Meeting at Baselworld with one of the most accomplished and admired ladies in the watches and jewellery industry brought a few surprises. In addition to serious replies about serious matters, Chopard Artistic Director and Vice-President Caroline Scheufele offered us a series of anecdotes and quotes that were as entertaining as eye-opening. Generous, concerned and responsible, she has always been a step ahead.
“I was at Basel Fair serving coffee when I was 15” she begins. “Of course, our booth was much smaller at the time. There were 2 people presenting the collections to customers, next to an orange shag carpet on the walls. Our booth has changed quite a bit since then” she smiles.
Would she have become a watches and jewellery designer if Chopard were not a family business?
“It was not imposed on us. I love to create. Even as a young girl, I was always doing something with my hands, sculpting, drawing… Without Chopard, perhaps I would have gone into architecture or interior decoration, or become a Bohemian painter sitting somewhere on an island…”
“What I really enjoy is following a creation from A to Z. I also like to meet with the clients because it gives me a lot of input. In many big Houses today designers get very clear instructions as to what they should create, often controlled by a finance department, and that can lead to very boring products.”
After a short pause, she adds that “It’s a great advantage to be in a family company, to have freedom to create and be able to act quickly.”
“When I was 17, during my vacation, my father sent me to Japan for a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the company. Later, we opened a series of boutiques – Hong Kong was the first in 1983. In 1993, we opened Chopard’s first Middle East boutique, in Dubai, with our partner Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons.” Pictured above at the ribbon-cutting ceremony with then Defense Minister Sheikh Mohammed, today His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Emir of Dubai, she says of the event: “Everything was always normal to me, even if the Middle East seemed exotic at the time.”
‘Happy Diamonds’ was first intended for a men’s watch before inaugurating a timepiece collection for ladies. Caroline Scheufele has greatly developed the concept of free-moving diamonds in watches and jewellery collections that include Happy Dreams, Happy Sport, and Happy Hearts. A full-fledged line of its own within the Happy Diamonds collection, Happy Hearts in 2017 introduces jewellery in 18K rose gold composed of hearts set with diamonds and malachite or tiger eye and hearts with mobile diamonds. Moving diamonds and hearts are two signature House elements, dear to Scheufele.
Also introduced in 2017 is the Happy Ocean watch, from the Happy Sport Collection launched in 1993 – the first Collection ever to mix steel with diamonds. Happy Ocean has all the functions of a diver watch and is powered by self-winding Chopard movement (01.01-C) entirely developed and produced in the Fleurier workshop. “More and more ladies practise sports, including diving” says Scheufele, “and mechanical watches are a growing market for ladies. Some of our ladies’ watches are proposed with either quartz or mechanical movements.”
Shown here is the precious jewellery version of Happy Ocean in 18-carat white gold case set with diamonds, sapphires, and rubies or topazes.
All this development has led to responsibilities that are taken within Sheufele’s stride and more. “Well, it comes with the rest” she says, referring to the overall management of 2000 people worldwide that she shares with her brother Vice-President Karl Friedrich Scheufele. Within the High Jewellery department alone, 40 people work in the ateliers, with training proposed in the workshops where more than 30 crafts are united.
Fairmined Gold and the Green Carpet Collection
“Livia Firth is at the head of Eco-Age. The first time we met was in Los Angeles when her husband (Colin) won the Oscar for “The King’s Speech”; he was wearing a beautiful L.U.C manufacture watch. She told me about her engagement in the fashion industry with Eco-Age and the Green Carpet Challenge, and convinced me we could buy gold from responsible mines rather than from the banks and play an active role in sustainable and ethical luxury.
I think ultimate luxury is knowing everything about your product from A to Z. I also think that one day Europe will impose labels to identify everything about our products. So maybe we are a step ahead. Our younger customers feel quite concerned by this, and hopefully our action will stimulate some of our colleagues. 80 % of our high jewellery, and as of this year, a more accessible boutique line, are made with Fairmined gold. And my brother wants to produce all L.U.C mechanical watches with it.”
Chopard’s Green Carpet Collection now introduces coloured stones, after gold, diamonds and opals, in partnership with Gemfields, the world’s leading producer of ethically-sourced rare coloured gemstones. Shown here are earrings from this year’s Green Carpet Collection, in 18K white Fairmined gold set with marquise-cut emeralds responsibly mined at Gemfields’ Kagem mine in Zambia.
Cannes and The Red Carpet Collection
For the Red Carpet Collection, we will have to wait for the Cannes Film Festival to start on May 17th to see it. This is Chopard’s 20th anniversary as official partner of the Festival for which it designs and crafts the Palme d’Or. The award has been made of Fairmined gold since 2014, and this year’s special version is set with diamonds to mark the Festival’s 70th anniversary.
“I always say that Basel is the appetizer and Cannes is the main course. It’s a 24-hour job” she tells us, “presenting the new collection, accessorizing…” And where will she go after Cannes? “Somewhere on a boat where the phones don’t work!” was the final smile.
Special Thanks to Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons for the opening ceremony photo, Dubai.