Working alongside with her brother Carl-Frederic, Caroline Sheufele has been expanding their family brand founded by their parents in Switzerland back in 1963. Chopard made its reputation based on many successes: from the Happy Diamonds collection to their iconic Mille Miglia timepiece collection, the Chopard watch and jewelry collections have been adorning A-lists of celebrities traipsing down red carpets from Cannes to Los Angeles for years. More recently, they partnered with the infamous singer Rihanna to launch of a high jewelry and fine jewelry lines co-inspired by Bermuda and Swiss heritages. 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the Cannes Festival Partnership which led Chopard to unveils astounding high jewelry sets paved with unique and rare precious gemstones. The Eye of Jewelry managed to sit down with Caroline Scheufele to discuss about jewelry, strategy or celebrity.
By Eléonor Picciotto
CELEBRATING THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE CANNES PARTNERSHIP THIS YEAR, WHAT DOES IT REPRESENT FOR CHOPARD?
I has been a long journey! When I started 20 years in Cannes, it was supposed to be just one event: the opening of a boutique. Now, I looked twenty years down and we’ve come a long way. Not only Chopard but I think also Cannes a little bit, because Cannes was a much more intimate festival in a way. I had never imagined that I would eventually be asked to redesign the actual Palme…
HOW DID IT GO FROM A STORE OPENING TO THE MOST-AWAITED ANNUAL RENDEZ-VOUS?
It happened almost at the beginning. When I first went to meet with the organizers and President Pierre Viot at the time. We started discussing and he suggested I should talk to his two partners: l’Oréal and Canal + since they were missing one in the watches and jewelry industry. I said that maybe we could do something! Right from the beginning we started off a three years partnership!
YOU LOVE COLORED STONES. WHY DOES YOUR CORE COLLECTION HAVE A VERY LITTLE USE OF IT?
Good question. I think maybe because it has to do also with the sourcing. When we talk about a core collection we talk about pieces that we need to multiply easily and quickly because they have to go into our retailers boutiques and our 160 Chopard boutiques. It is much more of a challenge in the core collection to sort colored stones in big amounts. We pay more attention about the quality versus price, because often one lot of sapphires versus another one changes completely in colors and shades: either we have to recut the stones which we can but then we lose a lot.
2 YEARS AGO THERE HAS BEEN A BIG COMEBACK IN PEARLS. HOW ABOUT CREATING A HIGH-JEWELRY COLLECTION OF PEARLS THAT YOU WOULD BE DESIGNING?
I’ve always loved pearls. We launched a couple of pearl pieces in Cannes for the Red Carpet collection. I’m a big fan and I’ve always been! Although we don’t see so many in the new collection… because it’s always remained sort of secret. We have never really promoted pearls because yet again there if we do it in a repetitive way it is very hard to find the same pearl since every pearl is unique even if it’s a small one.
WITHIN THE NEXT FEW YEARS, YOUR GOAL IS TO MAKE ALL OF YOUR HIGH JEWELRY PIECES WITH FAIRMINDED GOLD. CONSIDERING THE LIMITED AMOUNT AVAILABLE, HOW ARE YOU GOING TO DEAL WITH THIS ?
Well I think that as we go along there will be more mine certified. When we started using fairmined gold, we could only mine 80 kilos per year, now we are at 300 kilos but I think that’s a positive trend.
CONSIDERING ALL THE OTHER HIGH JEWELRY BRANDS, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT STAYING INDEPENDENT AS A MAJOR BRAND OF THE INDUSTRY?
I think it’s a great liberty that we have. It also gives us the freedom in creation and the freedom in the strategy we want to do. The follow-up with our teams goes much faster since our departments aren’t run by the financial department taking over creation.
SPEAKING OF HAVING OTHER FREEDOM OF CREATION, WHAT’S THE BOUNDARY BETWEEN WATCH AND JEWELRY AS AN ARTISTIC DIRECTOR LIKE YOU ARE?
There are not many boundaries except one. If you create a watch there has to be a movement that fits into your inspiration, in your creation, and it should be functional if possible. It does not happen the same way when you create a piece of jewelry, you start from scratch on a white piece of paper sketching an idea, a form or a shape that you create around a beautiful gemstone. The big difference is that you are not restricted by the movement!
THERE ARE NO SEPARATE COLLECTIONS BETWEEN YOUR WATCH AND JEWELRY LINES. WHY IS THAT?
First, it’s nice to have something matching ! Secondly, most of our high jewelry pieces have their complete free standing and they have no little brother in the watch department. They would never have maybe because of their unique gem. Then of course, historically Chopard is a watch manufacture we cannot just leave this behind. I think it’s a great chance for us that we know how to do both and that you can have a beautiful necklace from the precious collection and eventually if you want a diamond watch that is inspired by the same design but respecting what components a watch needs.
WORKING WITH YOUR FAMILY, HOW DO YOU COPE WITH FIGHTS AND DISAGREEMENTS?
We definitely have discussions and in the case of a disagreement there is a common consensus just like in a good democracy.
AND HOW DO YOU MEASURE SUCCESS?
Basically when I see that we get happily copied all over the place I know that I have done something right. Not only that but also when you see the pieces you have designed worn by clients.
DO YOU WEAR ANY JEWELRY THAT IS NOT STAMPED BY YOU OR NOT CREATED BY YOU?
I have lucky charms and a little bracelet that was given to me but I think we repaired it 2-3 times because it wouldn’t resist. But apart from that, no.
IF YOU WERE TO NAME ONE JEWELRY DESIGNER THAT INSPIRES OR INTERESTS YOU?
I think that there are a lot of young talents, like in the fashion industry or any other industry. Often they do come up with this great idea and it gets taken over by maybe a bigger brand. Some I look up to is Fabergé for sure. I think that Jar or Boivin are geniuses. But recently, I don’t recall spotting a designer that would bring something out of my mind otherwise he or she would probably be working with us.
YOU HAVE JOINED THE SECRET FAMILY OF CELEBRITIES… IF YOU HAD A CRUSH?
Oh that’s a difficult question! Juliane Moore is probably one of the sweetest but so are Elton John or Lionel Richie. A lot of them have become friends over the years and they are just normal human-beings.
IF YOU HAVE TO DESCRIBE YOURSELF WHO ARE YOU?
I don’t know who I am anymore after six days at Baselworld having 2000 questions asked. (She is laughing…) But I trust that I am a positive person rather impatient who always see the glass half full, never half empty, I hate bad mood around me and I try not to be in a bad mood… it can happen but it is rare. I think I am a team spirit person, I like to work in a team altogether.
ON YOUR SPARE TIME?
If I have any, I would just love to lie down and listen to music. 24 hours is too short for a day ! I love going to the cinema but rarely have the time so I catch up on all the long flights. And I absolutely love cooking – I try to find some time on the weekends … I prefer Italian food and I love cookies with chocolate !
DO YOU MANAGE TO TAKE TIME OFF?
If I do, then I become very lazy I start reading and I don’t finish. I start something else and I don’t finish. I laugh. The pampering part, you go to really good massage where you get yourself three hours from the top of your head to the toe.
WHAT’S YOUR THOUGHT ON E COMMERCE IN TERMS OF JEWELRY AND MARKETPLACES?
I think communication is really important. E-commerce is definitely on the map for the core collections. On a personal matter, I don’t have time to shop and since I have a 34 size shoes I directly order online to the brands that I know.If they do not fit you can send them back. However, I don’t see myself buying a ten carat diamond on the internet because you don’t know what you are buying, it’s a question of trust and confidence. Also, when it comes to stones, you need to be looking at it yourself in your hand. If you ask me … the future will be something challenging.