New Chaumet Book Is 256 Pages of Tiara Heaven



While many of us continue to shelter in place, reading jewelry books is a logical and worthy quarantine pastime, one that can be done while wearing a bathrobe, lounging in the comfort of your bed, or sipping tea in your garden. An unplugged activity while we are (understandably) forced to get our kicks online.

One really special one to consider adding to your library is Chaumet Tiaras: Divine Jewels by Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni and Clare Phillips. Published by Thames & Hudson at the end of April, it is not a low-key affair.

It’s a deluxe oversize homage the famed French jeweler’s tiaras from the 18th century to the present day, sumptuously clad in cobalt blue fabric with a matching slipcase.

And it’s filled with pages upon pages of archival photos, glorious renderings, and close-ups of some of the individual jeweled components that make up the maison’s most showstopping tiara designs.

Chaumet tiaras
From left: Scrollwork tiara in gold, silver, and diamonds for the Marquise de Talhouët, 1908; Fuchsias tiara (also known as the Bourbon-Parma tiara) in platinum and diamonds, 1919; Joséphine Aigrette Impériale tiaras with cultured pearls and diamonds in white gold (top), ruby and diamonds in white gold (middle), and diamonds (bottom), 2018 (photos © Simone Cavadini, Talent and Partner/IIIRD Man)

Founded in 1780 in Paris, Maison Chaumet became the most prestigious and sought-after jeweler in Europe under the patronage of Empress Joséphine, wife of Napoleon I. The empress’s fashion legacy famously includes the wearing of lavish bandeaux-style headpieces and diadems; these, we learn, came from Chaumet when the firm was known as Nitot, and later Nitot & Fils (and other monikers as the years went on).

The jeweler would, in fact, not take the name Chaumet until Joseph Chaumet, who married into family of the descendant owners of the Parisian jewelry house, became director in 1889.

Thoughtful essays by Phillips, jewelry curator at the Victoria & Albert Museum, and fashion journalist Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni, provide an insightful time line that traces how Chaumet has given us tiaras at every major fashion and decorative arts epoch in history. The maison’s inspirations—botanical, celestial, avian, geometric—have remained constant, as you’ll see in the examples below.

When “queen for a day” experiences, complete with pedicures and luxurious spa or dining indulgences, even shopping for a spring wardrobe, continue to elude us, I’d say this book is a more than decent distraction.

Chaumet Fleuron motif tiara Sothebys
Fleuron-motif tiara in platinum and diamonds belonging to Edwina, Countess Mountbatten of Burma, the last vicereine of India, 1934 (photo © Sotheby’s)
Chaumet ad 1920
Preparatory study for a Chaumet advertisement, 1920 (photo © Collections Chaumet)
Chaumet Firmament Apollinien tiara
Firmament Apollinien tiara in white gold, diamonds, and sapphires from La Nature de Chaumet collection, 2016 (photo © Chaumet)
Chaumet emerald tiara
Leuchtenberg tiara in gold, silver, diamonds, and emeralds (transforms into a brooch and hair ornaments), Jean-Baptiste Fossin for Chaumet, circa 1830–40 (photo © Simone Cavadini, Talent and Partner/IIIRD Man)
Chaumet Etoiles tiara
Étoiles Étoiles tiara in white gold and diamonds from Les Ciels de Chaumet collection, 2019 (photo © Joaquin Laguinge, Blanc Agency/IIIRD Man

 

Top: Chaumet Tiaras: Divine Jewels by Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni and Clare Phillips features more than 200 illustrations, including specially commissioned photographs (image courtesy of Thames & Hudson).

 

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All That Glitters writer