Fantasies of the Orient

Fantasies of the Orient

From the splendor of Tsarist Russia to the delicacy of Japanese art: Boucheron draws inspiration from the travels of the founding family for the collection Rêve d'ailleurs, which debuts at Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris.

Frederic Boucheron did not take long to realize that French luxury had tremendous potential among the rich in other countries and other continents. Yet he lived in France during the Second Empire and founded his company in 1858, when internationalization and the crisis were yet unspoken of.

Once established, firstly in Place Vendôme, in the former apartments of the Countess of Castiglione, which dominated the sunniest corner of the square, he began to look around and travel in order to both discover the treasures of the world and to offer his treasure chest to the aristocrats, rulers and the powerful bourgeoisie, the so-called nouveaux riches.

From his travels, and those undertaken by his descendants, a collection of fine jewelry has sprung: Rêve d'Ailleurs which Boucheron is presenting at Biennale des Antiquaires (from 11 to 21 September in Paris, Grand Palais), an adventure of ultimate luxury among the treasures of the Maharaja and the splendours of China, the delicacy of Japanese art and the splendour of Imperial Russia.

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Water Lily Bracelet with cabochon Tanzanite,  mother of pearl and diamonds on white gold. Water Lily Bracelet with cabochon Tanzanite,
mother of pearl and diamonds on white gold.

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Water Lily Bracelet with cabochon Tanzanite,  mother of pearl and diamonds on white gold. Water Lily Bracelet with cabochon Tanzanite,
mother of pearl and diamonds on white gold.

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In 1878 Russian Prince Felix Youssoupoff appeared in the Paris boutique to buy a "corsage" (a rather heavy brooch worn at the centre of a corset), decorated with 6 bows of diamonds that could be detached and worn alone.  Since then, the bond with the Tsar's homeland has become an atout of the maison, so much so that in 1893 a Boucheron showcase opened its shutters in Moscow and now Claire Choisne, art director of the maison, composes the section Splendeurs de Russie in the context of Rêve d'Ailleurs.  Later, it was the son of Frederic, Louis, who developed international relations and in 1928 received a visit from the Maharaja of Patjala, a character who could decide the future fate of a jewellers: in fact, the sovereign, while opening a series of chests, asked Louis Boucheron to remount all the gems of his treasure in jewelery, an exceptional job from which today's Fleur des Indes derives.  Meanwhile commissions from the British royal family poured in, including a tiara which was to be a gift for Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother.


In 1930 Louis Boucheron went to Tehran as the Iranian authorities had chosen to evaluate the Treasure of Persia: The stay was supposed to last a few weeks, but given the extent of the heritage and charm of the culture, it lasted a year. The jeweller returned to Paris with the color blue in his eyes and soul: the blue of the pottery that lined the ceilings of mosques and of the gemstones.

A great splendour still emanates from archived pictures, the source from which Claire Choisne drew inspiration for the Trésor de Perse section, an explosion of diamonds and sapphires. While the gouaches of the 1910s inspired Rives du Japon, a precious interpretation of oriental designs, as well as Pinceau de Chine, a selection of pieces that celebrate the art of calligraphy.

As a whole, the Rêve d'Ailleurs collection offers a selection of gems of an extraordinary value, such as the nearly 16-carat Burmese cabochon sapphire similar to that which the Imperial Family of Iran bought from Boucheron and an emerald of 188 carats that illuminates the Fleur des Indes necklace, a true antique treasure trove as it once sparkled in central position on the turban of the Maharajas.  From the happy few of yesterday to those of today, or rather the collectors and enthusiasts who visit the Biennale des Antiquaires, the time gap is noticeable yet the precious imaginary remains closely tied to the fantasies and adventures to which the display windows of Boucheron intend to give shape. It is worth making a note of the date, if only to indulge in a dream.

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