HIGH JEWELLERY SIGNATURE COLLECTION 1932
It was 1932, and Europe was in the midst of the Great Depression. Gabrielle Chanel, having become famous in the 1920s for her forward-thinking designs, was approached by the Union of Diamond Merchants to publicise their jewels during this economic slump. With these borrowed diamonds, Coco Chanel created her first and only High Jewellery collection — Bijoux de Diamants.
The radical designs, which Gabrielle Chanel chose to exhibit in her private townhouse at 29 Faubourg Saint-Honoré, were comprised of five timeless themes, chosen to represent Coco Chanel’s lucky number: fringe, ribbon, feathers, the sun and stars — a mysterious constellation to mirror the mosaics on the floor of the orphanage at Aubazine, where Gabrielle Chanel spent her youth.
The jewels were displayed on eerily lifelike wax figures, no doubt inspired by her surrealist friends, with dazzling diamonds reflected against a backdrop of mirrors. True to the ingenious nature of Gabrielle Chanel, the more elaborate pieces were transformable — jewels of an emancipated woman, where nothing should impede her freedom.
The exhibition was a monumental success, naturally enraging the jewellers of Place Vendôme who deemed Gabrielle Chanel as a mere couturière. While the collection was dismantled and the diamonds returned in haste, the designs revolutionised the jewellery of the time and cemented codes for the House of CHANEL which remain an inspiration to this day.
BOLDNESS, FEMININITY, FREEDOM - IN DIAMONDS, OF COURSE, AS INDESTRUCTIBLE AS THE SPIRIT OF GABRIELLE CHANEL.
“IF I HAVE CHOSEN DIAMONDS, IT IS BECAUSE THEY REPRESENT THE GREATEST VALUE IN THE SMALLEST VOLUME.”