Parisian jewellers along the prestigious Place Vendôme in Paris are turning to wheat for their latest jewellery collections that interpret its cycle of life from seedling to golden harvest.
The collections launched during Couture Fashion Week in the summer and Place Vendôme was transformed into a field of golden tipped wheat stalks swaying in the breeze. The installation by French street artist Gad Weil was part tribute to the rebirth of life that wheat represents, “to remind everyone how much the spirit of man, when acting with respect and care, knows how to interact with nature, draw from it inspiration to nourish and beautify mankind”, the artist says, a symbolic gesture in France now.
The installation was commissioned by Chanel and coincided with the launch of Les Blés de Chanel, providing a fitting backdrop to the wheat-inspired collections presented by Boucheron and Chaumet over the course of the week.
Coco Chanel took the wheat sheath as one of her lucky charms and used it in her Parisian apartment. While Chanel has dabbled with the wheat motif in the past, Les Blés de Chanel marks its first full foray dedicated entirely to the sheath.
The 62-piece collection takes on the life cycle of the grain in a dazzling display of gems, from young green shoots rendered in diamonds, peridots and crystallines, to golden stalks of yellow sapphires ready for harvest.
Highlights include the Moisson d’Or necklace, a wheat sheaf that sways seductively at the breastbone in a cacophony of diamonds and yellow sapphires held together by 16.8ct yellow sapphire. There is also L’Epi brooch, an elegant, single sheath of baguette-cut, marquise-cut and brilliant-cut diamonds and coloured stones, and Brins de Printemps, where budding shoots of peridots, tourmalines and diamonds are rendered into a bracelet, earrings, ring and a necklace.
Boucheron was one of the first jewellers to establish a boutique on Place Vendome, and 26 Vendome is a three-part collection that celebrates its legacy, including an ode to the untamed tresses and feats of nature.
Triumphs of Nature is a three-part series that interprets the lily, birds and wheat; the latter a favourite pattern of Frédéric Boucheron and one of the core elements that defines the brand’s style, says creative director, Claire Choisne.
“He [Boucheron] had a real capacity of capturing realist volumes, which is why the pieces look so real,” Choisne says. “With this collection, we focused on a contemporary vision of the key themes that have shaped the identity of the maison. We have always and will always draw inspiration from wheat. What changes is how the studio and I process it stylistically.”
Blé d’Étè takes the seven ears of wheat, a lucky charm in French folklore, and weaves it into a sinuous shape that sways to the dazzling hue of 722 diamonds, evocative of moonlight shimmering over late harvests that signal the end of the grain’s growing cycle.
The design was based on Boucheron’s question mark necklace from 1889 and an art nouveau brooch from 1905, “that seems to have breeze running through it, which is a perfect illustration of the maison’s quest to faithfully render nature”, Choisne says.
A symbol of life and prosperity, wheat has long been a source of inspiration to artists and interpreted by jewellers. In 1811, Napoleon’s second wife, Empress Marie-Louise, commissioned Chaumet to create a hairpiece of 150 wheat stalks, beginning a love affair with the motif that has appeared throughout the brand’s history.
La Nature de Chaumet is a four-part collection highlighting plants that have been a constant in the brand’s archives: the laurel, the oak, the lily and wheat. The wheat-inspired collection, called L’Epi de Blé, expresses wheat in its wildness. Golden, engraved sheaths sway to the wind and diamond drops can become grains budding new life or the fresh, morning dew.
Champs de lumiere renders a wheat field at dusk, with orange-pink padparadscha sapphires setting on an open-worked cuff. Other highlights include Moissons sous le vent, a set of earrings, ring and brooch rendering the golden ears of wheat ripe with diamonds.
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