In the heart of Paris we find one of the oldest and most complete collections of fine jewelry in the world. It is the treasure of Chaumet exhibited in a museum of the firm since 1780, time at which Chaumet began to write a ‘love’ history with royalty, aristocracy, musicians and artists. A history that keeps the key moments of a country such as France and that is now treasured at 12 Place Vendome in Paris.
Getting into the Chaumet Museum is going back to the eighteenth century, when the golden age of luxury and creation were in full swing. During this period, Marie-Étienne Nitot, founder of Chaumet, began to define the essence of a firm that today is immortalized on the walls of the old Hôtel Saint-James Baudart. Right at the entrance thereof, two huge paintings of Josephine Bonaparte and the Empress Marie-Louise, muses of Nitot and assiduous clients of the firm, show a first introduction to what lies behind the doors of the museum. Once inside, the Grand Salon welcomes us to this historic place, accompanied by the decoration of the renowned architect François-Joseph Bélanger. This is the oldest living room in Place Vendôme, keeping intact and unmodified since its inception. The musician Frederic Chopin spent the last three months of his life writing his final mazurka in this room, as the prodigious views of heart of Place Vendôme was and remains being a constant and wonderful inspiration.
Inside the museum there are several rooms that uniquely preserve the collection of thousands of drawings, sketches, photographs and books from the eighteenth century to our days, even some of the creations that René Lalique made for the firm at the time. Many pieces have been recovered through auctions or people looking to sell, expanding this way the collection.
One of the most striking areas is the one of the tiaras, emblem jewel of the maison. More than 1,500 models of tiaras have come to be created in the history of Chaumet, and even today, each collection includes at least a tiara. This room is a dream, since there are replicas of 500 tiaras of the Belle Époque, all different and unique: from pieces with classic designs to tiaras with wings referring to Wagner’s opera. Among these we find Josephine Bonaparte’s Tiara, the oldest of them, which dates from 1805 and that bears the symbol of fertility in it.
Besides tiaras, jewelry like rings, necklaces, bracelets, and aigrette also have an important place in the museum. Majarahás old possessions, Russian customers and royals impose marking the time and the history of the firm. Big splashy designs, as well as small and discrete pieces follow the style imposed by Nitot.
Today, after more than 200 years and 12 different generations of artisans, Chaumet keeps its essence and its memories, immortalizing every moment of history and looking for cherishing those who are about to appear.