In 1921, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel commissioned perfumer Ernest Beaux to create a signature scent. The couturier considered the number five to be lucky and, as the story goes, she consequently chose the fifth sample of the fragrance, deciding to name it No 5. A decade later, Mademoiselle (as she’s often known) introduced her first and only official jewellery collection, named Bijoux de Diamants, at her home on Paris’s Rue de Faubourg Saint-Honoré. Set with diamonds and sculpted using platinum that was cast to shape shooting stars and bows, most of the pieces were later disassembled. A surviving brooch was eventually recovered by Chanel, and it is now part of the house’s heritage collection.
To celebrate No 5’s 100th anniversary, Patrice Leguéreau, director of Chanel’s fine jewellery creation studio, has brought these two worlds together with Collection No 5, the first high jewellery line to pay homage to a fragrance. The 123-piece tribute collection is inspired by No 5’s iconic bottle and, most notably, features a magnificent necklace that showcases an enormous, 55.55-carat diamond.
Carved from a 170-carat rough stone to Leguéreau’s specifications, the gem is a D Flawless, Type IIa diamond, which means it’s as pure as possible—less than two per cent of gem-quality diamonds are Type IIa. Mined in Lesotho, in Africa, the jewel took over a year to shape and polish before it was mounted onto a custom-made bezel setting of 104 round- and 42 baguette-cut diamonds. Chanel plans to keep the necklace at its newly renovated flagship boutique on Place Vendôme, which is where Leguéreau video calls me from.
“The design process was very natural,” he says about the necklace before showing me his initial sketches, dated more than three years ago. “I wanted the collection to have a masterpiece that would be set with a spectacular stone.”
The necklace was Leguéreau’s concluding No 5 design. “I knew exactly what I wanted,” he says. “It had to have identifying elements of the No 5 perfume, including the stopper and bottle. It also needed to evoke the fragrance’s richness.” The emblematic scent is brought to life using pear-cut, amber- and powder-coloured stones including citrine and imperial topaz.