Why Boucheron’s HK$5.53 million Cape de Lumière was the ultimate challenge for jewellers

The Cape of Light, which carries a HK$5.53 million price tag, was one of the maison’s most challenging pieces yet

When a cape is priced at HK$5.53 million, it’s worth a second (and maybe third or fourth) look. Boucheron’s Cape de Lumière – Cape of Light – is a work of art, and worth its hefty price tag due to the fact that the piece is not stitched from fabric, but rather, is made of gold and diamonds.

Claire Choisne, the brand’s creative director, says that the cape was “one of the most challenging developments” of the 26 Vendôme collection, likening the production process to haute couture fashion. “The idea was to create a piece that would be a jewel and a garment,” she says. “It’s a whole new challenge, a way of reinventing the work of the jeweller by creating the jewellery of tomorrow.”

The claim is hardly an exaggeration. The template for the cape involves 70 hours of work, while the time for crafting the many exquisite details ultimately totals 925 hours. The piece is so named for its shimmering effect when worn, produced by the peacock feather motif, which radiates across the design, and by the many different textures of gold used throughout – matte surfaces paired with twisted chains resembling the ribbed Gros Grain pattern – not to mention all the inset diamonds.

The final product consists of 850 round diamonds totalling 5.26cts, with an 81.62ct citrine stone holding the cape together at the centre. Now that would be the kind of weight we would like to have on our shoulders.

The cape takes more than 925 hours to create.

The idea behind this piece was to create something that would function as both a jewel and a garment. The maison’s artisan-jewellers work from the initial sketch, drawn based on the idea that the cape should mimic the soft train of a peacock, enveloping the shoulders of the wearer.

The whole production process is carried out on a Stockman dummy, ensuring that the metal work will be supple enough to fit and drape perfectly on human shoulders. The craftsmen give the same attention to detail with this piece as they do with an haute couture clothing piece. The template alone requires 70 hours of work.

The elements of the cape are interconnected by a mesh woven of golden thread, in a modern interpretation of the classic peacock feather motif. The pattern is meticulously hand-threaded by the maison’s artisan-jewellers.

The precise chiselling of the cape gives it a remarkable suppleness and fluidity, so that it moves and sits on the wearer’s skin like fabric. Upon closer inspection, the delicately twisted chains are inset with diamonds, for a subtle but luxurious shimmer as the cape moves in the light.

Boucheron’s Claire Choisne draws a comparison between the creation of this cape and haute couture clothing, and it’s easy to see why with the production process. Each peacock feather feature has to be adjusted according to the curve and shape of the wearer’s body. The interconnectedness of the features means that if one element is adjusted, the elements to its left and right have to be tweaked accordingly.

The largest “feathers” go in the front of the cape, and the artisans set diamonds on the two shapes in a pattern that mimics the effect of light reflection, emphasised by the lines engraved under the central citrine stone. This final touch is what gives the jewellery piece its name – the Cape of Light.

This article was originally published in Destination Macau

The Cape of Light is not stitched from fabric, but made of gold and diamonds