Hélène Poulit-Duquesne Boucheron’s CEO Disscusses The Brand’s Major Milestones

Lindsay Judge   |   12-06-2024

Since its beginning, Boucheron has been a brand that goes against the norm.

Its founder, Frédéric Boucheron, was a trailblazer of his time, creating jewellery designs that went against the norm and opening up women to a new contemporary style of jewels. Today, Hélène Poulit-Duquesne, Boucherons CEO is continuing this mantra as she leads her team in crafting jewellery that innovates and goes against the rules. 

This year the brand will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its Quatre collection, a line that has become an icon in its own right thanks to its understated simplicity and versatile appeal. As Boucheron continues a year of celebrations to mark the occasion, we talk to Poulit-Duquesne to find out more about the future of the brand and whats in the pipeline. 

Congratulations on the 20th anniversary of the Quatre collection – why do you think this collection has become such a modern icon?

Icons are fascinating because there is no real recipe to forge them. You dont create an icon; its the clients who decide. The fact that the Quatre ring, first introduced in 2004, continues to be cherished by our customers is a testament to its enduring appeal. With its bold and urban design, Quatre is a symbol of strength and protection. I believe that those who wear Quatre embody those values, not only for themselves but also for those around them.

Quatre combines four distinct motifs from the Maisons archives – all seemingly at odds with each other – in a single genderless design. Each code honours a different facet of our history: the Double Godron (an architectural pattern first appearing in our archives in the 1860s, and representing two rings melded into one, symbolises eternal love for Boucheron); the Clou de Paris (a recurring theme in our archives since 1911, recalling the cobblestone of Paris, particularly those of Place Vendôme); a row of diamonds (employed by Boucheron since 1892, showcasing the exceptional savoir-faire of the Maison and symbolising eternity); and the Grosgrain motif (present in our archives since the 1860s, recalling our couture heritage). 

All the pieces are crafted with historical savoir-faire and cutting-edge technologies, and we regularly launch new innovative pieces, even in high jewellery. The collection perfectly embodies our positioning as ‘‘the most stylish and cutting-edge French High Jewelry Maison since 1858’’.

What do you think is the secret to longevity with a collection like this?

The secret of the collection is that Quatre transcends time, boundaries, and genders. It embodies our conviction that jewellery and High Jewelry are genderless. Since the beginning, the collection appeals to both men and women. 

Indeed, our clients like to express their unique personalities. They value the wide range of options available in the collection, which includes bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and now, even a belt! Quatre has also been reinterpreted in a variety of colours, starting with 2011’s White Edition, followed a year later by the Black Edition, and by the monochrome Radiant Edition in 2013, then the vibrant Red and Blue Editions (respectively in 2018 and 2020), as well as our latest Double White Edition, launched in 2023. We have observed that our customers like to experiment with combinations. They mix and stack different designs to create looks that are entirely their own. Quatre is much more than a collection; it represents infinite possibilities for creating ones own style. 

What is in the pipeline for the collection this year?

To kick off the celebrations, on February 29th, Boucheron organised a birthday party for Quatre at 26 Place Vendôme. Friends of the Maison came to celebrate the icon, while Vendômes parquet flooring and mouldings made way for disco balls and a dancefloor to recreate the legendary Parisian nightclubs of the 2000s. It was an Iconic Night” to remember.

Our Creative Studio has also imagined new 20th-anniversary creative pieces, exploring the collections versatility more than ever, with creations either supple or rigid, while staying true to Quatres original colours. One of the standout designs for this anniversary year is notably a Quatre belt, which can transform into six other pieces (two necklaces, three bracelets and a hair jewel). 

We have also created a Quatre anniversary campaign featuring Anja Rubik wearing a special cape. A one-of-a-kind bespoke creation made with no less than 320 Quatre rings. The campaign will be broadcast all over the world in very iconic locations. 

Finally, we are celebrating our icon throughout the year with a series of ephemeral boutiques. After the first edition in Paris in February and a second one in Seoul at the end of May, the Quatre experience will travel to Shanghai in July and Tokyo in October. 

What do you think women are looking for from jewellery today? 

At Boucheron, we believe jewellery is a question of style. Our creations have always accompanied societal evolution and womens way of living. In jewellery, we notice two different habits. Women who seek to express their style and uniqueness with bold designs who choose Quatre. Others are more attached to sentimental jewellery, to the vintage aesthetic, and prefer our second icon, Serpent Bohème. In both cases, the trend of self-gifting is growing among women who seek to celebrate their personal achievements through jewellery. 

Who is the Boucheron woman today? 

There is no Boucheron woman”. There are unique people who find a way of revealing their personality in our creations. 

Can you give us any previews of this years high jewellery collection?

I cannot reveal the theme yet but what I can tell you is that this collection is emotional, and innovative and, like all our Carte Blanche collections, it pushes the boundaries of High Jewellery.  

Can you share a little about the brand in the Middle East and whats in the pipeline for this year?

In terms of business, the Middle East is a historic and crucial region for Boucheron, which still represents a huge potential. In the region, we operate right at the very top of the market, selling to highly educated and savvy collectors. This is something I am very proud of, and that is why we will present our new Carte Blanche High Jewellery collection there next December. The specific location of this event will be unveiled soon.

In terms of jewellery, our collection Serpent Bohème collection is appreciated by customers in the Middle East, especially the most precious pieces. This year, the 20th anniversary of Quatre will be the perfect opportunity to tell the story of our jewellery icon to our clients in the region. 

How are you connecting with customers here?

By travelling to the region for our local events. The Middle East is a vibrant and innovative region, and it is changing so fast! Every time I go there, I meet inspiring, empowered women with strong entrepreneurial ambitions, reflecting the local creativity and energy I have always been fascinated by. In December, I will attend the presentation of our 2024 Carte Blanche collection. 

Whats the biggest challenge you face in your role today? 

Boucheron is the most stylish and cutting-edge French high-jewellery maison and has historically been a trailblazer in the world of high jewellery at large and in Place Vendôme, shaking things up in this traditional sector. Although we have achieved important milestones during the past nine years, my ambition as CEO is to continue developing Boucheron while keeping our start-up” spirit and agility. 

I also want to implement a company culture where our teams feel safe, listened to, appreciated, and valued. It is fundamental for me to place the individual at the centre and make sure they can grow in a safe environment where they can truly be themselves. Fostering our company culture, and our collective intelligence, and placing people at the centre of the Maisons philosophy will be my main mission and our main direction for the next 10 years. 

What is something you would still like to achieve with the brand?

Although we have achieved significant milestones over the past nine years, our mission is to continue to innovate, drive change, and disrupt our industry. Progress is at the heart of my vision for Boucheron, and our Maison must light the way. I am striving for the brand to continue to lead the way in many areas—creativity, innovation, sustainability—just like Frédéric Boucheron began doing in 1858. My next achievement will be to develop Boucherons presence in the US. 

You have great relationships with brand ambassadors – what do you look for when you are choosing a brand partner?

At Boucheron, we believe in building long-lasting relationships with individuals who share our core values. This principle guides our approach to both global and local campaigns, ensuring that our message resonates around the world. When it comes to collaborating with celebrities, whether they are ambassadors, friends of the Maison or local talents, they all embrace our ethos. This allows us to create meaningful connections with our audiences. 

The main challenge in embracing celebritiesambassadorship lies in ensuring consistency, both throughout the profiles selected and the iconography we create with them. We rely a lot on the expertise of our local teams, who know the specificities of local social media, their audiences, and expectations very well. We are cautious about having on-brand profiles. Most importantly, we are very picky about having profiles that share our values and purpose, and we avoid profiles that have too many collaborations on their social media as much as possible so the expression of the Maison is not lost among competitors. Thus, our ambassadors are selected for their unique style and individuality, aiming to have common elegance and tastes through their career and life or artistic choices.

As a brand you have always remained very loyal to your values and heritage – how do you balance this with moving forward to please todays customer? 

Innovation is in the DNA of the brand. Our founder, Frédéric Boucheron, was incredibly innovative as well as being a visionary jeweller. Consequently, if we want to respect the past, we must continue to innovate and be in tune with our time. For me, it is a duty to respect and honour the past while looking to the future. Our innovativeness and creativity allow us to push the boundaries of the sector and always remain one step ahead, therefore paving the way as the forerunner in a very traditional industry. In 2020, I decided to implement a new high-jewellery strategy. As the annual collection had to meet our commercial objectives while at the same time giving room for our Creative Director Claire Choisne to express her creativity, I decided to turn it into two collections: Histoire de Style, unveiled in January, and Carte Blanche, unveiled in July.

For our Histoire de Style collections, Claire Choisne draws her inspiration from either the archives of the Maison, a key moment in Boucherons history, or a major jewellery theme, and reinterprets it with a twist of modernity. With their initial objective being commercial, these creations are mainly aimed at more traditional clients attracted to classic designs with a view to investment. These collections are never about copying or replicating the past, but about bringing our archives into the future with ultra-contemporary creations, and thats how we differentiate ourselves from the competition. 

With regard to our Carte Blanche collections, the focus is on innovation and how it conveys poetry, art, and emotion. Thats why these collections appeal to clients like contemporary art lovers who are looking for innovation and emotions, and hence have a more image-related standpoint. For these collections, which are genuinely about pushing the sector’s boundaries, I completely trust Claire and her vision. I give her ultimate freedom to create and encourage her to truly explore the dreams and creative ideas that come into her mind.

Both these collections are important milestones as they promote and reflect our creativity and innovation twice a year. For a few years now, we have noticed that our Histoire de Style collections perform very well in the press, and that our Carte Blanche collections result in excellent sales, so we now have two annual High Jewelry collections that perform well for the Maison in these two crucial aspects: business and image.

Sustainability and ethical sourcing are very important to you as a company. Can you share the latest on this?

Our activity is inherently sustainable as our creations are crafted for eternity and passed down through generations. This is why we feel we have a duty towards those future generations to ensure our jewellery is made in a way that contributes to building a better tomorrow. In 2022, we published our first impact report, “Precious for the Future”, which outlines our sustainable framework and initiatives across three key areas: our raw materials, our operations, and Boucheron people. The main focus is on raw materials, metals and stones, as they represent a significant part of our environmental impact. 

Since 2020, we have been using 100% responsible gold, as guaranteed by the Kering Precious Metals Platform. 95% is recycled gold, and 5% comes from selected verified small-scale artisanal mines, which are either certified Fairtrade, Fairmined, or RJC CoC, or artisanal mines meeting Kering’s strict ethical and environmental standards. In addition, we donate 1% of our gold purchases to the Kering Precious Metals Fund to support a wide variety of social, ethical, and environmental projects in key sourcing communities.

Regarding diamonds, ensuring their traceability has been a priority for us. Since 2019, we have been working on various pilot projects that led us to select Sarine’s Diamond Journey solution. This technology enables us to gain verifiable data at every step of the diamond supply chain, from the mine to the final jewel. We now offer our clients a fully digitalized custom Boucheron Diamond Certificate, providing them with assurance of their stone’s quality and origin. Since 2016, we have been working toward achieving full traceability of all our diamonds by 2025. 

Coloured gemstones are more complex to trace, as they mainly come from artisanal mines. We collaborate closely with our partners to establish responsible supply chains and improve traceability. As of 2022, more than 60% of the coloured gemstones and mother-of-pearl used in our jewellery lines are traced. 

Our commitment to sustainability extends to our network of boutiques, where we aim to reduce our environmental footprint. For all our boutique openings and renovations, we have set the ambition to align with the Kering Standards for Stores by 2030 and meet the expected level of performance across 11 priority themes. 

As part of our “Precious for the Future” approach, we also strive to reduce the environmental impact of our packaging and in 2023 we launched a new jewellery case made of only two natural and recyclable materials: aluminium and wool felt. Every stage of its life cycle has been optimised, from the choice of raw materials to their end-of-life. 

At Boucheron, we are convinced that sustainability is not just a trend, but an essential part of doing business, especially in the luxury sector. It is a journey we are on with our clients, our employees, and our partners, to build a more responsible and resilient future for all.

What message would you send to our readers about the anniversary of the Quatre collection?

For Boucheron, Quatre embodies the adventure of being yourself.