“We had put out some branded treats at the Majestic hotel [where we were based] but also at the Martinez. A few people told me, ‘Ah, you’re the girl who makes the chocolates’, so I had to explain Chopard actually makes watches and jewelry,” artistic director and copresident Caroline Scheufele said, recalling how their three-person team operated out of a safe in her hotel room.
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More than a quarter of a century later, Scheufele’s room may now be the only quiet space in Cannes as actresses and clients elegantly jostle for pieces in “a clockwork ballet” of appointments. The Swiss jeweler hands out the Trophée Chopard to the most promising emerging talents, with Julia Roberts as godmother of the 2022 edition.
And the red carpet wouldn’t feel complete without Chopard jewels, as the Swiss house celebrates 25 years as official sponsor this year.
This started when Scheufele walked away with a Palme d’Or herself in 1997 — albeit not for filmmaking: A meeting with the festival’s then-president Pierre Viot ended with her suggesting she redesign the gold-plated and plexiglass object of that time.
Its new incarnation, presented the following year to Greek filmmaker Theodoros Angelopoulos for “Eternity and a Day,” marked the official start of the partnership between jeweler and cinematographic institution.
To mark this “double jubilee” edition, Scheufele imagined a new take on the coveted gong, figuring a palm on an octagonal cushion.
Courtesy of Chopard
On one leaf, 75 diamonds mark the festival’s milestone, while another bears 25 more to nod to Chopard’s years as official partner. The end of the palm’s stem curves into a distinct heart shape. The rock crystal cushion has been substituted with a powdery-pink rose quartz one, traditionally a symbol of eternal love.
“We were looking at different materials, perhaps a dark stone. But that wasn’t giving the message of happiness and love I intended [at a time where] we need something light and lovely,” she said.
Beyond their longstanding partnership, Scheufele also considers the festival as an obvious moment to communicate, especially around ethical gold and gemstones. “Cannes is a platform where everybody is focused on these two weeks. It’s the most media-tized event after the soccer World Cup,” she said.
Take ethical gold. “We finished the first two pieces in time for Cannes [in 2013] and one piece was worn by Marion Cotillard,” The same evening, a client purchased the bracelet the French actress wore, drawn to the added sustainable luxury angle that was still a novelty some imagined to be limited to a handful of high jewelry pieces, according to Scheufele.
“Now everything you see is produced with ethically sourced [Fairmined-certified] or recycled gold. But [it required] changing the way we work,” she said.
It is also the perfect arena to open jewelry to male wearers, as red carpet denizens dare beyond the traditional cuff links, watches and lapel adornments.
“Nowadays, people connect with a piece — I wouldn’t even call a gender-fluid approach,” said the executive, noting that younger men were increasingly leaning toward “a ring to [pair] with a watch,” wearing ear studs, with some even considering a diamond necklace.
They will have plenty to consider in the latest Red Carpet high jewelry collection. Its theme, of course, is “Chopard Loves Cinema.”
“In the beginning, we tried to choose movies that had been presented in Cannes. But that was a challenge because they aren’t always the ones that stay in people’s minds. And finding 75 of them was ‘Mission Impossible’ — also in [the lineup] by the way,” she said.
So don’t expect cultural snobbery here. There’s a bracelet evoking the “1,001 Dalmatians” — Scheufele is also a dog lover; a literal chandelier earring for “War of the Roses”; a titanium pumpkin ring that opens to reveal a slipper, straight out of “Cinderella,” and other designs nodding to “Avatar,” “Mamma Mia!” and “Pretty Woman.”
Asked to name a standout, she hesitated for a heartbeat before pointing out a black and white diamond-studded rose inspired by Charlie Chaplin’s 1931 film “City Lights,” and the first design she sketched for the collection.
“I chose all sorts of movies from around the world that somehow mark a time of the culture of cinema. But [Chaplin] marked the moment where pictures turned into movies. It’s the one with which it all started,” Scheufele said.