Coco Chanel introduced her iconic tweed jackets and skirts nearly a century ago, and to this day her namesake brand continues to update and reinvent the look that built the company, sending fresh takes down the runway season after season. But this year, the Parisian house spun a new tale for its high-jewelry collection, creating an impactful—and complex—piece that outshines its textile predecessors.
In order to produce the “woven” texture of the Tweed Couture Patrimony necklace, Chanel had to develop entirely new techniques. “It was very complicated,” says Patrice Leguéreau, director of the house’s Fine Jewelry Creation Studio, with no little understatement. Leguéreau worked with the maison’s jewelry workshop to connect hundreds of individual gem-set elements to gold chains. The result is strands of stones that look—and drape—as though they were tailored, not welded, together.
“It’s like in fashion, when the dress is finished and it must be adjusted,” he says. “It takes time to perfectly fit it to the specificity of the body of a woman.”
The necklace took a total of 1,700 hours to craft and is set with white diamonds, pearls, pink sapphires, and pink and red spinels. The colored stones are what make the piece pop. “I chose the pink color to express a very extreme femininity,” says Leguéreau. “It’s a color that is very important to the Chanel universe.”
1. Aligning the Parts
A jeweler uses tweezers to align each of the 18-karat-pink-gold and platinum parts according to Leguéreau’s design (visible in the background) before setting them. “We work them differently,” says Leguéreau of the two metals. “They don’t have the same strength, so we have to be very careful and work with them separately. Of course, it’s a nightmare for the jewelers—when they see my drawings with different colors, they are not very happy. But it’s really important for me that it enriches the creation.”
2. Hinge Making
The components of each vertical “thread” are articulated like hinges—so the strands can move with the wearer—before being pavé-set. Here, a pin is added to allow for that flexibility.
Eight 18-karat-pink-gold chains are woven through the jeweled elements of the necklace to make it resemble the house’s beloved tweed. A jeweler mounts them individually, paying careful attention to the positioning on the vertical ribbons as well as the chains’ ability to move on the neck.
4. Jewel Connecting
According to Leguéreau, connecting each strip of jewels to the pink-gold chains is the most complicated step in the process. “It is the first [necklace] like this, so we were like pioneers,” he says. The gem-set segments are placed at slightly irregular intervals, “so we had to spend a lot of time to adjust and to fix all the elements together.”
5. Centrepiece Setting
The centerpiece 10.2-carat cushion-cut diamond is placed into its setting, and myriad tiny adjustments are made to ensure it sits perfectly. Typically, stones are bought precut, but given the sheer number of gems involved and the precision shaping required for each, Chanel had multiple rough stones recut specifically for this necklace. Of these, the pink-sapphire baguettes proved the most labor-intensive.
6. Fine (Final) Adjustments
The 1,820 stones are mounted one by one. Here, a jeweler makes fine adjustments before setting the 193 cultured pearls. (Chanel hasn’t put a price on the finished example and intends to house it in its archive.) “It’s like a dream that became reality,” says Leguéreau. “I try to dream big at the Chanel level, and I do my best to create amazing things, but I always expected the final result to be even better, more beautiful, and more exceptional than I had dreamed.”