CHAUMET

Marie-Etienne Nitot 1750-1809
Francois-Regnault Nitot 1779-1853
Jean-Baptiste Fossin 1785-1848
Jules Fossin 1808-1869
Jean Valentin Morel 1794-1860
Joseph Chaumet 1852-1928
Marcel Chaumet 1886-1964
Jacques Chaumet 1926-
Pierre Chaumet 1928-

Marie-Etienne Nitot registers his maker’s mark.

1793 Marie-Etienne Nitot was employed to list the jewels and objects of vertu from the collection which had belonged to Marie Antoinette. He asked the authorities to keep them as educational pieces to teach young craftsmen. Nitot was adamant on quality from the very start of his dealings.

Nitot & Fils won the commission to create the Consular Sword, in which they designed a setting for the Regent diamond.

The strong partnership of Nitot & Fils attends the ‘Exposition Industrielle’ at the Louvre.

Nitot makes a white ‘parure’ for Princess Josephine, covered in diamonds with sprays of hydrangeas. The earrings alone cost 45,000 French Francs.

Chaumet made a famous parure of intaglios and cameos for Princess Josephine who deemed it ‘enormously heavy’ and never wore it. The parure was subsequently broken up and made into other things.

Marie-Etienne Nitot died. His son Francois-Regnault Nitot assumed control of the family business as Crown Jewellers.

Nitot completed a pearl parure which had taken him many years. He struggled with matching colours, shapes and sizes, and ended up with 408 round pearls for the sautoir and for the centrepiece of the tiara, a 337 grain pearl valued at 30, 000 French Francs.

This was the year of the Maison’s move to the Place Vendome.

After the fall of Napoleon, the business continued under the direction of Jean-Baptiste Fossin and his son, Jules, both artists, who succeeded in capturing the spirit of Romanticism in jewellery just as Nitot & Fils had done for the Empire. They had been compared to the Masters of the renaissance.

Francois-Regnault Nitot retained shares in the new firm, and Fossin were settled near the fashionable Palais Royal, over six floors, employing between twenty and thirty craftsmen, all of who were supervised by Emile Darras.

1832 Fossin & Fills were named ‘French Crown Jewellers’ and
1835 Jean-Valentin Morel was responsible for artworks from this date, managing commissions.
During a period of time the company outsourced some of their manufacture, from craftsmen who were happy to stay anonymous, or craftsmen such as Falize.

1837 Fossin & Fils were awarded the ‘Legion d’Honneur’, thus reinforcing their reputation within the Parisian circles.

Jean-Baptiste Fossin retired and his son took full control of the successful firm.

The Comptesse Le Hon commissioned a snake bracelet which could wrap around her wrist.

The revolution meant that Fossin was facing bad debts and clients owed the firm money. However Fossin kept holding on and insisted on his staff’s politeness and integrity in the hard times faced by the company.
Jean Valentin and his son Prosper Morel were at the time, trying to set up a London branch during the Second Empire. Jean Valentin had worked at Fossin, managing the workshops and creating pieces form 1834 to 1840, and had set off with his brother on this challenge to the rich trading city which London had become, along with many other ruined French jewellers.

The Morels held a stand at the ‘Great Exhibition’ in London, having made themselves popular by creating Christmas gifts sold to princesses and their families.

The Morels were granted a Royal Warrant by the Queen Victoria ‘without hesitation’.

1854 The Morels move back to Paris.

Prosper Morel’s daughter, Marie, married Joseph Chaumet. Chaumet had apprenticed as a jeweller at some family friends’ in Bordeaux, from the age of fifteen.

1885 Prosper Morel moved away from Paris to the countryside, gradually allowing Chaumet more control of the firm.

Chaumet proves himself to his father in law, who cedes him complete control of the firm.

1900 Joseph Chaumet was appointed to the Russian Imperial Order.
Joseph Chaumet sold a grand diamond necklace to the Shah of Persia.
The company prided itself with client service, a recorded story being the experience of Lady Aberconway, who owned 100 French Francs to the Ritz. Running across the Place Vendome, she asked Joseph for a loan in exchange for her Chaumet brooch. He immediately lent her the money, and handed her the brooch back, telling her she had ‘left it behind’.

At the beginning of the century, Chaumet forged himself a reputation as a master of tiaras and delicate, elegant lines. Some were inspired by nature, others designed around large stones or baroque pearls. Chaumet designed some pieces inspired by garlands, bows and tassels.

1910 Chaumet opens in New York, 730, Fifth Avenue.

Joseph Chaumet had struggled with the restrictions of war-time France and in the ten years before his death, outperformed all expectations. He named Marcel his successor.

1928 Joseph Chaumet died, Marcel Chaumet was named as Joseph’s successor. He was a believer in advertising and did so in Europe’s fairs and exhibitions.

The firm celebrated its 150th anniversary with an exhibition at the Place Vendome.

The Wall Street Crash had an impact on the firm, who had turned over just 17 million Francs, compared with 1928, where they recorded an 84 million turnover. The company carried out severe cost-cutting operations in London and Paris.

The declaration of War meant that Chaumet hid some gems, remodelled client’s jewellery by remounting, melting. Business never stopped, with French women’s best efforts to defeat the Germans by looking their best.

Chaumet adapted to the ‘New Look’ Pioneered by Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent, thus attracting a growing number of fashionably dressed women and their husbands. IN the years after the war there was so much entertaining that there were never enough jewels to adorn the time’s socialites. Lady Nutting was a Chaumet customer, the Comptesse Guy du Boisrouvrais, Mrs Peter Black, all frequented the jeweller’s.
1958 Jacques and Pierre Chaumet, Marcel’s sons, were appointed joint managing directors.

1970s Chaumet produced some important parures using unconventional combinations notably a diamond, coral and peridot mounted in yellow gold in 1974.

1972 The Louvre entrust to Chaumet the Sancy diamond for resetting.

1973 The prosperity of the East saw Chaumet’s clientele vary from the Europeans, who were in deep recession following the oil crisis.

Chaumet were innovating, notably using of bronze encaged in gold in various designs.
The less expensive lines were more open to be experimented with and follow the passing trends. Pierre Sterlé participated in the designs of the firm until his death in 1978.

1980s René Morin designed many pieces using 24 carat gold, concentrating on earrings and rings, which could be bought separately or as sets.

1987 Both Jacques and Pierre Chaumet resigned, temporarily putting the future of the company at risk.

Chaumet is no longer a family run business, and is known as Chaumet International S.A.