Chopard’s trademark designs and collections are all-well known to anyone interested in jewelry or watches. But much like any 150-year jewelry and watch business, its history can tell you a lot about the art and fashion of long-gone eras, creativity and life in general. Oh, and there are a lot of diamonds for you to see along the way.
It all began in the Swiss Sonvilier near Bern, where in 1860 the son of a farmer Louis-Ulysses Chopard opened the watch company L.U.C, called after the first letters of his own name. The ambitious young man not only knew his craft, but also was quite keen at business – in 10 years the local success of the company was marked with the title of official Swiss railroad supplier. Production quickly expanded, as well as the urge to conquer the most prestigious and expensive watch segment. And again success has followed: Chopard pieces soon became known outside the country, and found some serious fans among the European nobility. After several decades, the enterprise became too big for tiny Sonvilier, and was relocated to Geneva under the leadership of the founder’s son, Paul-Louis. Louis-Ulysses’ grandson Paul-André, who took the helm in the late 1930s, had to manage a staff of some 150 workers. But calm winds don’t last forever, and Andre’s children refused to continue the family business. He was forced to look for a suitable buyer who appeared to be Karl Scheufele III, head of the jewelry and watch brand Eszeha with a solid history and a running factory in the German Pforzheim.
Move your diamonds
Using all his experience in the jewelry field the new owner starts production of one luxury women's watch after the other, all under the Chopard trademark. When in 1976 The Happy Diamonds collection is born, it becomes the pillar of the brand’s DNA and aesthetics for decades to come. The key design element are the diamonds literary sandwiched between two layers of glass and moving freely following the hand position. Aside from being bold, modern, and exotic, this concept also evoked the owner’s enthusiasm to interact more with their amazing piece. And now after some 42 years it still works perfectly on any forefronts – from bracelets to charms. The men's division was gaining momentum in its own way – take St. Moritz watch collection of 1980 as an example. It was Chopard’s shot on the biggest ‘watch genre’ of the era – steel sports luxury, and it certainly had some fan base. Meanwhile, the jewelry was still ahead. The future Chopard co-president Caroline Scheufele tried herself in designing jewelry at a very young age. It all started with a sketch of a clown-figure with diamonds. Karl Scheufele III liked the daughter’s idea so much that a couple of days later came home with a complete piece produced at the manufacture. After a few years, Caroline was supervising the jewelry division of the brand, and the clown became its unofficial symbol.
Reach for the stars
The last decade of the twentieth century started the golden era for Chopard artisans: the Cašmir collection with all its arabesques and floral motifs, the now-running Imperiale, the opening of a watch manufacture in Swiss Fleurier, and start of in-house movement production. Finally, in 1998 the company became an official partner of the Cannes Film Festival, and for the past 20 years, the most praised award in the world of high-brow cinema has been produced by hand in, you’ve guessed it, Fleurier. As well as Trophée Chopard, the best young actor and actress award, added to the list of prizes given on the Croisette. Is it worth adding that most of the presented stars are rocking the red carpet in the brand's products, providing perhaps the best advertisement in the world. In was natural inspiration for Scheufele to launch the Red Carpet collection in 2007 and then schedule its annual premiere to the Cannes’ dates.
Saving the world
It's no secret that most of the gold produced on the planet comes from countries without, let’s say, strict labor standards. Miner’s rights violation is nothing quite extraordinary there. Some manufacturers try to to make a serious change by acquiring precious material only from trusted suppliers. Chopard goes further and invests in the development of the industry where it all starts. In other words, the brand works directly with small mining companies that provide their personnel with a decent cash reward and all the necessary environment. Until recently, the co-president of the brand Karl Friedrich Scheufele had to admit that annual Fairmind gold amount was enough only for the jewelry and watches of the highest price range. But since the middle of 2018, Chopard has completely switched to it. Quite possibly, we are witnessing a real breakthrough: if the customer becomes more and more worried about the origin of metal, the rest of the market will be forced to react. In addition to an extensive regular catalog, the company boasts several collections in high jewelry segment. L'Heure du Diamant watches are fully covered with diamonds, numerous gems of Precious Chopard line form up complex floral compositions, and the Animal World collection of 150 items, produced for the 150th anniversary of the brand, gets the maximum out of the animal world theme. Always wanted to have huge earrings in the form of curled-up snakes? And what about a ring pretending to be a polar bear? Well, with Chopard you are definitely on the right track. There’s also a need to say a couple of words about the Garden of Kalahari ensemble, created from fragments of one large stone of rare purity. These six works of art, adorned with 23 diamonds, five of which weigh more than 20 carats. With pieces like this the brand certainly continues to make history and push the boundaries of the craft an extra mile. If the most important part is making the client a little bit happier, Chopard seems to know this business like well.
Oct. 25, 2018