Chopard Buying Guide
Every May, the leading men and women of the silver screen walk the red carpets of the world-famous Cannes International Film Festival. Basking in the bright sunshine of the French Riviera, they offer a glimpse into a world of glitz and glamour with their pristine hair and makeup, couture gowns and showstopping jewels – many of which will have been created by Swiss jeweller to the stars and beacon of luxury, Chopard.
While the spectacular scenes of the film festival may not have been something envisaged by Chopard’s founder Louis-Ulysse Chopard, who was the son of a farmer, the brand has long been respected for its commitment to the art of craftsmanship. Founded in 1860 and initially focussing solely on pocket-watches and chronometers, Chopard has transformed itself over the years, gradually adding jewellery collections which have become iconic in their own right.
Throughout Chopard’s journey from Swiss watchmaker to a powerhouse of haute horlogerie and jewellery however, the importance of quality has remained at the heart of the brand’s core values. It is this commitment to creating timeless designs that has secured the brand’s place in the history books.
As a brand with a rich heritage and an exciting future ahead it is easy to see why Chopard is beloved by jewellery and watch fans the world over. Continually pushing forward with new designs while never losing sight of its past, Chopard offers the chance for us all to indulge in a little bit of luxury.
Here we shine a spotlight on Chopard, delving into its history, watches, jewellery, craftsmanship and of course, the collections and partnerships which have played an integral role in the development of its personality.
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Chopard’s continued success is partly owed to the brand’s undeniable ability to push the boundaries of what is expected, creating exciting and diverse collections. Success is the child of audacity and requires mastering a delicate balance between the determination to promote company growth and the ability to take calculated risks. Chopard isn’t afraid to stand out against the crowd and prides itself on creating pieces that are unique and tell a tale all of their very own.
It all began in 1860 with the humble pocket watch, when founder Louis-Ulysse established a high-precision manufacture d’horlogerie in Sonvilier in the Jura region of Switzerland. Before long the artisan watchmaker found himself rubbing shoulders with the elite, having earned a reputation among watch aficionados for producing timepieces that ensured precision and reliability. By 1885, Chopard were internationally renowned for unbelievable quality, with buyers as far afield as Eastern Europe and Russia.
Following the passing of Louis-Ulysse in 1937, son Paul-Louis took the helm and relocated the brand to Geneva – the capital of haute horlogerie and fine watchmaking. It was this decision that then allowed his son Paul-André the opportunity to secure Chopard’s legacy as a family business.
In 1963 Paul-André met with Karl Scheufele III, a man from the third generation of a watchmaking and jewellery dynasty, who had expressed an interest in acquiring a Swiss watch company to develop his business. Immediately following this meeting the sale of Chopard was secured, heralding an exciting future of the brand. With their expertise and prowess in the jewellery industry, Karl Scheufele III and his wife Karin would develop Chopard in a new way, leading to a spectacular international expansion and an enhanced reputation. Even now, more than 50 years later, they continue to play a key role in the running of the brand.
It was in 1967 that we began to see Chopard diversify, as they unveiled the first Happy Diamonds watch. A step away from traditional timepieces, the Happy Diamonds brought an innovative design twist to classic diamond-set watchmaking, with dancing diamonds sliding and spinning freely between two transparent sapphire crystals. Such forward thinking design set the tone for what was to come and even won the brand the prestigious Golden Rose of Baden-Baden award.
However, it wasn’t until 1985 that Chopard took its first steps into the world of jewellery design, with Caroline Scheufele’s design of the Happy Clown. Set with a tummy full of moving diamonds and precious stones, this playful piece of jewellery would soon become the brand’s mascot and a celebration of the birth of Chopard’s jewellery division. Chopard has since gone on to create unforgettable collections including Ice Cube, Palme Verte and of course, the iconic Happy Diamonds collection, as well as a number of awe-inspiring one-off designs.
Artisan watchmaking has been at the heart of Chopard since the very beginning. At just 24, founder Louis-Ulysse Chopard conquered the world of Swiss watchmaking, quickly gaining a reputation for creating designs that were not only innovative but champions of precision.
It was this dedication to the art of craftsmanship and the desire to create models that would stand the test of time that earned Chopard both a sterling reputation among the elite classes and two prestigious commissions; making watches for Tiv Federal and Swiss Railways.
The brand initially built its reputation on reliable pocket watches and chronometers, though over the years it took strides to continually develop the art of craftsmanship, creating awe-inspiring timepieces with remarkable accuracy being a key ingredient of their success. It wasn’t until 1976 that Chopard first took steps away from the art of traditional timepieces with the release of the first Happy Diamonds watch. This set the tone for what was to come - in 1980 the brand took the world by surprise by launching the St Moritz, an elegant steel sports watch that was both water and shock resistant.
The 80s would prove to be a busy decade for Chopard’s watch division and in 1984 it unveiled its first complicated wristwatch, the Luna D’Oro with perpetual calendar and retrograde display, before announcing a partnership with the famed Mille Miglia race in 1988.
In 1993 the Happy Sport was introduced, an audacious timepiece with diamonds floating on the dial which sparked continued success for the Happy Diamonds legacy. Then, in 1997, the world was introduced to the first watch created by the Chopard Manufacture - the L.U.C 1860, which was equipped with the L.U.C calibre 96.01-l.
Today, the brand still has a deep respect for tradition and is committed to ensuring that the skills and expertise of watchmaking are not only cultivated and updated but also passed on, to ensure faultless quality at all times.
Chopard’s foundations may have been built on the success of its watches, but there is no denying that the brand’s diverse jewellery collection plays an integral part in its identity. Creating jewellery was no doubt a natural progression for a company that had become so attuned to the art of luxurious design over the years and Chopard has created several truly breathtaking jewellery collections that both astound and inspire. From the dancing gems of the Happy Diamonds collection to the iconic pieces of the Chopardissimo collection, Chopard jewellery is renowned for its glistening charm.
As with watch design, the art of craftsmanship is vital to the jewellery division of Chopard and their master craftsmen and designers continue to develop new and exciting pieces. As a brand that encourages creativity at all times, each Chopard jewellery collection proudly boasts its own clear identity.
While the Imperial collection tells a story of passion and confidence through alluring pieces designed with refined femininity in mind, the Ice Cube collection is a celebration of urban glamour. Inspired by the Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or (which Caroline Scheufele actually redesigned in 1998) the Palme Verte collection is proudly stylish and sustainable with each piece made in Fairmined gold. Plus of course, the Happy Diamonds and Happy Heart collections have left an undeniable and impressive mark on the history of the brand.
In recent times, Chopard elected to join forces with global superstar Rihanna to create the RIHANNA ♥ CHOPARD collections. The singer worked closely with brand co-president and creative director Caroline Scheufele, combining creatively to develop the Haute Joaillerie and Joaillerie collections that blend 21st century chic with classic glamour.
Regardless of whether designing a collection in-house or working in collaboration with an artist or brand partner, one thing that remains ever constant for Chopard is the journey to sustainable luxury. The brand is honoured to recognise the artisans who help make their creations possible, abiding to the Kimberley Process to eliminate conflict diamonds from the industry. They have also put in place a self-regulation initiative for all diamond suppliers, requiring them to refrain from buying or selling conflict diamonds, diamonds from suspect or unknown sources as well as diamonds from countries and regions that have not implemented the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.
All raw materials in Chopard’s pieces are sourced from across the globe by a dedicated procurement team with the ever present passion for excellence. The brand favours long term partnerships with suppliers and aims to work with them wherever possible to improve the sustainability of the supply chain and to continue searching for new, greener solutions and alternatives.
In 2013, Chopard launched a new commitment to support responsible artisanal gold miners. This ground-breaking program, part of the Chopard Journey to Sustainable Luxury, supported the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) which directly helps artisanal mines in South America on their way to Fairmined certification. The initiative has resulted in more ethical gold being available to the jewellery and watch market and the opportunity to include Fairmined gold in its watch and jewellery collections. Fairmined gold is produced by artisanal and small-scale miners working in safe conditions and on equitable terms with their employers. By buying certified ethical Fairmined gold, Chopard is supporting those miners, their families and artisanal mining communities at large.
Events and partnerships
Chopard has long been a brand favoured by the rich and famous. Its prominence with stars of the silver screen and other luminaries grew further when it became officially affiliated with the Cannes International Film Festival in 1998. The brand’s expert goldsmiths created the Palme d’Or trophy, which is given to whoever is deemed to be the director of the best film of the year.
Within a decade Chopard had begun to create lavish jewels especially for Cannes, rather than just offering stars the chance to dip into its already glistening jewellery box. These jewels, which are now known as the Red Carpet Collection, are worn at high-end events across the world with stars such as Julia Roberts, Kendall Jenner, Victoria Beckham and many more having donned the pieces.
As well as Cannes, Chopard is also intrinsically linked with the Mille Miglia. Next year will see Chopard celebrating 30 years with the rally – the longest ever partnership between a car and watch brand. There is nothing quite like the Mille Miglia and Chopard’s link to the extraordinary event has much to do with co-president Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, whose passion for classic cars is well known. The Mille Miglia sponsorship came about just three years after Karl-Friedrich and his sister Caroline jumped into the driver's’ seat in 1985 and Karl-Friedrich has competed every year since.
In 2014 Chopard also became the official Timing Partner of Porsche Motorsport, pledging its support for the Porsche Motorsport at the LMP1 Endurance Championship with the “24 Heures du Mans” endurance race. Chopard’s Classic Racing collection stems from the passion nurtured by Karl-Friedrich Scheufele for historic cars and for motor sports in general. The collection highlights the many close affinities between the world of watchmaking and that of automobiles - precision in timing a race or in adjusting a movement; the readability of a dashboard or of a dial; the extremely powerful ties between a driver and his car, and between a man and his watch.