Chopard’s Caroline Scheufele on Balancing Art and Business, Her Love of Cinema, and the Jewellery She Never Takes Off
An intimate, reflective conversation with the jeweller to the stars.
BY P.Ramakrishnan  |  April 4, 2024
6 Minute Read

Caroline Scheufele juggles many a plate mid-air with manicured efficiency as both co-president and artistic director of Chopard. Jet lag doesn’t seem to bother her—the jet-setting jeweller to the stars struts the red carpet with nonchalant ease, greeting the A-listers of Asia with an affable charm that comes with constant proximity to fame.

Actress Tang Wei with Caroline Scheufele in Hong Kong. Two women on the red carpet
Tang Wei and Caroline Scheufele in Hong Kong.

We find her in Hong Kong at the newly renovated Chopard store. Be it Chow Yun-fat or Tang Wei in our part of the world, or Julia Roberts and Rihanna in the West, they are all dripping in Chopard jewels, often hand-selected by Scheufele who has that rare skillset of matching the right stone with the right star. Her affinity to jewels came first, honed over time. 

Chopard store inside look. Jewellery store interiors
Chopard store in Central, Hong Kong.

“I studied gemmology, and obviously, I have loved drawing since I was a kid,” she says as she sinks into the sofa in the private enclave of the Chopard store, a day after the festivities. She reflects, “My father was an ace in the watch business. It was a small watch company when I started, but very inspiring. I was always inspired by the pockets of diamonds I saw. And sometimes after school, I was allowed to look at the production, how a watch is made. I was living in Pforzheim [Germany], not Geneva back then, and somehow, I think I sort of got close and passionate about jewels, that glamorous part of the business.”

As the only daughter of Karl and Karin Scheufele, the family acquired Chopard in 1963. Her brother Karl-Friedrich is co-president of the business. Legend has it that young Caroline was mostly responsible for expanding the jewellery offerings of the brand to the behemoth it has now become. As we look back at her 38-plus years of experience in the high-end jewellery industry, the pages of her biography are built on formidable experience and education. 

“Learning design techniques is one thing. It is my foundation, and I think that’s one thing which is still relevant today,” she says. “But, you cannot learn to be creative or have an idea—that happens completely on another mindset. I mean, I can be sitting somewhere in Winnipeg and I see something and I have an idea for a design. It’s not because you know how to draw that you are creative; that is technical aspect, but creativity must come from within.”

As a young girl, she made a jewelled clown of her own design that was forged into a gold and diamond accessory. “I was still in school, and that was actually the original jewellery piece that triggered all the jewellery pieces of Chopard. When I was very young, I used to love going to the circus to see the animals and the acrobats and especially the clowns. I got home one day, and I sat down and drew this clown in a circle. And then my dad saw the design. He took it to the factory. I didn’t know about it then, but he made this little clown for me as a Christmas present! And I obviously I loved it. I was always wearing it!”

Caroline Scheufele with her designs at home.

In a classic case of seek-and-you-shall-find, oddly, Scheufele suddenly found the clown silhouette in other jewellery brands, much to her consternation. Her individual piece was suddenly mass consumption. “All of a sudden, there were clowns everywhere and I was not so happy. I said to my dad, ‘I have a unique piece. How is it now everywhere?’ He said, ‘That’s commercial. You will learn later.’” Did she ever!

While many bemoan the struggle of finding a work-life balance, Scheufele has to find equilibrium in her dual role of being a creative designer and co-president of a global company. She needs to oversee the artistic and commercial aspects of the Chopard empire. “It’s a fine line,” she admits. “I always tell my team, especially the designers, including a note to myself, ‘Let your spirit free.’ Let’s just create, otherwise you don’t come up with something that has not been done. You’ll just do what your marketing study says, what the consumer likes, what the data report says. Where’s the creativity?”

“Then,” she continues, “there’s the business side. When the designs are on the table, when all the sheets come in, then the feasibility has to be questioned. Is it possible to produce that piece? Does it make sense? Is it really something that will appeal to the market of today, or is it just a nice thing to do and then put in a museum?” Run as a family business makes Chopard rather unique. “The artistic and the commercial—both sides come in. I think in many companies, this is completely a separate process. Perhaps the commercial side dictates more than the drawing. In other companies, the marketing people have a lot to say.”

Julia Roberts, Elton John and Caroline at a dinner by Chopard
Julia Roberts, Elton John, and Caroline Scheufele.

If not a muse, then a central theme that Chopard has long been affiliated with is the glitz and glamour of movies. Be it the long association with Cannes Film Festival, the “Chopard Loves Cinema” theme of many of their events, or the Palme d’Or award itself (the trophy was redesigned by Caroline Scheufele in 1998), the symbiotic connection between star and jeweller has been a lucrative one. “The relationship started very organically. I love cinema, and so began our collaboration in Cannes 26 years ago. We’ve had a lot of partnerships. There have been product placement in movies, at movie premieres. It’s a major moment when for two weeks of the year, the entire movie industry comes together like nowhere else.”

Like many collectors, there are certain pieces in her jewel box that are beyond the value of stone or branding. “I have two, three pieces that are from my grandma that I cherish. Some designs from my father, too. I don’t wear them because they’re not everyday pieces, but then I have this one,” she says, tapping her wrist, “which is the hand of Fatima and this little pink diamond cross. This is something I would never ever take off. This one,” she says, pointing to a rather chunky accessory, “came from an important Buddhist temple in China. It’s nice to see how far you’ve travelled and what you take back with you. And what we hold on to.”

All images courtesy of Chopard.