Boucheron, the storied Parisian jeweler, was founded by Frederic Boucheron in 1857 at Place Vendôme, the high jewellery capital of the world. Renowned for its exceptional craftsmanship alongside its boundary-pushing and luxurious designs, Boucheron is the quintessence of French high jewellery. Few of the French houses that exist today still push the envelope of design and test the boundaries of high jewellery concepts; however, Boucheron is undoubtedly the leader in the innovation category and is earnestly still moving us forward, even after 165 years of business. You’d think that a house with such a rich heritage would be afraid of pushing boundaries, perhaps concerned with alienating a loyal client base – but this logic seems to go out the window and is, in fact, Boucheron’s greatest strength and draw. 

Boucheron releases two high jewellery collections annually—the first pays homage to a cultural past, “Histoire de Style.” Recently revisiting the couture heritage of Frédéric Boucheron, Claire Choisne, Boucheron’s masterful Creative Director, re-envisioned classic ceremonial motifs with hues of Napoleonic style, into a prismatic, futuristic scene of rock crystal and diamond medals, laurels, and epaulettes. A masterclass in balancing heritage aesthetics with contemporary design principles.

The second collection of the year explores a cultural future, “Carte Blanche,” meaning blank page, producing one of the most groundbreaking collections of 2023 – More is More. With a palette reminiscent of a Roy Lichtenstein painting, Choisne and her team delivered us magnetic pockets made of diamonds and onyx, incredible tassels that attach to your favourite hoodie, alongside rings and hair clips that seem to have snapped right out of the 80’s – but in the most contemporary way possible.

While their Histoire de Style collections are boundary-pushing in their own right, Boucheron shines when they allow their design team to be completely unhinged with their Carte Blanche collection. But how does this liberal take on creative freedom weave itself into every element of the company and continue to push it to new heights?

Heritage, With Consideration

I’m a firm believer in looking to and appreciating the past. But I’ll also be one of the first to tell you that you should never be bound by it. 

Looking back at Boucheron’s epochal question-mark necklace, they have continued experimenting with motifs, but this design’s path forward doesn’t stop there. If you dig into the marketing behind this necklace, you’ll find youthful individuals sporting it in t-shirts, simple button-downs, and even risqué shirtless jackets. You might first write it off as “high/low” marketing, the shock factor that such a significant necklace is being worn so casually – but it’s deeper than that. 

You see, the question-mark necklace was created when society women didn’t dress themselves; they had servants to do everything for them. By today’s standards,  it sounds like a luxury, but it was a gilded prison of complex fastenings, corsets and crinolines designed to restrict and oppress. Imagine the relief Boucheron brought to a woman’s life by giving them a small moment of control and independence at a time when they had little to none. 

The beauty of the question-mark necklace is in its simplicity; it gracefully hooks onto the neck and is undoubtedly one of the most elegant closure solutions to a high jewellery necklace. Simple and timeless, Boucheron brought high jewellery into our modern era by continuing and modernizing the collection through campaign marketing.

Materials Maketh

Basic materials, when used cleverly, can have a more significant impact than all the diamonds in the world. Looking at other greats in our industry (i.e. Belperron, Hemmerle) this fact runs true.

Boucheron’s Holographic collection waded into this world. Holographic-coated rock crystal and ceramics blurred the lines between the collection’s use of fine opals and diamonds, creating an otherworldly effect. Choisne, Boucheron’s masterful Creative Director of 10 years, stated, “I always come to the conclusion that it’s not necessarily the intrinsic value of the materials making up the piece if we can add extra soul — insert the dream into the piece to generate emotions, for me it has even more value…”

This collection was undoubtedly a flex, but what’s fascinating is how this concept made it into Boucheron’s new packaging. Crafted from recycled aluminum and lined with deep, forest green wool, the box is fully recyclable, leaving little to no guilt for the client who tosses the box – which inevitably happens. Boxes and heavy packaging are quickly becoming a thing of the past as consumers think about their footprint. However, Boucheron’s decision to introduce a box that is eco-conscious, unlike many other high jewellery firms, not only communicated clearly to clients their brand values and codes but maintained the magic of jewellery gifting and strengthened its identity as a leader within our industry. 

Genderless Identity

Jewellery is for everyone, and I’ll gladly have a tête-à-tête with anyone who disagrees. Boucheron spearheaded our conversation around jewellery and gender by being one of the first jewellery houses to introduce male and genderless models to their fine and jewellery campaigns, setting the standard for all the following jewellery houses.

Un-Chained and Un-afraid

Boucheron has taken a carte-blanche approach with Choisne, allowing the creative team full freedom of creativity without corporate intervention. It’s a risk that has consistently delivered rewards: immense social and media buzz, celebrity dressings, and, I’m sure, in turn, healthy sales revenues.

They are living proof that, when given the opportunity and support for success from corporate leadership, creatives will step up to the plate, innovate with respect, and deliver the product of dreams and the icons of tomorrow.