During Paris Haute Couture Week, Boucheron presented a reimagined take on its Point d’Interrogation, or Question Mark necklace, which first appeared at the maison in 1879. The clasp-free design was hailed for its innovation at the time, allowing women to freely take off their jewellery without assistance, and is still admired today for its elegant simplicity.
Brought back to light by the jewellery maison’s creative director, Claire Choisne, the archival design — which is featured in Boucheron’s Signature High Jewellery collection — has been reinterpreted in 8 new styles; from graduating-sized pearls to glittering emerald ivy leaves. Here, MOJEH talks to Claire Choisne about marrying heritage with contemporary design, alongside a glimpse of the Boucheron new high jewellery offering.
Tell us about the design process?
The most important thing for me is the concept of the creation. The idea of the final jewel always comes first in design. Then the difficult part is the technical aspect. From the drawing to the final piece, it is a long and challenging process, and we often have to create new techniques and go beyond what we thought was possible.
How you marry together the heritage of the brand with contemporary techniques?
Boucheron has been a contemporary House for more than 160 years, more than relying on the archives of the House, it is the philosophy of Frédéric Boucheron himself that inspires us. The freedom to create, which can for instance be based on the style or unexpected materials we use, and this freedom to create then offers the freedom to wear to women.
How is this process translated into the collections?
For example, in 2018 for the Fleurs Eternelles rings from Nature Triomphante high jewellery collection, it was a very long process to reach the results, a line of nine rings that have preserved the actual petals of flowers. Through this collection we wanted to capture the beautiful moments of flowers and make them last forever, in a way to give eternal life to flowers. And in 2019, our breakthrough was the 26V necklace, which I explained earlier, assembled in the technic of volumetric marquetry from onyx, rock crystal and cacholong plates.
How do you feel as you see your illustrations come to life in each piece of jewellery?
There is no doubt that happiness comes from creation. When I am pondering with my team on the idea and drawings of the next collection, I am truly feeling a sense of excitement. When the craftsman brings the finished jewellery piece to us in the end, each time it is as if a little baby is standing in front of me. It makes us always so happy when we see a great idea translated into an amazing reality!
Do you have a favourite stone to work with?
I see creativity as priority, which echoes with Boucheron’s free spirit. Then I ask our stone hunters to source suitable gems. In some cases, I would go with them. There is not a particular gem that I love most, all are my favourite. However, I will go for the only kind that can embody a certain design idea, so I love gems but will not be constrained by them.
What does the choice of jewellery say about a person?
Jewellery is a way to express your personality, thus a person’s choice of jewellery and its way of wearing it says a lot about its personality. For example, with the Jack Box, a collection of 26 brooches inspired by the Jack clasp, a multitude of stylistic possibilities are offered for the woman or man wearing this collection. You can wear 3 or 4 brooches on the back of a jacket, or the entire 26 brooches down the back of a dress.
Who is the Boucheron customer and what sets them apart?
What sets the Boucheron customers apart is that they wear jewels the way they like, regardless of the conventions because they can create any style they want with our jewellery. They use it as a means of presenting their personality, not just a creation of high art. They are people who know how to savour the creativity of Boucheron jewellery!
What makes Boucheron unique as a Maison?
Boucheron has remained faithful to its spirit since Frédéric Boucheron founded the Maison. The representative piece is the innovative Question mark necklace. The piece gave freedom to women at the time where they could not wear jewellery on their own. We are committed to giving creators the freedom to create, giving all women the freedom to wear and express themselves. The aesthetics of jewellery has changed from time to time, but the spirit behind it has never changed because we always design jewellery to be worn.
Can you share the most extravagant story in Boucheron’s history?
To me, the Maharaja story is the most extravagant story in Boucheron’s history. It was in 1928. The Maharaja of Patiala arrived at Boucheron at 26 Place Vendôme, with his guards and huge trunks filled with thousands of precious stones such as 7571 diamonds, 1432 emeralds, rubies and sapphires, which turned out to be 149 drawings of jewellery sets, the biggest order ever made at the Place Vendôme.
Tell us about the latest Question Mark necklaces presented at Paris Couture Week?
The Boucheron style is above all a state of mind and in my opinion, it is captured perfectly by the Question Mark necklace, which I wanted to reinstate as one of Boucheron’s main signature pieces as soon as I arrived at the maison. This necklace encapsulates the philosophy of a maison that throughout its history has incorporated in its creations the ethos of innovation with a focus on emotion, and the beauty of expression with a focus on women’s freedom. Its modernity – designed to promote freedom of expression – seems to have defied time, which for me is the hallmark of high jewellery.