Caroline Scheufele Artistic Director and Co-President of Chopard discusses life during lockdown and the latest novelties from the high jewellery collections.
Caroline Scheufele has been immersed in the world of luxury watches and jewellery her whole life. Her parents Karl and Karin Scheufele bought Swiss-based watchmaker Chopard in 1963 when Caroline was just a child. At the time, Chopard was purely a watch business, but in the 1980s Caroline expanded the company into high jewellery making with her first collection.
Caroline has since worked as Artistic Director of the jewellery collections at Chopard. A role which has seen her form a close partnership with the Cannes Film Festival, at which every year the Chopard Red Carpet Collection is debuted. Of course this year all international events were cancelled and instead of heading to Cannes, Caroline found herself designing new novelties while in lockdown at her home in Switzerland.
A&E was offered an exclusive chance to discover what to expect from the upcoming high jewellery collections as A&E Editor in Chief Lara Mansour talks to Caroline at her home in Switzerland when she was given a sneak peek at some of the latest novelties.
WATCH THE VIDEO HERE…
The last few months have undoubtedly been a very tough time for everyone – how have you been handling this period and how do you remain positive at a time like this?
I don’t think anybody saw it coming and it really has presented us with unprecedented waters that we have never experienced before. Even though we have seen many wars between countries, the rest of the world somehow continues, but this has been very different.
I live in Switzerland, we are surrounded by nature and I have discovered things that I have never done because I’ve never had the time to do them. Discovering the personalities of my dogs for example! I’ve spent a lot of time at home, seen a lot of my parents, done lots of cooking – for the whole family. Cooking is somehow creative and I’ve tried out a lot of new recipes from my Grandma and other things that I have never cooked before. This is something I’ve really enjoyed and I want to continue doing. Maybe soon I’ll have a cookbook with recipes from all over the world!
I’ve done a lot of work projects at home. As we speak we are still finishing the Red Carpet collection so even though Cannes did not happen we will still have the collection coming out later on in the year. That’s keeping me very busy. We are starting to go back to the office now. China has opened up and it’s doing quite well, most of the markets in the Middle East are opened again, so we are starting to see a little light at the end of the tunnel. But these months passed so fast and you find yourself doing things that are meaningful and doing many things that you wanted to do for a long time and didn’t have the time.
What is something you have learnt from this phase or something you feel more grateful for?
We are a very connected family but I think I have appreciated spending more time with my family and this is something I will continue to do. I’ve learned a lot about people – in good and bad ways – a lot more about the human aspect. We still don’t know where this enemy came from, however, the point is that nature has also taught us a lesson. We did not care about the planet before this and now the planet has survived by itself for the first time – we have clean waters in Venice, air pollution has dropped drastically – I think this is a lesson to be learnt – to be more respectful to our planet and animals and nature. I think it’s going to have a big impact on the way people travel. It will definitely, have an impact on sustainability which is something I am already very involved in as you know.
What can you tell us about the Red Carpet collection and the inspiration?
I have been working on it since last year and the theme is about honouring nature and everything to do with it. This year is the 10th anniversary of the animal collection and there is a capsule collection within the Red Carpet collection inspired by animals. And then there are of course flowers. When we started creating the collection we didn’t know what was going to happen, so in a way, it was the right theme at the right moment.
Chopard is one of the leaders in its field when it comes to sustainability – what can you tell us about the latest developments in the Journey to a Sustainable Luxury at Chopard and what are the plans to continue to be a sustainable brand in the future?
It is topic that’s very dear to my heart and perhaps that is because I’m living in a beautiful country which has been very sustainability orientated for a long time. They say it’s the cleanest country in the world, which is something that has proven very important at this moment as Switzerland was one of the countries to handle the pandemic in the best way.
I’ve always had the belief that luxury should be transparent. The ultimate luxury is knowing that the piece that you fall in love with, whether that’s a piece of jewellery, a watch or something else, that you know how it’s been produced and that the planet was not spoiled by its production. This is something that I’ve been working on for many years and I think now a lot of others are inspired and going down the same path. This is definitely something that will hopefully remain as a positive outcome of all the suffering that we’ve had this year across the world.
Chopard has always been synonymous with excellence in craftsmanship – what can you tell us about the Artisans of Emotions concept?
When you go to our workshops you see the artisans working with so much passion and emotion and that gave us the way of redefining our key message to our friends and clients. These people are artisans of emotion and they are doing it with passion, working with their hands for timeless hours. Some pieces can take thousands of hours and they require a lot of skill and talent. We also create some stories about these artisans explaining what they do and feel. It’s a big family and whenever I get time to visit the atelier I do. It’s always my first stop when I come back from a trip.
The relationship between Chopard and the Middle East goes back many years – tell us about this and how are you staying close to your clients in the region despite what’s going on in the world now?
The Middle East was one of our very first international markets. I remember when my dad was very young he started working with key figures in the region and I also think Chopard was one of the first luxury brands in the Middle East. The idea of Chopard being a family business relates to the region as there are so many family businesses there. I think that is why we are so connected. But it’s more than just business. It’s about relationships. I love to go to the Middle East. It was one of my last trips before the pandemic and I hope one of my first trips when travel resumes.
You grew up in the heart of Chopard, surrounded by jewellery making – what are some of the fond memories you have of your childhood about Chopard?
My family had the company before it was even Chopard and I remember the workshop was very close to where we lived and often after school I would go there. There were maybe 50 people working and there was this very long corridor and I would sit on a rolling chair and rush it down the corridor! All the employees would know me! Another memory is how my mum was often sorting diamonds and I was allowed to watch, them one time she said I could help and I dropped the whole parcel of diamonds! I have lots of memories.
In 1963 my father bought the name of Chopard and the family slowly moved to Switzerland and there are many stories. My first design was when I was 16 – I used to love the circus and most of all clowns because they make everyone laugh but they are often very sad inside. So I drew a little clown and my father saw it and as a surprise he had it made for me and that was really the start of jewellery at Chopard. So that clown has a lot of importance.
What is something that you would still like to achieve with Chopard that you haven’t done yet?
I have achieved a lot but there are always new projects and new mountains that I want to climb. Something I want to do is to push sustainability further in different directions. Whether it’s with coloured stones, with other metals, our fragrances – there is a lot to be done there and when you’ve done a little part you feel better.
What is a stone that is close to your heart that you always like to have present in your collections?
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend!
Going back to the red carpet collection do you have any pieces you can show us?
All of them, as usual, are unique pieces, representing nature perfectly. There is a pair of earrings featuring orchids ones of my favourite flowers. They are totally made out of titanium so they are super light.
Then going back to the animal world, we have a little seal ring. It’s fully set with diamonds. Then we have a dolphin with a Paraiba and a beautiful watch with emeralds and diamonds in a flower shape.
Last but not least we have a beautiful bracelet with pink and white diamonds inspired by the blossoms of the Japanese cherry tree.
What is a challenge you are facing now that you can share with us?
A challenge, of course, is keeping the business going because a lot of our boutiques were shut. So slowly they are starting to open again. Another challenge is also the lack of human contact – because I think we all need it and I am seeing clients at their homes but we are not meant to be talking to each other only over screens. Yes a lot of work can be done in this way and I think more will be doing in this way going forward, but I think the general human touch and the warmth of being with people is a challenge and we need to re-establish that because it’s something that everyone is lacking.
How would you describe Chopard in one word?
There are many words attached to Chopard but I would say happiness.
What is a message you would like to send to the people in the Middle East?
First of all, I would like to send you a very warm “hello” from Switzerland. I miss you all, I miss the Middle East, I’m missing human contact and I’m missing the warmth of your country, the good food! I hope that you’re all healthy, that’s the most important thing and I think that is a lesson learned because without health we have nothing. Then comes love and then comes the rest.