As a freelance writer, Mr. Aubry had lent a hand to fashion designers like Alexandre Vauthier and Bouchra Jarrar. In recent years, he has worked with Patrick Goossens to strengthen his family business, best known for being the originator of the rock crystal long necklaces and Byzantine-inspired cuffs favored by Coco Chanel (Goossens was acquired by the house of Chanel couture in 2005).
Although jewelry, like fashion, reflects the zeitgeist, for Mr. Aubry, fashion is not the end of the game. own life, ”he said. “What does not matter is that someone knows my name, because in my world it is the jewel and the wearer – there is no room for a designer between them. “
Mr. Aubry could as well channel the founders of Arthus-Bertrand, two soldiers of the French Revolution – one embroiderer of military flags and insignia, the other publisher of geography and travel books – whose company took off quietly in 1803 when Napoleon, short of funds, imagined an economical way to reward his loyal soldiers: the medal of the Legion of Honor, still the highest distinction in France.
For 213 years, the family business on the left bank has functioned as a fashion house, centralizing around fifty specialized trades as varied as cutting, stamping and engraving of metal and re-drilling (cutting metal with the finesse of lace), sculpture in mother-of-pearl and grand feu enamelling, a technique that has almost disappeared.
As one of the last strongholds of specialist metallurgy in Europe, Arthus-Bertrand continues to serve tradition, producing medals, commemorative coins, decorations, trophies and ceremonial necklaces for monarchs, presidents and cultural institutions from 35 countries, of the Order of the British Empire. for the United Kingdom with ceremonial swords for the “immortals” of the French Academy. Prototyping is still done using 19th century tools, such as a huge stamping press known as a sheep.
For generations, prominent French families have also turned to Arthus-Bertrand for engraved family coats of arms, signet rings and gifts on important dates. Today, christening medallions, Mother’s Day charms and more account for 60% of the company’s $ 39 million in annual business, making it the world’s leading jeweler in this category. Turning legacy jewelry into new pieces is another mainstay. Earlier this year, the house artisans reassembled an important octagonal emerald that could be attributed to Catherine, Empress of Russia, who placed it in the frontal band of her horse’s bridle.