PARIS – Do you think that no brand can combine cultured pearls, steel cables, a transformable compass and a functional compass in a single high jewelry collection?
The Parisian jewelry house Fred can. After all, these are just some of the ideas left behind by founder Fred Samuel and explored again in a new 24-piece fine jewelry collection titled “Monsieur Fred Inner Light”.
“It was this jeweler who never did anything like the others, taking this step aside,” said Valérie Samuel, artistic director and vice-president of the jewelry house founded by her grandfather in 1936.
His starting point was a sentence from his grandfather’s memoirs, where he wrote that the “word ‘radiance’ has never left [him]. Sunlight and stones, of course, but also the inner light that shines deep within each of us.
Engraved on each piece is the sun under an arch, positioned to “symbolize light throughout the day, but also the journey through a lifetime”, explained Valérie Samuel, pointing out that important stones have also been set in the interior. using an arch-shaped claw nodding at his first shop.
But that’s where all the nostalgia ends. If the collection is also to be compared with his first retrospective, which opens on September 28 at the Palais de Tokyo, it is not a retrospective tribute.
Rather, it is intended to serve as a springboard for the continuation of its 86-year history and a manifesto on “how the fourth generation [counting Fred Samuel’s father, who was also a jeweler] can go further in the spirit of the house”, according to general manager Charles Leung.
“At this moment [in the house’s history], we need to reinforce our style, which people may not know so well. So instead of jumping into crazy imagination [worlds]we go to the root of our DNA,” such as removing the importance of gender in jewelry design or transformable elements, he continued.
For Valérie Samuel, this intensely personal collection “takes on even more meaning after discovering the man behind the house” through the next retrospective. Signatures like the “Pretty Woman” necklace, the Force 10 line or the Chance Infinie creations may tell you something, but “you didn’t know where they came from,” she said. “Now you will have this connection.”
At the heart of this is Fred Samuel’s personality, from his creative flair and sunny disposition to his unwavering belief that you can create your own luck.
Each of the six chapters bears the name of one of his character traits, summed up in a mantra inscribed on the pieces, and is inspired by the story of his life and the elements that have marked the house, such as pearls, his passion for sailing and the Sun of Ou Diamant.
Starting with the Creative Instinct set, built around more than a hundred pearls from the South Seas and Akoya, and which nods to the beginnings of the jeweler, who was the first to introduce pearls from culture on the Parisian jewelry scene in the 1930s.
Unlike the classically elegant rows that have earned it a reputation as purveyor of “Paris’s finest pearls”, the pearls are recast in gleaming clusters adorning the edges of a collar, cuff and ring like gold. foam on the shore – a nod to Fred Samuel’s passion for the sea.
A quartet of pieces named after the now-returning Soleil d’Or gem feature intense emerald-cut yellow and white diamonds, arranged to evoke sunlight on water. The 101.57 carat inspiration remains undetermined and occupies a prominent place in the retrospective.
Two sets revolve around another house signature: colored stones, notably sapphire.
In Faith in Destiny, a 28.7-carat unheated Ceylon sapphire takes pride of place on a convertible piece that can be worn as a necklace, a bracelet, a brooch or even an Albert chain on a suit. This embodies Leung’s intention “to sell men on the idea that [high jewelry] can also give them something masculine and elegant, and they won’t end up looking funny.
As for Joyful Spirit, Valérie Samuel used doublets and triplets – thin slices of hard stone superimposed to reinforce their color – under rock crystal in the shape of a sugar loaf to recreate the play of light on a mosaic-lined pool. .
Since the technique is often used to strengthen lesser quality stones, its use in fine jewelry might raise some eyebrows. But she did not hesitate to say that “respect for these techniques which are not always well mastered” was an integral part of positioning high jewelry as a “technical laboratory for pushing the limits of know-how”.
Hearts are in the spotlight on a necklace that nods to the generosity of Fred Samuel, to the family’s taste for this cut and to “Pretty Woman”.
With 50 different ways to wear it – the central motif adorned with an 8.25-carat gem has 12 – Samuel wanted to talk about “all kinds of love” and give “casual chic, everyday” a high jewelry touch.
The playful features and transformability that contribute to jewelry that could conceivably be worn regularly are also important, said Leung, who believes that current trends in fine jewelry are to “compete with the fine art market, offering [items] to store value or speculate.
“I think we should think a little bit about joy here – without needing 10 bodyguards in tow,” he joked.
The new 32-facet “Hero” diamond cut, inspired by the shape of sails, plays a prominent role in the Force 10 Winning Spirit set. “It’s the hearts of men,” Leung said, commenting on the pattern’s resemblance to Superman’s shield and how it fits with the idea that “we can all be our own heroes.”
The Hero cut added va-va-voom to five pieces in this chapter inspired by the Force 10 collection codes of steel cables, nautical handcuffs and global maritime inspiration – if the gradient aquamarines, cut in a gross of 1,250 carats were not enough.
That said, having a working compass on the four-foot-long convertible crossbody necklace is still the biggest surprise of the set — or not, given family precedent.
“We are a family of sailors, so we know the importance of finding your way,” said Valérie Samuel.
Finding it but still marching to the beat of their own drum all the way. “The Fred Samuel attitude is always very present in everything we do,” she conceded.