Nature and mythology have long been a rich source of inspiration for designers. Odes to the sun and nods to the stars grace clothing and jewellery alike, season after season. These days, it’s a more proletarian grain that has fired up imaginations and creativity: Wheat.
A symbol of fertility, prosperity, and the Greek goddess of the harvest Demeter (or Ceres in Roman mythology), it’s no wonder that the wheat motif has been an enduring one that has adorned women for centuries. In recent years, it has gone beyond a loaf of bread, spreading its influence onto the runway with bushels harvested on haute couture gowns and preppy sweatshirts. The jewel business, in particular, has embraced the motif, with maisons dedicating entire collections to wheat.
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Reflecting the trend of emphasising jewellery’s talismanic power, Chaumet turns to an ear of wheat (which has been featured in the maison’s herbarium archives since the very beginning), reviving the ancient European symbol of luck into a thing of charm and beauty. It takes the form of the L’Epi de Blé de Chaumet fine jewellery ring, which is made in a limited edition run of 40 pieces.
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Old Symbol, Fresh Beginnings
While modern-day Chaumet is renowned for its savoir-faire in crafting jewels of graceful lightness, it is also a historic Maison that has served a long line of royal and wealthy patrons, including Napoleon Bonaparte and his empresses. With an illustrious 236-year legacy behind it, the house naturally boasts an impressive design lexicon, especially for florals and other naturalistic motifs.
The wheat imagery was a firm favourite of Empress Joséphine, the first wife of Napoleon and a fashionista in her day who had many wheat jewels made for her. François-Regnault Nitot, son of Chaumet founder Marie-Étienne Nitot, also designed a wheat-motif, diamond-embellished gold and silver tiara for Empress Marie-Louise in 1811. This historical creation for Napoleon’s second wife serves as inspiration for the new L’Epi de Blé de Chaumet ring.
Made of yellow gold, the piece showcases an ancestral ronde-bosse engraving technique used for producing small 3D sculptures. The brushed gold finish gives a natural depth to the jewel, while its intricate structure invites the eye to explore every alluring detail and to take in the impeccable craftsmanship. Adding brilliance are diamonds representing wheat grains. The final effect: Miniature ears of wheat daintily enveloping two fingers, lighting up the skin with a warm glow.
The L’Epi de Blé ring is a visual delight that’s in a class of its own. Chaumet’s master craftsmen have generation-upon-generation of experience in sculptural work, endowing jewellery with shape, volume and movement.
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Born of Legends
One of four main nature-inspired themes in the house’s newest high jewellery collection, La Nature de Chaumet, wheat—as with the remaining three themes of the laurel (Le Laurier), the oak (Le Chêne) and the lily (Le Lys); all of which date far back in the jeweller’s archives—was chosen because it is traditionally symbolic of the ancient gods and their powers in classical mythology.
In the context of the La Nature collection, Le Laurier is an emblem of victory and an ode to Apollo; the Le Chêne embodies the strength of the mighty oak tree, which is the emblem of Zeus; and Le Lys represents the flower of innocence and the symbol of the kings of France.
La Nature’s wheat-themed range is similarly named L’Epi de Blé de Chaumet, and flaunts 19 exquisite and elegant designs showcasing phenomenal open-work craftsmanship. Large, collector-quality diamonds represent wheat florets, while the enchanting orangey pink hues of rare Ceylon Padparadscha sapphires lend a sun-kissed aura. These high jewellery masterpieces are one-of-a-kind, but they come with a price tag that’s out of reach for most. For the lucky 40 ladies who own the limited-edition L’Epi de Blé ring, they aren’t just getting a ring, but a jewel of luck, prosperity and fertility. It doesn’t get much better than that.
By Yanni Tan