5 Questions with Chaumet's Béatrice de Plinval
Béatrice de Plinval, Chaumet Museum Curator, chats about the treasures kept within the archives of the French jewellery maison.
Béatrice de Plinval
Singapore Tatler: What treasures are kept within the Chaumet museum?
Béatrice de Plinval: The heritage of Chaumet is rich and multi-faceted. We have about 85,000 drawings in our archives, as well as photographs. All pieces created at Chaumet have been photographed since 1875, just after the invention of photographic film. So, we have an amazing archive compared to other maisons, which may have destroyed their collections due to lack of space.
Models of all our tiaras still exist, with about 400 pieces in our historical collection. I cannot pick my favourite piece, because I am always in love with the latest and newest acquisition. We are lucky because our president, Thierry Fritsch, is very supportive of us reclaiming our heritage pieces, even those that are difficult to acquire. And so is Bernard Arnault of LVMH, which bought Chaumet in 1999.
Singapore Tatler: Tell us something that we don't know about Chaumet's history.
Béatrice de Plinval: There are many things about Chaumet that have not been said or revealed. I would say that only 50 percent of the maison’s heritage has been uncovered. Because the department I created has a small budget, a lot of things remain to be researched. We need a lot of time, and time is money. But we are progressing well. I think people are now very interested in rediscovering the past and heritage.
Singapore Tatler: How have women's attitudes towards jewellery changed over the years?
Béatrice de Plinval: Women now have more independence and buy their own jewellery. For a period in the past, jewellery was only for marriage, bought by a husband for his wife. Women never bought their own jewellery. Instead, they saw it as a social emblem; that you had a husband. But, if you were a beautiful lady with many lovers, you would still be offered jewellery – that has remained the same throughout the years.
Singapore Tatler: Describe the typical Chaumet customer.
Béatrice de Plinval: Over the years, the brand has had many exceptional clients. Our customers are very cultivated and educated, and representatives of great taste and elegance. Chaumet has always evolved with its clientete, which has included the great families of Paris.
Singapore Tatler: What makes Chaumet different from other high jewellery brands, French or otherwise?
Béatrice de Plinval: We were founded before the French Revolution. The founder of Chaumet created pieces for Marie Antoinette, and Chaumet was the official jeweller for Napoleon I. The roots of Chaumet were in Versailles. That is our heritage and essence. Chaumet was there when it began and we are still here.