Behind the scenes of Chopard’s Palme d’Or trophy

As Cannes Film Festival gets underway, we look at the history and craftsmanship of the acclaimed Palme d’Or trophy

The Palme d'Or award in rock crystal and gold
(Image credit: press)

As the Cannes Film Festival gets underway for another year, so films from all over the world compete to win the acclaimed Palme d’Or, a trophy that has been created by the festival’s longstanding partner, Chopard, since 1998.

It was during a 1997 meeting between Pierre Viot, then president of the Cannes festival, and co-president and artistic director of Chopard, Caroline Scheufele, when the subject arose. ‘I was having a good look at the Palme d’Or displayed in his office and he invited me to redesign it,’ explains Scheufele. ‘What a fantastic challenge and one that I took up with great enthusiasm.’

A palm drawn on a piece of paper

(Image credit: press)

Gold beads being poured into a machine

(Image credit: press)

She took inspiration from both the palm trees lining Cannes’ Promenade de la Croisette, and the town’s coat-of-arms for the design, which features 19 leaves crafted from 118 grams of Fairmined-certified ethical 18ct yellow gold. The parallels with high jewellery are clear: ‘Every year for the past 23 years, since Chopard became the Palme’s official purveyor, five of our Chopard expert artisans devote 40 hours to handcrafting the festival’s most coveted treasure in our Geneva workshop,’ says Scheufele. ‘The Palme d’Or is definitely treated as a high jewellery piece, both in its design and its craftsmanship.’

The rock crystal on which the leaves rest, shaped like a classic emerald-cut diamond in another nod to the high jewellery world, came with its own set of challenges. ‘To design the Palme d’Or, we had to consider its weight. Rock crystal and gold are heavy raw materials; we needed to define a certain limit so people can lift it easily. We managed to find the perfect weight – approximately 1.35kg,’ she adds. As well as creating the trophy for best film, Chopard designs the award for the other winners at the ceremony, who take home a piece in rock crystal, engraved with a palm.

Gold leaf being engraved

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A gold leaf being polished to make shiny

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Hannah Silver is the Art, Culture, Watches & Jewellery Editor of Wallpaper*. Since joining in 2019, she has overseen offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, and written extensively across the worlds of culture and luxury. She enjoys meeting artists and designers, viewing exhibitions and conducting interviews on her frequent travels.