Chaumet In Majesty: A Journey Through The Crown's Jewels

BY Sarah Garden / Jan 27 2020 / 08:25 AM

Peerless in its romantic history, Chaumet’s jewellery is so much more than just exquisite design and glittering gems…

Chaumet In Majesty: A Journey Through The Crown's Jewels
Tiara belonging to Empress Marie-Louise, circa 1811
Chaumet In Majesty: A Journey Through The Crown's Jewels
Tiara from the wedding basket of the Duke and Duchess of Montellano, circa 1891
Chaumet In Majesty: A Journey Through The Crown's Jewels
Tiara belonging to Princess Henckel von Donnersmarck, circa 1900
Chaumet In Majesty: A Journey Through The Crown's Jewels
Carnation Tiara, circa 1905
Chaumet In Majesty: A Journey Through The Crown's Jewels
Sunburst Aigrette, circa 1916
Chaumet In Majesty: A Journey Through The Crown's Jewels
Baroque Pearl Tiara, circa 1930
Chaumet In Majesty: A Journey Through The Crown's Jewels
Firmament Apollinien Laurel Tiara, 2016

“Sweet and matchless Joséphine, how strangely you work upon my heart,” Napoleon Bonaparte famously – and romantically – wrote to his wife shortly after they met. Her name is synonymous with love, largely down to the eloquence of her husband’s often-quoted love letters.

A portrait of Napoleon’s great love, Empress Josephine

Two centuries later and the empress has a lasting legacy with another symbol of infatuation – a tiara of pearls and cameos, made in 1809 by Marie-Étienne Nitot, founder of Maison Chaumet, depicting the story of Cupid and Psyche. The heirloom was passed through the family, and is now part of the Swedish royal collection.

The exhibition Chaumet in Majesty: Jewels of Sovereigns Since 1780 at the Grimaldi Forum in the Principality of Monaco, tells the story of some of the maison’s most famous tiaras and fine jewels. It’s a lesson in aristocracy and social climbing, victory, but also defeat.

Chaumet’s Salle Des Diademes

Chaumet family legend states that Nitot bravely halted a runaway horse that was pulling Napoleon Bonaparte. After their chance meeting, the soon-to-be emperor quickly realised that if he was going to rule, he needed to look the part, and so did the ladies of his court. Napoleon’s love for all things fabulous ignited a passion for fine jewels amongst nobility, and all ladies invited to a ball would adorn themselves, showcasing their wealth and power.

Emperor Napoleon in his coronation robes

And so began Chaumet’s beautiful longstanding relationship with French aristocracy. Since 1780 the maison has made 3,500 tiaras, solidifying its social status at the helm of high-society headwear


From Harper's BAZAAR Arabia's December 2019 Issue

Images: Chaumet