Jewellery

Chanel reveals Allure Celeste necklace

A new Chanel high jewellery necklace pays tribute to Coco Chanel and her 1932 diamond designs three years into the Great Depression. "Nothing could be better for forgetting the crisis than feasting one's eyes on beautiful new things

By Kim Parker

“Nothing could be better for forgetting the crisis than feasting one’s eyes on beautiful new things, which the skills of our craftsmen and women never cease to unveil,” claimed Gabrielle Chanel. Though the couturier’s comment came in 1932, three years into the Great Depression which brought the world’s economy to its knees, her words feel equally apt in our new, post-pandemic era. 

Chanel’s remark was made as she revealed her first (and only) diamond jewellery collection some 90 years ago. It was commissioned by The London Diamond Corporation, who approached Chanel to design a line of jewels that would ignite buyers’ imaginations and boost the floundering diamond market. She called on a slew of famous friends for the task: the artist Paul Iribe designed the collection for her, Robert Bresson (later a celebrated film director) photographed them, and the poet Jean Cocteau wrote the accompanying press material. Chanel’s exquisite ‘Bijoux de Diamants’ premiered to much fanfare on the fifth of November, 1932, at her townhouse on the rue du Faubourg de Saint-Honoré.

Chanel Allure Celeste necklace
Chanel’s new Allure Celeste Necklace

Today, Chanel’s eponymous house launches an astonishing necklace, the Allure Celeste, to honour her first foray into diamond jewellery nine decades ago. The piece heralds a similarly starry-themed high jewellery collection to follow later this summer (just as last year, a necklace bearing a 55.55 carat diamond within the shape of a perfume bottle prefigured a high jewellery collection dedicated to Chanel’s iconic No.5 fragrance).

“I have chosen to concentrate exclusively on the celestial theme…embodied in just one piece in 1932, but in 2022 becomes an icon in its own right,’ reveals Patrice Leguéreau, director of the Chanel jewellery creation studio today, of his sparkling design. 

A transformable necklace, Chanel’s Allure Celeste necklace reimagines the cosmic beauty of the night sky for a modern audience, with three detachable motifs that can also be worn as brooches. At the heart of the necklace lies an intense blue oval-cut sapphire ‘moon’ weighing 55.55 carats (the number 5 being Mme Chanel’s lucky talisman), surrounded by a halo of white diamonds. Meanwhile, a 8.05 carat pear-shaped diamond has been transfigured into a dazzling comet, trailing a ‘tail’ of assorted diamond cuts, and a third motif, a diamond star, echoes the twinkly form of pin from the 1932 collection. 

Chanel Allure Celeste necklace close up
Detail of the star motif from Chanel’s Allure Celeste necklace

“Chanel had a visionary approach to jewellery,” says Marianne Etchebarne, Chanel’s global head of watches and fine jewellery product marketing, clients and communication. “In a world that was deeply masculine, Gabrielle Chanel was a woman who designed for women. In her view jewellery should be an idea, not a status symbol of the men who bought it for the women in their lives.” 

Indeed, back in 1932, Chanel displayed her Bijoux de Diamants on innovative wax busts, (rather than on customary velvet trays), to emphasise how the pieces would look on a woman’s body. The ground-breaking designer abhorred clasps, which she felt impeded a woman’s freedom of movement, so she created her diamond pieces without them, whilst still making them transformable. Her necklaces became bracelets. Her brooches could be worn in the hair. In short, she ensured her new jewellery was as versatile and as pleasurable to wear as her fashion. 

One of Chanel’s necklaces from the original 1932 Bijoux de Diamants collection

“[Chanel] wanted to cover women in constellations,” says Patrice Leguereau, quoting an interview that the brand’s founder gave after the launch of Bijoux de Diamants. “I hope that this is what we have achieved, by sprinkling showers of diamonds over their décolleté, putting scintillating comets around their wrists, and presenting them with celestial shapes, illuminating women’s own radiance.”

The making of Chanel Allure Celeste necklace
A look inside Chanel’s master ateliers

Find out more about Chanel’s fascination with celestial jewels and why they are still such an enduring motif today

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