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Object of Desire: Chaumet's Josephine Aigrette

By Celine Le Trieu

Chaumet/ Felicia Yap

Beneath the 238-year-old Parisian jewellery house of Chaumet's fine jewellery collection, Josephine, lies a story of the life and legacy of the French empress Joséphine de Beauharnais. Between 1796 and 1810, she was married to then a military leader of the French Revolution, Napoleon. In that short marriage, Marie-Étienne Nitot, a jeweller (and the founder of the house of Chaumet) whom Napoleon favoured, made jewellery pieces for her as well. Several of these pieces were reportedly passed on to her descendants, and remain in the custody of the lineage of her son, Duke of Leuchtenberg. Paintings and photographs of her jewellery collection revealed that empress Joséphine was fond of opulent, tiered and layered pieces — be it a necklace made of gemstones encircled by halos, linked to another layer of teardrop stones enclosed by another halo of stones, or a lavish three-tiered tiara of various French royal motifs and precious stones, or The Cameo Parure, a decorated gold tiara paired with a three-layered pearl necklace. 

Titled Aigrette, Chaumet's new addition to the Josephine collection draws from empress Joséphine's penchant for layering. The house rehashed her ornate designs in simpler, pared back iterations — four-tiered rings with brilliant-cut diamonds and white Akoya pearls, angular asymmetrical bracelets and earrings, and necklaces. 

Chaumet's Josephine Aigrette collection is now available online and in stores.