The Ultimate in Luxury: Boucheron and Paris’s Historic Mint Collaborate on a Series of Exclusive Coins That Merge Jewelry With Money
The two iconic French institutions came together to produce a unique object that marries artistry and utility.
This year is Boucheron’s 160th anniversary, and ahead of its grand unveiling next month of a newly renovated historic boutique at 26 Place Vendôme, the storied jeweler is debuting another reason to celebrate: a new collaboration with the prestigious French mint, also known as La Monnaie de Paris.
The partnership, which brings together two exemplars of French cultural history, called for their respective craftsmen to marry their ancestral traditions to produce a collection of limited-edition coins—part jewelry, part numismatic collectible—to appeal to connoisseurs of high craftsmanship.
Claire Choisne, the creative director of Boucheron who oversees the design of its jewelry and watch collections, joined representatives from the Monnaie to unveil the collection over a lunch composed by Guy Savoy—the French chef whose three-star Michelin restaurant is located in the mint’s building on the Quai de Conti—along the Seine in the 6th arrondissement of Paris.
“We were thrilled with the opportunity to work with artisans who share our vision of creativity and who, like us, use their technical knowhow to bring life to new objects that are born out of dreams,” Choisne said.
A Tradition of Audacity at Boucheron
Founded in 1858 by Frédéric Boucheron, the house of Boucheron is today owned by Kering, the luxury group whose holdings include Gucci and Saint Laurent. Four generations of exceptional craftsmanship in both high jewelry and watchmaking have flourished at Boucheron, which has continuously striven to innovate in both design and the use of materials.
The highlight of the new coin collection is a 2.2-pound octagonal coin with a face value of €5,000 (around $5,700) that evokes both the shape of the Place Vendôme and that of an emerald-cut stone, and set with a diamond-studded ivy leaf—a motif long cherished by Boucheron.
Produced in a limited 11-piece edition, the coin also pays tribute to the address of the Monnaie at 11 Quai de Conti.
A Dialogue of Master Crafts
In 2010, to showcase its own heritage, the Monnaie de Paris launched a program of collaborations known as “Excellence à la Française,” inviting some of France’s best craftsmen to design limited-edition coins intended for collectors.
The “Excellence” label was part of an overall plan by the Monnaie to simultaneously promote traditional crafts and cutting-edge technology. Founded in 864 and charged with producing France’s coinage for 12 centuries, the Monnaie possesses state-of-the-art workshops that include engraving and striking ateliers alongside jewelry and enameling workshops, where some 300 craftsmen produce medals, gold coins, and official decorations. The idea for the collaborations likewise stemmed from the belief that combining classic technical skills with modern approaches would produce exceptional new objects.
About a decade ago, the Monnaie decided to open its doors to the public after long being an institution shrouded in secrecy. Following extensive renovations that began in 2011, the Monnaie reopened in 2014. With sweeping views of the Louvre Museum across the river, its headquarters has since become a vibrant hub for art, craft, and creativity.
Starting in 2014, the Monnaie also began a program of contemporary art exhibitions, the first of which was Paul McCarthy’s provocative Chocolate Factory. Through next February, it is hosting the first solo exhibition in France dedicated to the irreverent British artist Grayson Perry, titled “Vanity, Identity, Sexuality.”
Under the “Excellence” label, the Monnaie has thus far collaborated with the jewelers Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, the crystal-maker Baccarat, and the fabled porcelain company Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres. Even Guy Savoy, the flag-bearer for culinary creativity, was invited to collaborate. (He designed a series of collectible coins inspired by the egg, a foundational ingredient of his kitchen.)
A Collection to Embody the Design Codes of Boucheron
Boucheron is the latest French luxury houses to join the mint’s prestigious roster of “Excellence” partners.
“The Monnaie identified Boucheron as one of the most innovative of French jewelers,” said Claude Giffin, the mint’s marketing and development director. “Given that collector coins evoke celebrations, we decided that it would be fantastic for the 2018 edition of “Excellence à la Française” to coincide with Boucheron’s 160th anniversary.”
To create its edition, Boucheron invited the Monnaie’s teams of craftspeople to its creation studios to review the history of the jeweler and together come up with a design that embodied the design codes of the house.
“The universe of Boucheron is extremely rich, but we opted to focus on the fundamentals,” Choisne said. “We started with the fact that Boucheron was first to settle on the Place Vendôme, and combined that with the theme of Triumphant Nature that has been central to the house.”
The ultimate design that resulted combines the image of the Place Vendôme and its iconic central column with the ivy leaf, both associated with Boucheron.
“We agreed that the coins would represent ivy growing out of Boucheron’s maison and onto the Place Vendôme, virtually invading the square and its paved surface,” said Joaquim Jimenez, the Monnaie’s creative director and principal engraver.
A major perennial challenge for the mint when collaborating with a jeweler is to translate the design of a three-dimensional piece of jewelry onto a two-dimensional coin.
“For the main coin, we engraved the piece and Boucheron produced the diamond-set leaf, which was then fitted onto the coin,” Jimenez said. “It was a work of high precision and true collaboration.”
Besides the diamond-studded gold coins, the collection includes gold or silver coins stamped with face values ranging from €500 to €10. Among those, the €200 gold coins and €10 silver coins are shaped like an ivy leaf.
“We had dreamed of coins that would not be round, but more like a piece of jewelry with a realistic design to give them more life,” Choisne said. “That produced the ivy-leaf coin in high relief.”
The collection offers both partners a rare opportunity to renew themselves by creating highly original, collaborative works of masterful craftsmanship.
“This was an extraordinary collaboration,” Choisne said. “We both derived great satisfaction from pushing the limits of our respective knowhow.”
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