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Chanel designs a line of fine jewelry to celebrate the anniversary of its iconic Number Five perfume

The main objective of the creator who definitively ended in the nineteenth century with her conceptual fashion was freedom. This is how Gabrielle Chanel herself summed it up: “the other couturiers continued a fashion, while I created a style. When I was only twenty years old, I founded a couture house. It was neither the creation of an artist nor the success of a businesswoman, but the work of a being who only sought freedom”.


Chanel’s latest collection is the Maison’s most ambitious, and all of its pieces are inspired by the mystique of the Number 5 perfume.

Raised for twelve years in the Aubazine orphanage, where she learned to sew, she confronted tradition with timeless audacity. Not only did she want to make hats and costumes, i.e. couture, but she intuited the social power of fashion.

Chanel jewelry, a different vision

Catching lair du temps and bringing an emancipatory attitude to femininity, such were her challenges. Chanel expressed a new sensibility, reduced in pageantry, less dramatic and exalted, and with a high vocation for elegance. The image had to be protected. She therefore launched tailored fashion: blazers and tailleurs, pants without complexes, white, black and beige, pearls, canotiers, camellias… everything that, according to her antagonist Elsa Schiaparelli, represented a “poor luxury fashion”.


Golden Burst necklace manufacturing process.

The creator, irreverent with the heavy prejudices, liked to mix costume jewelry with precious stones. She always considered ostentation vulgar, and therefore combined the necklace of 30 emeralds set in rose-cut diamonds given to her by the Duke of Westminster with a simple sweater (and sometimes she even took it apart, as a brooch, to combine it with her sautoirs of pearls). When her name entered the fashion aristocracy, she began to commission jewelry from her trusted goldsmiths. She did not usually draw or write but gave precise instructions to Degorce jewelers; “the opposite of elegance is neither poverty nor banality, but vulgarity”.

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Bijoux de diamants, his first step in the world of jewelry.

In 1932 he took a giant step in French high jewelry with a collection made solely in platinum and diamonds that revolutionized the codes of luxury. He baptized it Bijoux de diamants, declaring to the press his purpose: “I want to cover women with constellations. Stars, stars of all sizes.”. It would be her first and only collection, and in fact for her it also consisted of a difficult paradox. Wearer of fake pearls that scandalized society, she always defended costume jewelry.


Chanel goldsmiths set the stones of the N5 Sparkling Silhouette necklace.

She was also very clear that no woman should need a man to wear jewelry. “I like fake jewelry because I find it provocative. I think it’s a shame to go around with a body loaded with millions for the simple reason that one is rich. The purpose of jewelry is not to make the woman who wears it look rich but to adorn her, which has nothing to do with it,” collects Axel Madsen, author of perhaps the best biography of Chanel with the canonical “Chanel ou l’irregulier” by Edmonde Charles-Roux. To give shape to Bijoux et diamants, she surrounded herself with great names who accompanied her on the creative journey, from illustrator Paul Iribe, who sharpened the pencil to draw them, to Henri Cartier-Bresson, who photographed them. All the pieces were detachable, and none of them had fasteners, because these frightened her.

N0 5, a revolutionary fragrance

And if next year the Chanel diamond constellation will be one hundred years old, in 2021 it is the turn of the mythical Nº 5,  a perfume that revolutionized the olfactory industry. A woman’s fragrance with a woman’s scent, as defined by Coco, who added that those who say “I never wear perfume” and whose coat smells like a closet expose themselves to a life without a chance. When, on one occasion, a journalist asked her where she had to apply the perfume, the brilliant dressmaker replied: “Miss, wherever you want to be kissed”.


On the left, an original advertisement for Chanel Number 5, with Gabrielle Chanel. On the right, zenithal shot of the Chanel Number 5 perfume bottle.

The fragrance was immortalized by Marilyn Monroe and, over time, has had Suzy Parker, Ali MacGraw, Catherine Deneuve, Carole Bouquet, Nicole Kidman or Marion Cotillard as ambassadors. Also a man: Brad Pitt. “It’s like a state of mind, a state of mind that expresses a certain idea of the realization of women, of the belief in their destiny”, so defines the perfume created by Ernest Beaux and Chanel the current perfumer of the maison, Olvier Polge.

A spectacular collection to celebrate the anniversary of the No 5.

Pouring the mystique of No. 5 on new jewelry has been the challenge faced by the firm in its last high jewelry collection, inspired by the symbols of the perfume: from its nuances, materialized in exceptional gems that represent the colors of N°5 perfume -beige, yellow and white-, to the bottle or the flowers. The number has been redesigned with a sensual and insolent brush stroke.


May roses inspire the Absolu N5 ring.

“Gabrielle Chanel approached these two worlds with the same visionary values, favoring audacity and the pursuit of excellence. I wanted to recapture this creative gesture in this collection, conceived as a journey through the meandering soul of N°5 perfume, from the architecture of the bottle to the olfactory explosion of the fragrance. The highlight of this original collection is an emblematic and exceptional necklace set with a 55.55-carat diamond,” says Chanel jewelry director Patrice Leguéreau.


Creation process of the 55.55 necklace. Coco Chanel hated jewelry clasps and made them detachable.

It is a piece that distills the personality of Number 5: from the profile of the stopper, the silhouette of the bottle, and the pear-cut diamonds of different sizes, set in a way that represents the bouquet of Grasse jasmine, May roses, neroli, vanilla, Bourbon vetiver and sandalwood.


The evocation of the rationalist bottle of Number 5 is at the heart of the 55.55 necklace.

In the 123 pieces that make up Chanel’s most ambitious jewelry collection, a very flexible architectural style aims to evoke the graphism of the bottle and the sensuality of the fragrance with compositions of rare and exceptional gems, like an aesthetic, attractive and mysterious ritual, in the manner of Coco, who once confessed to Paul Morand that the only thing she desired was immaterial: “I never had any desire for anything, only tenderness”. Creation, for her, was a great act of love.

Images courtesy of Chanel.