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Among Chopard’s many bedazzling moments this awards season, Jodie Turner-Smith wowed in a jaw-dropping sapphire-and-diamond choker from the jeweler at the BAFTAs and Angela Bassett sparkled in more than 100 carats-worth of white diamond jewelry at the Golden Globes, while Emily Blunt, Sofia Carson and Eva Longoria shimmered in high-wattage Chopard creations at the 95th Academy Awards.
Now — having already starred in Chopard’s Happy Sport and Happy Diamonds campaigns since 2021 — Julia Roberts is stepping up as global ambassador for the Swiss jewelry and timepiece brand. In her new multiyear role, the Oscar-winning actress will represent all women’s watch, high jewelry and luxury jewelry collections.
“She incorporates all the collections perfectly,” artistic director and co-president Caroline Scheufele told THR over lunch at the Polo Lounge two days before the 2023 Oscars, adding that the partnership developed organically. “Julia was very sensitive to our initiative with ethical gold and the whole journey with sustainability. It’s a perfect match.” In 2018, the family-owned brand hit the mark of crafting all watches and jewelry from ethically sourced gold, and this year will incorporate its proprietary Lucent Steel (which is 70 percent recycled material) into all its watches. “That’s another step forward in a direction of transparency and sustainability,” says Scheufele.
Roberts and Scheufele first connected at the Cannes Film Festival in 2016, when the actress donned a statement emerald-and-diamond Chopard necklace with a black Armani gown and no shoes for the Money Monster premiere. “She said, ‘If I wear this emerald necklace, I don’t need shoes!’ That’s how Julia is, very spontaneous,” recalls Scheufele, who has worked hand in hand with Cannes for more than 25 years, since redesigning the Palme d’Or trophy — which she describes as originally looking like a “Plexiglas pyramid” — to be “more glamorous and more elegant” in 1998. (The luxury brand is also a longtime presenting sponsor of the Elton John AIDS Foundation Oscar party.)
Chopard’s latest campaign, shot by Alasdair McLellan, features black-and-white portraits of Roberts with jewelry and watches that pop in color. An accompanying series of 12 video vignettes — filmed by Armageddon Time and Little Odessa director James Gray, a friend of Roberts’ — include cameos by Roberts’ longtime hairstylist Serge Normant, makeup artist Genevieve Herr, fashion stylist Elizabeth Stewart and even the actress’ dog Myrtle. The first video will release March 20 (which is the UN International Day of Happiness), with a teaser ad being released today.
“Julia’s always loved jewelry, and we had fun, playing with all the Chopard jewelry, like we do in real life,” Stewart says of the week-long shoot, which took place in San Francisco. “Every time we work on a carpet look, we get lots of rings and earrings and she approaches working with them in that positive, joyous way. It was a week of art imitating life so to speak.”
Adds Scheufele, “[Julia’s] smile is from inside out and this works well with our vision for our collections. … The new campaign is a lot of smiles, because there are enough sad things on the planet.”
Over lunch, Scheufele spoke further with THR about her vision for the future of Chopard including its sustainable initiatives, her earliest memory of being wowed by a gem, and her favorite jewelry moment in a film.
What are some other things you are looking to do on the sustainability front?
We’re looking into the packaging. Do we need to make all these heavy boxes? Or can we make a beautiful box from recycled paper? Because most of the boxes, they end up in the basket when people travel. They just throw it away. Or do we give a choice to clients they can choose between this and that. We’re having a lot of discussions.
How did you first embark on the path of ethical sourcing and sustainability at Chopard?
Actually it happened at the Oscars, when Colin Firth got the Oscar for The King’s Speech and I met [his then-wife] Livia Firth [the founder of sustainability consultancy Eco-Age] and that’s how the whole ethical gold journey started. Because she said, ‘Caroline, where does your gold come from?’ And I said, ‘Actually I don’t know.” So she really put us on the road. And I did not have ask my brother [Chopard co-president Karl-Friedrich Scheufele] whether he agreed or not, because he’s very nature minded.
What are some of the unique aspects of Chopard that make it stand out in the world of jewelry?
We have the Red Carpet Collection that we present every year at Cannes. We have a very iconic DNA to Chopard which is the Happy Diamond. No other brand has a diamond spinning around, set free to make people smile. The introduction of titanium into high jewelry was a bit daring. There is not a guidebook that says that diamonds have to be set in platinum or gold. I can set a diamond in steel, which we were the first company to do with the Happy Sport. And I can set a diamond in titanium.
What’s the upside of setting jewels in titanium?
It’s the weight. I’ve been watching women taking off earrings in restaurants because they are too heavy. It’s not the diamond; it’s the gold. When you have big earrings, the weight of the gold pulls down your ears. I said we have to find a way to make beautiful big earrings with no weight and that’s titanium.
Do you have a memory of the first piece of jewelry that meant something to you?
There’s many but maybe it was a tiny little ruby heart that my dad gave me when he came back from Thailand. I still have it. It was just my first gem and I love rubies. He explained to me where the rubies come from. It was my first piece of jewelry. This one was special because it sort of opened my eyes to the world of gems.
Some people have this faith that crystals have different kinds of energy. Do you sense energies when you work with gems?
When I work with gems, when I select them for our creations, I sometimes say, ‘Not this one.’ And I can’t tell you why, but there is some energy going on between the gem and me and not for nothing there are crazy stories about haunted gems where, when they are in the possession of a certain person, they brought bad luck. It all has to do with the universe and the planet and nature. Of course, they have energy.
In addition to designing the Palme D’Or and being a partner of the Cannes Film Festival, Chopard gives out its Trophée Chopard every year at the fest to up-and-coming acting talent. How did that come about?
Over the years being in Cannes some years, I witnessed how young actors are struggling. Once your name is George Clooney or Angelina Jolie, it’s easy. But for the young talent, it’s not easy. I said, ‘I would like to — apart from being a partner — I would like to bring something physically to the film festival. So I proposed to them to make this Chopard Trophée, which is an official prize from the festival to help young talent. So that’s how the trophy started.
Do you have a favorite jewelry moment in a film?
Pretty Woman. When he gives her the necklace.
A version of this story first appeared in the March 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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