Cover Photo: François Jerez for Tatler Hong Kong

Boucheron’s most iconic necklace, which was first designed by the house’s founder as an expression of women’s freedom, gets a 21st-century update

The evolution of women’s style is a story of liberation—first from waist-cinching corsets, later from skirts and, more recently, from teetering high heels. But what’s lesser-known is that several decades earlier, Frédéric Boucheron was loosening women’s chains—quite literally—through his namesake jewellery.

Arguably the first contemporary jeweller to open a boutique at Paris’s Place Vendôme, Boucheron first drew his Question Mark necklaces in a sketch that dates back to 1879. The asymmetrical design was created to be worn loosely around the neck and without a clasp thanks to an ingenious spring system.

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This year, Boucheron’s creative director Claire Choisne has decided to reinterpret the collection with eight new necklaces that pay homage to the craftsmanship of Boucheron’s original design. They were recently showcased alongside several archival pieces in the maison’s plush Le 26 apartment during Paris Couture week.

“The Boucheron style is above all a state of mind,” says Choisne. “In my opinion, it is captured perfectly by the Question Mark necklace, which I wanted to reinstate as one of Boucheron’s main signature pieces as soon as I arrived at the maison.

“This stylistic approach based on asymmetry, profusion and the aesthetics of curved lines was reinforced by a technical feat that was totally innovative in jewellery: the absence of any clasp, which allowed women, if they so wished, to put on their jewellery alone, without the assistance of another person.”

Original designs featured a range of motifs including lotus flowers, bunches of grapes, poppy petals and even a snake. Choisne celebrates Boucheron’s focus on function over form by continuing with the Question Mark’s open-ended structure that allows women to dress without battling fiddly clasps.

“This necklace encapsulates the philosophy of a maison that throughout its history has incorporated in its creations the ethos of innovation. Its modernity—designed to promote freedom of expression—seems to have defied time, which for me is the hallmark of high jewellery.” Choisne asked Boucheron’s workshop to replicate 19th-century techniques as closely as possible and the new Lierre de Paris necklace is a stunning result. Craftsmen spent many hours arranging the piece’s emeralds using an en tremblant technique so that they move with the wearer.

Meanwhile, the Nuage de Fleurs necklace showcases a cluster of hydrangeas—the first flower Choisne’s daughter gifted her—that was scanned and embellished with mother-of-pearl and diamonds. The brand’s Feuilles d’Acanthe necklace in yellow gold depicts curled leaves that are delicately balanced to sit comfortably across the neck and collarbone, and Boucheron’s peacock-feather motif returns in supersized pink and white gold versions.

A 12.41-carat pink tourmaline and a nearly 11-carat Burmese sapphire elevate these two standout pieces. A completely new take on the Question Mark, Choisne’s Perles necklace offers a comparatively modest aesthetic, complete with diamond-studded lines and pearl drops. Now that’s difficult to resist.

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