The history of Frederic Boucheron.
Frederic Boucheron was born in Paris in 1830 into a draper’s family and broke from family tradition to follow his passion for precious stones and fine jewellery. He started off his business in 1858 with 100,000 francs using his savings of 5,000 francs - £13,500 in today’s value, and loans from family members. In just eight years by 1866 he had not only paid back his creditors but had amassed 365,000 francs in profit.
His business started off in an arcade in the Palais-Royal which he owned and his business grew when he commissioned an architect to restyle his shop in Pompeii style. At the time in 1861, the Louvre had acquired the collection of Marquis Campana Etruscan, Greek and Roman jewellery.
This style of jewellery appealed to the more modern fashionista and femme fatale of the time and his female clients were seen as ladies who wanted to be seen, stand out and envied by other women, compared to his contemporaries who were often suppliers to society ladies of more refined, traditional tastes.
He loved to create beautiful jewellery to adorn women who could be admired for their fine jewels. These women were the women of the ‘demi-monde’ who stood out from the crowd and were beautiful, light hearted and daring.
Boucheron has a lasting legacy. His jewellery is highly desirable and worn in aristocratic circles, by royalty, and high society. Notable commissions included:
The Russian Prince Felix Youssoupoff in 1878, who purchased a corsage decorated with 6 detachable diamond bows.
Queen Elizabeth II also has a collection of Boucheron jewels.
In 1918 The Duke of Windsor by chance met Freda Dudley Ward when she sought shelter from an air raid attack in London and took refuge in the closest house which happened to be hosting a party whose guest of honour was non other than The Duke of Windsor. She introduced him to the world of Boucheron and he would go on to purchase many exclusive items – he is said to have had a love of sapphires. Over the course of 17 years their relationship moved from an intimate to a more sentimental one with her taking the role of confidante and adviser. Between 1918 and 1935 The Duke of Windsor made 75 orders from Boucheron, all mainly women’s jewellery. From 1927 onwards the pace of his purchases slowed. The Prince of Wales last purchase from Boucheron was in 1935 and was a ruby and diamond clip for Wallis Simpson. Wallis put a stop to any further contact with Freda Dudley Ward.
Other owners of his precious jewellery includes The Astor family, The Vanderbilt’s Duchess of Marlborough. Boucheron is desirable luxury jewellery brand with 34 boutiques around the world.