An ultra-rare 342-carat diamond provides the stones for the most precious jewellery set ever produced by Chopard
It’s the story of an extraordinary flower that ‘bloomed’ in the desert, a gem born in an arid – yet paradoxically fertile land.
It’s the story of a stunningly beautiful, pure and radiant stone whose beating heart proclaims the wonderment of natural treasures.
It’s the story of an absolute stone, The Queen of Kalahari diamond.
A brief history
The story of this stone is a journey. A journey through what makes Chopard so very singular and special, its artistic vivacity and technical virtuosity. It conveys the importance the Geneva-based Maison attaches to mastering all stages governing the creation of a piece of jewellery. At the helm of these endeavours, co-president Caroline Scheufele has consistently provided the impetus designed to guide Chopard towards pursuing excellence and exploring new territory. It is she that has followed the adventures of this extraordinary diamond step by step in the quest to ensure its lasting destiny.
The discovery of The Queen of Kalahari, this exceptional 342-carat stone of perfect colour and absolute purity, has given rise to a set of 23 diamonds – The Garden of Kalahari – of which five weigh over 20 carats. Drawing upon the virtuosity cultivated in the field of artistic craft that has forged Chopard’s reputation, six fabulous pieces of jewellery have emerged from the High Jewellery workshops of the Maison.
As a pioneer of sustainable development in jewellery, Caroline Scheufele actively encouraged the Karowe mine to join the growing number of Chopard’s suppliers – covering gold, coloured gemstones and diamonds – to engage with Eco-Age’s independent Green Carpet Challenge validation criteria, which mirrors best international practices in environmental and social justice. Caroline and the owners of the Karowe mine agreed to the visit of the Eco-Age team to independently assess all elements of its mining activities. The Karowe mine is continuing in its own journey to sustainability by moving towards the fulfilment of the standards necessary to achieve the RJC certification.
And because art and cinema are inseparably bound up with Chopard’s history and identity, each stage in this extraordinary adventure was filmed by Alexis Veller, so as to present it in a 55-minute docu-fiction film.
Discovery of a treasure
“I immediately sensed that this was an incredibly rare gem of exceptional beauty and purity”, says Caroline Scheufele when recalling her first encounter with the diamond she named The Queen of Kalahari. It was at the heart of the deposit mined in Karowe, Botswana, that this exceptional stone was found. Born of the volcanic rock known as kimberlite, formed at high temperatures and pressures across endless ages, this diamond enshrines a sense of permanence and the strength of the ties that bind human beings to the earth.
342 carats: an eloquent figure testifying to an extremely rare size for a diamond of such absolute purity and perfect colour. The Queen of Kalahari combines D colour – the most beautiful – with grade F (Flawless) clarity. “The energy and emotional charge emanating from this gem are truly incomparable”, enthuses Caroline Scheufele, who immediately travelled to the open-air Karowe mine to admire this diamond discovered a year ago. It was love at first sight. Since then, she has personally supervised each stage in its development, like a lucky star guiding it towards its luminous interpretations and thereby giving rise to the most prestigious jewellery ever to emerge from the Chopard High Jewellery workshops.
As Caroline Scheufele explains, “This is a truly exceptional stone, but we did not wish to treat it as a mere trophy, but instead to prepare it for a destiny worthy of its stature.” Entrusted to – and thus combined with – the peerless expertise of the Chopard ateliers, this 342-carat diamond has found its most eloquent expression – and its finest vocation – in an extraordinary ensemble of 23 diamonds: The Garden of Kalahari. Each of these gems, like the diamond from which they originate, is of absolute colour and purity.
Among these 23 diamonds, five weigh more than 20 carats and each of the main stone cuts – cushion, brilliant, heart, emerald and pear – is represented. “Faced with this rough diamond, we had a number of potential options. I wanted to explore every possibility and to represent all diamond cuts.” This transformation stemming from the fertile imagination of Caroline Scheufele once again testifies to the artistic vocation and savoir-faire of the Maison Chopard. From the rough stone to the completed jewellery model, this transfiguration of the original matter is made possible by virtuoso technical skills dedicated to the cause of unfettered creativity.
The Garden of Kalahari
A natural-born visionary, Caroline Scheufele is the creative soul of the Maison Chopard. Around these five stones, she has built a daring and dancing network of poetic and metaphorical symbols. Through her eyes, the radiant 50-carat brilliant cut becomes a sunflower, the 26-carat heart shape a delicate pansy, and the 25-carat pear shape a majestic banana blossom. As for the perfect 20-carat cushion cut, it indulges in a gentle tête-à-tête with the flaming poppy, while the 21-carat emerald cut floats idly alongside a water lily. Shapes, echoes, reflections and colours entwine in an enchanting scene, an extraordinary garden where poetry, light and radiance are the only rules. These five diamonds are the masterworks among the 23 diamonds composing The Garden of Kalahari – the set of diamonds cut from The Queen of Kalahari. It is around these stones that an extraordinary collection of six jewellery models has been dreamed up, testifying to the creative wealth and peerless expertise of the artistic crafts cultivated in the Chopard workshops. The collection alone represents almost a full year’s work: thousands of hours lavished on this endeavour by the eyes, heart and hands of the Chopard jewellery artisans and gemsetters.
The jewels born from the Garden of Kalahari
The centrepiece of this collection throbs gently near the heart of its wearer. The Garden of Kalahari necklace testifies to the ingenuity and the playful spirit governing Chopard design. This model is playfully interpreted in four variations, the first of which is a gorgeous and supremely modern choker to be worn alone. An entirely invisible mechanism means it can be detached in the centre and adorned with an exquisite flower to form a more sophisticated version. And for festive evenings, this flower itself serves to attach three majestically beautiful pendants, since they are adorned with the three biggest diamonds in The Garden of Kalahari: the 50-carat brilliant-cut, 26-carat heart-shaped and 25-carat pear-shaped gems. Each of these precious ‘attachments’ can be worn alone or together, culminating in the perfect necklace with all three at once.
And because Chopard loves to combine beauty with fanciful touches, two of these pendants – the heart-shaped and pear-shaped diamonds – can be worn attached to the earrings, thus creating a spectacular set matching the necklace, adorned (or not) with the flower and the brilliant-cut diamond. The earrings can also be worn without the heart- and pear-shaped diamonds, for a more discreet version. This truly singular and totally modern idea of beauty leaves the owner complete freedom to associate carats and shapes, thereby giving full scope to the fascinating diversity of moods, occasions and desires.
This collection is further enriched by a cuff bracelet adorned with two emerald-cut diamonds; two rings of which one bears the 20-carat cushion-cut diamond; and of course an astonishing secret watch that is as delicate by nature as it was to create. The Garden of Kalahari collection is entirely built around the idea of a jewellery lacework, like diamond guipure lace with a luminous cut-out motif.
High Jewellery at Chopard
“The ateliers really outshone themselves in working on this exceptional project and the synergies among the different crafts were further strengthened by the process”, enthuses Caroline Scheufele. In the Chopard workshops, everything begins with a story of hands: those of the expert, patient and inventive artisans within the Manufacture who successively applied their skills to these exceptional creations. This smooth, complementary interaction between the various talents is facilitated by uniting more than 30 crafts under the same roof. They represent a wealth that the Scheufele family carefully nurtures by focusing on the transmission of expertise from generation to generation, as well as on training. Chopard is keenly aware that the most precious heritage is above all the human factor. Chopard creations are an integral part of the proud High Jewellery tradition and artistic crafts are exercised at the very highest level there: lost-wax carvers and casters, jewellers, lapidaries, gemsetters and polishers… From lines to volumes, from goldsmithing to working on precious stones, they perpetually push the boundaries of feasibility and, by pooling their talents, give vibrant life to the most prestigious jewellery.
The Garden of Kalahari testifies to the virtuosity of the artisans involved in its conception, as well as in the genius that was essential to its development under the aegis of Caroline Scheufele. Born at her instigation and guided by her creative direction, High Jewellery has enjoyed spectacular development in recent years and currently occupies a major place on the contemporary High Jewellery scene. These creations – inspired by nature and nurtured by the singular sense of aesthetics and ethics characterising the Chopard ateliers – are the source of constantly renewed and dazzled wonderment.
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