From Chanel No. 5 to the 55.55 high jewellery diamond necklace: CEO Frédéric Grangié on how the luxury French brand is celebrating 100 years – interview

Chanel has created the 55.55 necklace to celebrate 100 years. Photo: Chanel

Diamonds, the number five and the scent of freshly cut flowers are a few of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel’s favourite things. A firm believer in the powers of a lucky charm, Chanel transformed her favourite symbols into the house’s most emblematic icons. These symbols have, over the past century, found their way into everything from her high jewellery collection, fashion and fragrance, down to the unmistakable black and white packaging that accompanies the acquisition of every Chanel item.

The Chanel 55.55 high jewellery necklace. Photo: Chanel
A true luxury powerhouse in every sense, Chanel has unique reaches in the realms of fragrance and high jewellery. This year marks the centennial celebration of women dabbing their décolletage and the back of their ears with Chanel N°5, a fragrance born out of one woman’s desire to create a perfume made for and by women. 

Creating the first women-inspired fragrance is just one of many firsts Gabrielle Chanel conquered throughout her career. Almost a decade later in 1932, the designer expressed her love for diamonds through a high jewellery collection, Bijoux de Diamants. 

Celebrating these two historic milestones in the world of women’s fashion and luxury lifestyle, Chanel unveils a new high jewellery necklace inspired by an amalgamation of Gabrielle Chanel’s favourite things. The result, as Chanel’s CEO Frédéric Grangié reveals in the interview below, is a breathtaking high jewellery piece in the classic silhouette of Chanel N°5 expressed through 55.55 carats of pure brilliance, as well as the Collection N°5, a 123-piece collection that takes on the allure of Chanel’s most iconic fragrance.

Tell us about the 55.55 necklace

The Chanel 55.55 necklace features 55.55 carats of diamonds. Photo: Chanel

In 1921, the first “perfume for women, with a woman’s scent”, composed by Ernest Beaux with Gabrielle Chanel, caused an outcry. From the absolute modernity of the fragrance and the purity of the bottle to the mystery of the name, the N°5 perfume revolutionised the world of perfumery. In 1932, Gabrielle Chanel revolutionised another universe: that of French high jewellery with her one and only collection in platinum and diamonds. These Bijoux de Diamants, whose centenary we will soon be celebrating, heralded new ways of wearing and took jewellery into another realm, that of allure.

As always with Chanel, it was born from an act of pure creation, a unique creative gesture served in particular by a gem as magical as the N°5 perfume itself. With its harmonious shape, its emerald cut, its symbolic weight of 55.55 carats and the absolute excellence of its quality, this gem is testimony to Chanel perfectionism and its exactitude in terms of both creativity and technical mastery.

Crafting the Chanel 55.55 necklace. Photo: Chanel

What was the reason behind creating this piece and the 123-piece collection N°5?

This new high jewellery collection is of an unprecedented scope, the largest we’ve ever done in terms of the number of pieces. From the bottle and the sillage to the stopper, the number and the flowers that make up N°5, the 123 pieces exude its various facets and express all its identification elements. Thus, for example, all the tonalities embodied by exceptional gemstones represent the colours of the N°5 perfume, in varying shades of yellow, amber and pink.

For Chanel, the design and the production of the [55.55 necklace] represent a decisive and major step in the history of fine jewellery. By joining our patrimoine at 18 Place Vendôme rather than being sold, this necklace will forever bear witness to this chapter in the history of Chanel fine jewellery. With the possibility of being temporarily exhibited at events around the world, it will constitute, for our clients and our press, an eternal and visible symbol of the unfailing links that unite Place Vendôme and the N°5 perfume.

The dazzling Chanel 55.55 necklace. Photo: Chanel

What message does Chanel wish to deliver through this creation?

Chanel’s ambition is always to pay tribute to the talent and visionary audacity of Gabrielle Chanel. Creation remains and always will remain the essence of our brand. The necklace is testimony to this. Starting with a rough diamond, not to get the biggest stone possible, but to obtain a perfect octagonal diamond with a symbolic weight of 55.55 carats at the service of creation and in reference to the most famous perfume in the world, is an unprecedented step that only the house of Chanel could possibly offer.

The Chanel 55.55 necklace. Photo: Chanel

What makes Chanel’s approaches to high jewellery making unique?

The fact that a fashion designer took herself into the very closed and masculine circle of Place Vendôme jewellers was in itself a revolution. I think that everything Gabrielle Chanel bequeathed to us still resonates today. We remain faithful to our history, but we also remain attentive to enriching it and projecting it into the future with the greatest creative freedom. Because what’s important is creation itself, which lies at the centre of everything. Everything always starts from the design, from the idea of a piece of jewellery and the woman who will wear it. The rhythm and the richness of our collections bear witness to this.

Our objective with the Jewelry Creation Studio, first created in 2009 and directed by Patrice Leguéreau, is to develop collections that express the values initiated by Gabrielle Chanel in 1932, that constitute our DNA and that make us different. Collection N°5, the first and only high jewellery collection dedicated to a perfume, is a vibrant testimony to this.

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  • Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel revolutionised the world of fragrances when she created the first ‘perfume for women, with a woman’s scent’ in 1921
  • In 1932 came her high jewellery collection Bijoux de Diamants; today, the brand has created a stunning 55.55 carat diamond necklace to show at 18 Place Vendôme