Chaumet’s history has been intertwined with that of Empress Josephine’s since the jewellery house became her official jeweller in the 18th century. She has been the muse for myriad diamond creations since then, with high and fine jewellery collections weaving references to her into intricate patterns of diamonds over the subsequent centuries.

Now, a rethinking of Chaumet’s Joséphine collection celebrates the empress’ chameleon-like love of reinvention. It is a collection crying out to be mixed, matched and made your own. The design centres around her most recognisable piece, the tiara, adapting the pear cut at its centre into earrings, rings, necklaces and a watch.

Chaumet’s new collection pays tribute to Empress Josephine
Chaumet’s new collection pays tribute to Empress Josephine

‘Our key character isn’t Napoleon – it’s Josephine,’ says Chaumet CEO Jean-Marc Mansvelt. ‘She’s an interesting character, the central one of the maison. The pure shape is part of her story.’

In the new Joséphine Ronde d’Aigrettes collection, pear cuts form asymmetrical silhouettes, the angular lines of the rings made to be stacked. In the Joséphine Valse Impériale high jewellery collection, pear-shaped diamonds are swept into the curves of a tiara or rest lightly below the collarbone. The simple graphic silhouette of the dial takes centre stage in the the Joséphine Aigrette watch, which is held comfortably in place with an unbroken buckle-free loop of leather or satin. ‘More than ever, we wanted this connection between the jewellery and the watch,’ Mansvelt says.

Next month, Chaumet will be celebrating Josephine and Napoleon in a new Paris exhibition, ‘Joséphine et Napoléon, une histoire (extra)ordinaire’, which marks the bicentury of the emperor’s death and takes a look back through the couple’s life together through jewellery, paintings and works of art. ‘Many institutions will celebrate Napoleon the politician, or the military man. We are highlighting that Napoleon was also a man in love,’ says Mansvelt.

Adds Chaumet director of heritage Claire Gannet: ‘Nowadays, we all want to contemplate and experience beauty. The spring season overlaps with the anniversary of Napoleon’s death – starting to talk about their love story at the blooming season is a nice symbol.’ §

Chaumet’s new collection pays tribute to Empress Josephine
Chaumet’s new collection pays tribute to Empress Josephine