Mouawad.
So that concludes our little tour through the history of French jewellery.
Of course, if you’re not ready to leave France just yet, you’re always welcome to visit us at my studio. Then you can experience firsthand how my latest jewellery designs, inspired by this rich history, look and feel on a modern Madame or Mademoiselle like you!