Thursday, February 01, 2007

for all you jewelers out there...

Okay... this is going to be a long one!!!!!

Today I had the most amazing day! Completely insane! Don't really even know where to begin!

Okay... last week in Place Vendome, I walked into Boucheron... a very old school, up scale French jeweler, know for it's amazingly high quality... and insanely high prices! Well, to make a long story short, I thought I would be kicked out of the store for looking like a grubby gypsy child (compared to the hoity-toity types that usually shop there)... but instead I made a friend. Well, I think I more so became a project to him. This gentleman knows how hard it is to make contacts in the jewelry industry... so he just wanted to help me out. So, first he made some phone calls... he had somebody waiting at Chanel for me to show me their new line, etc.

But he called me on Tuesday... and informed me that he got me permission to visit the Boucheron shop!!! This is such an amazing thing he had done for me. They just don't let any schlub off the street into the shop... I think I just looked pathetic enough that they took pity on me!

So I headed over there today. And it was insanity! They have the last shop on the Place Vendome... my friend was very proud to tell me that Cartier doesn't even have that. (The showroom is on the bottom floor... the shop is on the top floor... underlined in red.) The shop manager doesn't speak English... and my French is appalling! So, my friend translated for us.

This is the shop where they make their one of a kind, multi million dollar pieces, so the security to get into there was insane! Steal doors (that resembled vault doors) with pass codes... I wouldn't be surprised if they have finger scanners, hehehe! They even have to enter a pass code to leave. When we walked in, the designers hurriedly put away all the designs they were working on for the fall/winter collection (it's confidential.) They showed me the sketches from the current season... everything is drawn and painted to scale (to help with the exact design of the setting and to figure out the man hours and pricing.) Then they build a model of the piece out of Plasticine and gouache, to figure out EXACTLY what this will take to build (work out any kinks, etc.)

All of their designs are inspired by the stones they acquire (function follows form) except for one... which was amazing, but no photos, sorry!

So, next they walked me through the shop. I NEVER KNEW A SHOP COULD BE THIS CLEAN!!! It is white! IT IS A WHITE SHOP! Most shops I have seen/worked in have been a dullish gray brown and filthy! This was insanity! It was like a lab.

They showed a piece that they were in the middle of fabricating. One person creates a wax (if that is how they are building it) and that same person cleans the casting and does any fabrication work from there. Then it goes to the polisher, then to the stone setter then to the polisher again. Sounds normal (for us jewelers), right? WELL, NO... NO IT'S NOT! When they carve a wax... and there will be lots of setting on it... they carve (BY HAND, NO CAD!) a honey comb on the back side! Perfect little 6 sided boxes! Then when they polish those boxes, they don't just cram a end bristle brush in there... oh no... they use a piece of cotton string with polishing compound on it. All by hand! And they don't hold it to some huge buff when they are using the motor... it's all about targeting the areas! Everything they do is that precise.

Now... they have people intern there for 2 years before they are allowed to work on actual gold or platinum. They told me I can send them my application to apprentice... hehehe. And the average employee is there for 15+ years... some for 30! Unheard of in the states... but they just kept saying 'when you work for the best, why would you work anywhere else?'

But my favorite part was that they believe in quality over quantity. For them, on average, they set approximately 6 stones an hour per setter... where as in the states, the would not fly for a professional stone setter. But they strive for perfection!

At the end of my stay there, after we said goodbye to the shop and their crew... we headed back to the show room. My friend showed me a few pieces that they had recently finished. I am wearing one of them in the above photo. It is over 100 carats of diamonds, columbian emeralds, and platinum... over 800 man hours to complete... the price 2,390,000 EUROS! And what does that translate to in US Dollars... 3,113,021! Insanity! I had a 3 Million Dollar Necklace on!!!

So, for you jewelers out there... I hope you can understand how amazing this experience was! And for everybody else... I HAD ON A THREE MILLION DOLLAR NECKLACE!!!! hehehehe

1 comment:

Tails said...

Wow something so amazing and no comments??

I cant imagine wearing $3mil worth of necklace!! This experience for you must be like visiting and shooting NY Fashion Week for me ;)

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