Chanel's Wheat-Inspired High Jewelry Collection Is a Nod to Coco's Childhood

Chanel High Jewelry Pieces - H 2016
Courtesy of Chanel

Where’s the best location for the French label to debut its latest one-of-a-kind sparklers? The one-of-a-kind Coco Chanel Suite, of course.

Visitors flocking to the newly reopened Ritz Hotel on Paris’s Place Vendome were greeted by a surprise as the haute-couture and high-jewelry presentations kicked off this week: A garden of golden wheat, arranged in the symmetrical style of a jardin de la Française. Three flights up, editors were greeted by a harvest of another decidedly more glamorous kind and also cultivated on the famed square.

SWANKY SUITE: Inside the Ritz Hotel suite 203. (Photo: Vincent Leroux

It’s only fitting that Chanel would debut its latest high-jewelry collection at the Ritz; the legendary designer lived at the hotel for more than three decades, routinely slipping in and out a back entrance located just steps from her atelier at 31 Rue Cambon. (Before the Ritz closed for renovations in 2012, you often could spot Anna Wintour taking the same route during Paris fashion weeks.) With the Ritz’s high-wattage reopening as of June 6, where better to showcase the label’s latest haute-joaillerie collection — dubbed “Les Bles de Chanel,” or “The Wheat of Chanel” — than the just-debuted Coco Chanel Suite?

Taking their cue from the “Bles Vendome” garden installation, lush bouquets were brought indoors, serving as the framework for one-of-a-kind pieces like the “Fete des Moissons” or “Harvest Festival” necklace, crafted of 18-karat white and yellow gold and featuring roughly 120 carats of yellow and white diamonds, including a 25-carat brilliant-cut fancy intense yellow diamond at its center. “Fete des Moissons” is the centerpiece of the collection, crafted just across Place Vendome in Chanel’s jewelry workshops, and is meant to evoke the idea of wheat stalks blowing gently around a woman’s throat.

VINTAGE: A dress designed by Chanel in 1961 for Jeanne Moreau on display. (Photo: Laurie Brookins)

Why the wheat imagery? Chanel iconography is always at the top of mind for the French label, and in this case, golden wheat evokes thoughts of Auvergne, the region in central France where Coco Chanel spent her childhood years. The region is known for its wheat fields, while Chanel’s Aug. 19 birthdate also coincided with harvest time. Chanel retained fond memories of Auvergne, occasionally employing stalks of wheat in her designs (a 1961 ivory gown embroidered with stalks of wheat, designed by Chanel for Jeanne Moreau, was pulled from the archives to cement this idea at the presentation).

Diamonds crafted as delicate blades of wheat sprouted throughout the two-bedroom suite, as a yellow and white diamond brooch positioned near a marble mantelpiece, or the “Moisson d’Or,” or “Golden Harvest” suite of earrings, bracelet and necklace crafted of yellow sapphires set against white-diamond springs of wheat (the latter is another showcase piece with the lariat-like necklace totaling 523 carats in sapphires and diamonds).

Marquis-cut peridots were mixed with diamonds on another suite to conjure thoughts of young wheat, while eight marquis-cut fancy-colored diamonds formed a delicate sprig that adorned the upper shank of the “Epi Vendome” ring, highlighted by an 18.2-carat emerald crafted to echo the shape of the Place Vendome. That silhouette is also a familiar one: You’ll find it as the stopper on every bottle of Chanel No. 5.

Finally, with “Les Bles des Chanel” concluding this week, the two-bedroom suite (also known as Suite 203) soon will again be open to guests. The rate? 25,000 Euros per night, reports a Ritz Paris spokesperson — wheat not included.