We have Chaumet in part to thank for the congregation of great jewelry designers on the Place Vendôme. Way back in 1812, when the firm was known as Nitot, it was the first jeweler to open its doors and begin the transformation of the square, located in the center of Paris, into the capital for important jewelry in the world. Chaumet landed in the prestigious location after becoming a favorite of Napoleon and Josephine.
One of Chaumet’s most well-known commissions for the French leader was the creation of a dress sword that featured the flawless 140-carat Regent diamond mounted into the pommel. Josephine had an unlimited expense account and ordered any number of Chaumet jewels.
The Napoleonic era was such an important part of the jeweler’s history, stories about it are recounted in all three of the little Chaumet books in the new trilogy published by Assouline as part of its Mémoire series. The central theme of the first volume, Vendome, A Birthplace of a Legend by Alexis Gregory, is the history of the house on the Place Vendôme, its clients and how the company name changed from Nitot to Chaumet. The second volume, The Art of the Tiara by Vivienne Becker, covers the magical headgear made by Chaumet from the Napoleonic era up until World War II as well as a few contemporary designs. Nature themed jewelry, a constant in Chaumet’s oeuvre, is the topic of the third volume The Nature of Chaumet by Fabienne Reybaud.
Each of the mini books measuring 6 x 8-1/2 inches is 80 pages long with 60 historical and contemporary illustrations. The volumes are packaged together in an attractive slipcase and cost $75. The books would make a great gift for fans of formal French jewelry.