Carved in stone: Chanel’s Collection N°5 High Jewellery
By: Tama Lung
June 24, 2021
Chanel marks 100 years of its iconic N°5 perfume with an unprecedented high jewellery collection. Patrice Leguéreau, director of the Chanel Fine Jewellery Creation Studio, shares the secrets behind Collection N°5 with TAMA LUNG
In 1921, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel revolutionised the fragrance world with the very first “perfume for women with the scent of a woman”. Eleven years later, in 1932, she shattered the codes of French high jewellery with her “Bijoux de Diamants” collection in platinum and diamonds. And now, to celebrate 100 years of the legendary Chanel N°5, the luxury house created in her name has unveiled the first high jewellery collection ever to be dedicated to a perfume.
Collection N°5 features 123 extraordinary jewels that express the various facets of Chanel N°5 perfume, from its emerald-cut bottle stopper to the jasmine, May rose and ylang-ylang that come together to create its
“Gabrielle Chanel approached these two universes with the same visionary values, focusing on audacity and the quest for excellence,” says Patrice Leguéreau, director of the Chanel Fine Jewellery Creation Studio. “I wanted to rediscover that creative gesture with this collection, which has been conceived like a journey through the meanderings of the N°5 perfume’s soul, from the architecture of the bottle to the olfactive explosion of the fragrance.”
In doing so, Leguéreau went far beyond the drafting table to discover the true essence of N°5. “I didn’t want it to be just a tribute. I conceived this collection as an immersive experience, a journey into what constitutes the very soul and the secrets of the N°5 perfume. I wanted to rediscover the spirit of Gabrielle Chanel,” he says.
“I went to Grasse, to the fields of jasmine and May roses with Olivier Polge, the house perfumer. I nourished myself on the fragrance, questioning how we would tell this story without being too literal and translate the magic and mystery of N°5. We wanted to express the fluidity of the perfume in the metal and stonework. The dialectic of this collection quickly appeared: to transform an icon of perfumery into an icon of jewellery.”
To begin with, Leguéreau identified five key elements of the perfume: the stopper, the bottle, the number five, the flowers and the sillage (the degree to which a perfume’s fragrance lingers in the air when worn). Each element was then translated into “an explosive display” of stones in different shapes and sizes that are easily identifiable as N°5.
The emerald-cut stopper, whose shape recalls Paris’ Place Vendôme, was reimagined as rings, earrings, necklaces, bracelets and a watch crafted from rock crystal or set with diamonds, onyx, pearls and yellow sapphires. The instantly recognisable N°5 bottle, meanwhile, can be seen through the lines of white diamonds, yellow diamonds and yellow sapphires cascading over sautoir necklaces, brooches and pendant earrings.
“The use of crystalline materials, whether rock crystal or white diamonds, evokes the fragrance’s bottle all while underscoring the graphic beauty of the jewels,” Leguéreau explains. “Concealed or revealed, the N°5 bottle represents the archetype of perfume just as the diamond symbolises high jewellery.”
For the number five series, Leguéreau created a joyful ode to the iconic number’s shape in an array of gold, diamonds, yellow sapphires and amber topaz. Jasmine, May rose and ylang-ylang are likewise brought to life in a dazzling bouquet of diamonds, pearls and pink sapphires while the sillage is represented in diamonds, topazes and a Blushing Sillage jewellery set in diamonds, rubies, garnets, yellow sapphires, and pink and red spinels forming a gradation of colours resembling the golden jus of the N°5 perfume.
“In order to evoke the drops of perfume, we used pear cuts for amber and powdercoloured stones such as citrines and imperial topaz that also evoke femininity,” Leguéreau says. “The ribbon motif, echoing couture, Gabrielle’s primary activity, also adds a touch of sensuality to the design of the number five. We paid particular attention to the suppleness and ergonomics of the sets of jewels so that the gold wraps itself like a cloud of perfume around the neck.”
Collection N°5, according to Leguéreau, is the most personal and most intimate high jewellery collection Chanel has ever created. “We used the visual identity of the bottle to reach into the imagination of the fragrance,” he says. “This meant moving from the visible to the invisible, expressing, for example, the olfactory explosion of the perfume and its trace, both tangible and intangible.”
Of the 123 spectacular pieces in the collection, however, one in particular stands apart: the 55.55 Necklace. The dazzling diamond necklace features a 55.55-carat custom-cut stone of D Flawless quality set in a white gold bezel with 104 round diamonds and 42 baguette diamonds, in a testament to Chanel’s exceptional levels of creation and technical mastery.
“Only the House of Chanel could lend itself to such an exercise that reflects a powerful and assertive act, illustrated by this exceptional 55.55-carat diamond that we have mounted on a stopper-shaped bezel,” Leguéreau says. “With this spectacular gem, we wanted this necklace to be even more alive and to diffuse its different facets over the skin just like the scent of N°5.”
Featuring the profile of the stopper, the silhouette of the bottle, the fastener shaped like the number five and a cascade of pearshaped diamonds in different sizes, cut one by one, the 55.55 Necklace is indeed the ultimate tribute to Chanel N°5.
The piece is in fact so emblematic of both the spirit of the N°5 perfume and Chanel’s exceptional jewellery making that the house has chosen to keep the 55.55 Necklace in its Patrimoine to “forever be a part of the history of Chanel’s high jewellery and the symbol of the unbreakable ties that unite Place Vendôme with the N°5 perfume.”