HIGH JEWELLERY SIGNATURE COLLECTION

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.

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Inspired by the fringe made popular in the Roaring Twenties, and embodying one of the original High Jewellery codes of Gabrielle Chanel, this necklace gleams with the light of more than 35 baguette-cut diamonds, and 535 brilliant-cut diamonds, while its supple construction and multiple layers create an effect that is thoroughly modern.

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.

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This bracelet is comprised of diamonds and white gold, and is a tribute to the comet of the 1932 collection. Encircling the wrist with a twist, and mirroring the original design of Gabrielle Chanel, a heavenly star houses a round-cut 3.07-carat diamond, surrounded by a shimmering cosmos of about 900 brilliant-cut diamonds, comprising more than 26-carats.

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.

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A graphic and supple sautoir, this necklace appears as though fashioned from a ribbon, an original code from Gabrielle Chanel’s 1932 collection. Handcrafted in white gold, the ribbon breaks the rhythm with geometric baguette-cut diamonds juxtaposing close-set round diamonds, while a perfect pear-cut diamond completes the modern bow.

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.
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A feather plucked from another time, this brooch is the exact replica of the piece created by Gabrielle Chanel for the 1932 exhibition Bijoux de Diamants, Coco Chanel’s first and only High Jewellery collection. With a flexible structure, this diamond and white gold brooch can be worn classically or bent whimsically upon the shoulder.

“IF I HAVE CHOSEN DIAMONDS, IT IS BECAUSE THEY REPRESENT THE GREATEST VALUE IN THE SMALLEST VOLUME.”

— Gabrielle Chanel

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“I believe in the stars”, Gabrielle Chanel said. This ring, in luminous white gold and diamonds, takes inspiration from the High Jewellery codes of the 1932 collection, and to wear it feels as though you have a magical star from Coco Chanel’s universe perfectly preserved on your hand.

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The original 1932 invitation to the Bijoux de Diamants exhibition.

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A photograph of the Comète Necklace, one of five images included in the original 1932 press kit.

The 1932 promotional film, highlighting not only the jewellery collection, but the radical way the jewels were displayed.