In a world dominated by big luxury conglomerate groups, Chopard is one of the last family-run watchmaking and jewelry brands. Today, the company is led by siblings Caroline and Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, who share the title of Co-Presidents. While Karl-Friedrich manages the men’s collection, Caroline is responsible for the women’s collections, designing the magnificent colorful pieces that sparkle on the necks, wrists, fingers, and ears of the most fabulous movie stars and tastemakers from around the world.
On the occasion of the brand’s most recent Red Carpet Collection launch – usually coordinated with the canceled Cannes film festival, which has been sponsored by Chopard since 1998 – Vogue Arabia sits with Caroline Scheufele, who shared her inspirations, her passion for nature and sustainability, and the secrets of being a successful designer.
As a creative person, how do you start the design of a collection?
My inspiration comes from many sources. I travel a lot and this makes every day different. Traveling from country to country, I am fortunate to meet people from different cultures – and this, along with nature and art, is an important source of inspiration for my designs. Of course, gemstones themselves inspire me strongly; they speak to me. Every design, every collection has a story behind it.
What inspired you for this new collection? Do you have a piece that you really love personally?
It is difficult for me to choose between my creations. The Happy Spirit jewelry is now reinvented through a new design that is sleeker, lighter, and more luminous than ever. It is childhood summed up in one smooth move: that of a pebble sent skimming across the water, where aquatic circles echo a playful impulse. As for the Happy Sport watch, I imagined the first women’s watch combining steel and dancing diamonds back in 1993. Since then, this collection has become a must have; a sporty-chic timepiece fully embodying its era and reflecting every move of the women who wear it. I have now reinvented the Happy Sport Joaillerie in two jewelry versions showcasing diamonds by means of a prong setting which gives the diamonds a lighter and even more luminous effect. It shows that in terms of craftsmanship, we master both fields: watchmaking and jewelry.
There are again references to nature. Why does nature inspire you so much?
Indeed, for me nature is the ultimate source of inspiration. It has been given to humankind as a precious gift that should be treasured, respected, and protected. Natures’ beauty and splendor has been contemplated by people for centuries. Everyday, nature recalls us how lucky we are to be alive. I strongly believe that nature has this unique and magical power that transcends us. This is why artists have always been trying to depict its beauty.
What comes first? The stone or the design?
High jewelry is about sublimating gemstones. I have to say that gemstones – colored and precious stones – are my biggest love. Their unique properties and stories are special to me and are a frequent inspiration behind my creations. Precious stones speak to me, I can feel their energy, and I spend a lot of time studying them and thinking of various designs. I always like to push the limits further and to play with gems in different sizes and colors to create one-of-a-kind and exceptional pieces. There are no rules, I often start with the gemstones themselves but sometimes I also start from the design. I create from a sleepless night, for instance, the monkey necklace from the Animal World Collection. When the design comes first, it always remains the challenge to then find the perfect gemstone to fit it.
As someone who is part of the jewelry world, is there any particular iconic stone or piece of jewelry you wish to own?
I am lucky to constantly be surrounded by exceptional gemstones, diamonds, and high jewelry pieces. Maybe you remember the Queen of Kalahari diamond? It was love at first sight! When I could touch this incredible rough stone for the first time, I felt its strong energy. This rare and exceptional 342-carat rough diamond turned out to be of perfect D color and absolute purity. The Queen of Kalahari has given rise to a set of 23 diamonds – the Garden of Kalahari – of which five weigh more than 20 carats each. As of today, it is the most precious jewelry set ever manufactured by Chopard.
Many young designers look up to you and admire your work. What is your advice for the younger generation?
A designer starting a new jewelry business should let their heart speak through their creations in order to build a unique, attractive collection. It is all about passion, love, and emotions devoted to your work as well as discovering your own source of inspiration. While designing a new collection, focus on a theme, create a story for your jewelry, and keep in mind that jewelry pieces should enhance the wearer’s beauty.
The Cannes film festival is one of Chopard’s most magnificent moments during the year. What is the impact of the cancelation of the festival on the brand?
We are all currently trying to navigate through unprecedented times, whatever decision will be made by the organizers of the Cannes film festival, I am sure they will have the best interests at heart for all parties involved. From our side, we will reveal, as every year, our Red Carpet Collection. We are very proud of and this year, nature gets a special stage…
Before the pandemic, Chopard was already leading the conversations on sustainable jewelry. Are you going to increase these efforts in post–pandemic?
Chopard’s long journey to sustainable luxury led the maison to achieve a 100% ethical gold supply chain and, for sure, our journey goes on. I am proud to be spreading the message that a different, more responsible way of doing business is possible. Obviously, there are still many challenges that need to be met, like expanding the list of sustainable materials we can use. This concerns also our industry as a whole. But as I always say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. It is a long journey but it is the right one.
Do you believe that post–pandemic, people will shop jewelry differently?
After this long period of lockdown and confinement, I think people will enjoy going out again, heading to the luxury boutiques for a one-of-a-kind and sensory experience. But maybe other people got used to online shopping and would prefer to order even luxury pieces online via trusted platforms, and have them delivered directly at home. I guess there is no norm, let’s wait and see.