Jewellery collection inspired by Coco’s coromandel screens
The Coromandel screens with which Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel surrounded herself were a sort of travelling tent she took with her wherever she went.
With her collection of up to 30 of these folding 17th and 18th century lacquered artworks, she could carve out spaces within rooms, create moveable walls onto which she could stick photos and drawings by her many artist friends, and immerse herself in the epic landscapes, birds, flowers and patterns depicted in lacquer by Chinese artisans.
It is these screens that influenced Chanel’s latest high jewellery collection, Coromandel. As has been the case with the last few years’ worth of high jewellery collections from the maison, this is a collection that doesn’t rely on a clutch of enormous stones (although there are plenty of those).
Rather, it’s based in high design, utilising a litany of niche techniques and materials, from lacquering and beading to mother-of-pearl marquetry and pieces worked on both sides allowing them to be fully reversible.
The 59 pieces are split into three themes – floral, mineral, and animal – with colours derived from a myriad of sources: blue, green and black lacquer, gleaming mother-of-pearl, white and fancy coloured diamonds, yellow and pink sapphires, green tourmaline beads and a huge mint-green tsavorite garnet, pearls, spinels, and even brick red jasper.
For me, the Mineral Vibration theme is the most breathtaking – homage to Mademoiselle Chanel’s love of crystals and minerals in the form of lacquered landscapes, as depicted in her beloved Coromandel screens.
Cascading waterfalls are rendered in graphic, almost fluorescent layers of green and blue lacquer, interspersed with stylized diamond foliage, floating clouds of mother-of-pearl, and yellow gold. The pieces range from a long, double strand of pearls, cinched at the collarbone on either side with horizontal panels of these mineral landscapes, to disc earrings ending in pearl drops and wide bangles.
More literal depictions of Coromandel motifs come via the Precious in Flight theme, with long-plumed birds and camellias wrought in diamond-studded white gold, mismatched in pairs of earrings and suspending emerald-cut diamonds, or a glorious pair of birds with yellow diamond plumage scattered amongst the white, and dangling huge tassels of yellow diamond briolette beads.
An art-deco-esque black, white and gold look comes through in the Fleur de Laque pieces, with delicate mother-of-pearl flowers set in black lacquer and highlighted with yellow gold and diamonds, or in the case of a particularly glorious sautoir, holding together a super-long strand of pearls, lariat-style.
These are just a handful of the pieces in the Coromandel collection, which is truly diverse whilst remaining true to its name – another standout collection from Chanel’s jewellery ateliers, and one which collectors will be clamoring to get their hands on.