As Chanel No 5 celebrates its centenary, an exceptional high jewelry necklace sees the light in a dazzling commemoration.
It took a full year to find a rough stone worthy of extolling Chanel’s most enduring talisman, the fragrance that helped build the feted maison and entrench the legend of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel. The stone had to encompass all the virtues of Chanel No 5: it had to be flawless, eternal, and with just a frisson of mystery. Finally, a diamond was found. Not the biggest, most flamboyant one, but one that could be cut to obtain a perfect octagonal gem with a symbolic weight reflecting mademoiselle’s lucky number, to be used in a one-of-a-kind high jewelry necklace.
Now, two years after Patrice Leguéreau, director of the Chanel Jewelry Creation Studio, initially dreamed up a No 5 anniversary necklace with a few pencil strokes on black tracing paper – made specially for Chanel, of course – the piece is finally being unveiled. And at its heart: the astonishing dazzler weighing in at a symbolic 55.55 carats.
This year, Chanel No 5 celebrates 100 years of being the world’s best-loved scent with an extraordinary feat of high jewelry design. The 55.55 necklace comprises a custom emerald cut, D Flawless quality stone set in 18ct white gold bezel with 104 round and 42 baguette diamonds. It is the pièce de résistance in the new Collection No 5; the first high jewelry collection dedicated to a Chanel perfume. With it, two creative worlds of Chanel – its evocative scents and beguiling jewelry – are chain-linked together.
When it was launched in 1921 as the maison’s first foray in perfume, Chanel No 5 caused a sensation. Eschewing the fragrance codes of the time – that of elegant women only wearing cloying florals, encased in equally elaborate crystal bottles – No 5 offered a fresh, clean, and thoroughly modern perfume, in an “invisible” bottle. That it has been a consistent bestseller for a century, with a near-unchanged formula, is testament to Gabrielle Chanel’s singular vision.
“From the absolute modernity of the fragrance and the purity of the bottle to the mystery of the name, Chanel No 5 revolutionized the world of perfumery,” says Frédéric Grangié, Chanel Watches and Fine Jewelry president. “In 1932, Gabrielle Chanel revolutionized another universe: that of French high jewelry, with her one and only collection in platinum and diamonds, Bijoux de Diamants, which heralded new ways of wearing jewels.” To wit, proposing elaborate pieces that were transformable; a symbol of the emancipated woman not constrained by conformity. “It’s this shared history, imbued with audacity and vision, that we wanted to embody through this new high jewelry collection,” he states.
The necklace showcases all the facets of the prized perfume, with no detail overlooked or accidental. The center stone echoes the silhouette of the No 5 bottle, the clasp is in the shape of Coco Chanel’s lucky number five, and each pear-shaped diamond, different in size, was cut and adjusted one by one to “symbolize the concentrated bouquet of the collection,” Grangié explains. “It was born from an act of pure creation.” The new collection is also the largest high jewelry offering from the maison, with its 123 pieces expressing all the dimensions of Chanel No 5. The tonalities embodied by the gemstones represent the colors of the perfume, in varying shades of yellow, amber, and pink. “Everything Gabrielle Chanel bequeathed to us still resonates today,” Grangié shares. “We remain faithful to our history, but we are also attentive to enriching it and projecting it in the future with the greatest creative freedom. What’s important is creation itself, which lies at the center of everything. Everything always starts from the design, from the idea of a piece of jewelry and the woman who will wear it.”
While Chanel pieces are made to be worn – their originator famously freed women from the sartorial constraints of the time – the 55.55 necklace will take pride of place at the maison’s Patrimoine at 18 Place Vendôme, Paris, and will not be sold. There, it will shine as an eternal embrace between the spirit of No 5 and its exceptional jewelry making.
Originally published in the March 2021 issue of Vogue Arabia