Caroline Scheufele: Chopard Jewelry is an investment
The world of high-end jewelry can appear confusing on the surface with single pieces of jewelry routinely reaching tens of millions of dollars in auction houses such as Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Bonham’s. These bespoke pieces produced for the wealthiest among us are traded and passed rarely and, when sold, the suspected rise in value of these rare pieces is confirmed and crystallised.
These one of a kind creations originate from jewelry “maisons” which have grown in number and in size across Europe as the market for contemporary jewelry has increased. One of these companies, Chopard, has remained family-owned since its founding in 1860. The company was sold to the Scheufele family in 1963.
Caroline Scheufele is the co-president and artistic director of Chopard. She directs the production of bespoke jewelry for the company directing the maison’s artisan jewellers to create one of a kind pieces that hold an immense amount of value.
In this article, Caroline Scheufele shares her opinions on how and why the value of jewelry increases over time and how the work of the creative director impacts the value of each piece.
The importance of material value and grading
When it comes to discussing the value of jewelry, one of the first considerations is the material value. The most valuable items are those made from the highest grade gems and metals both of which are graded using different systems based on the material.
jewelry professionals use a system produced by the Gemmological Institute of America to grade their diamonds. This independent body compares four major factors to classify a diamond: Clarity, Colour, Cut, and Carat Weight. This system allows for the most accurate classification of diamonds so that those which exhibit the rarest qualities are naturally recognised as rare and important.
Caroline Scheufele uses the most valuable diamonds as a hallmark in her collections. This was so recently with her recent “The Garden of Kalahari” necklace. This necklace used a flawless 342 karat diamond and separated it into 23 diamonds, 5 of which were above 20 karats. She named this set after the “woman miner who found it” as contemporary social commentary on women’s increasing roles in the mining industry.
Once gold is mined, it is graded based on the purity of the metal using the karat system. When classifying gems, karats are a measurement of a gem’s size. For gold, it is a measurement of its purity. Graded on a system between 1 karat and 24 karats, each karat awarded denotes a level of purity based upon how much of the weighed gold is actually made up of impurities and other minerals.
The value of gold doesn’t only come from its purity, according to Caroline Scheufele. Scheufele was quoted as saying that “(l)uxury is about a nice piece or watch you buy or fall in love with. But on top of that, if you know that the piece has been produced in a way that you can really trace to the very beginning, then it should be produced in a way that is ethical. I think that there is much more value” in an interview with Revolution.
Sentimentality is the attachment that an owner has to an item personally. Sentimentality not only determines the values from the buyer’s perspective but also from the creator’s. Each piece of jewelry tells a unique story that adds to the value over time.
In an interview with Solitaire Magazine, Caroline Scheufele talked about her own sentimental reasons for pursuing jewelry. “As a little girl, I remember going through my Mum’s jewelry box whenever she was at work. I would sneak into the bathroom and try her jewelry on.”
One type of jewelry especially known for its sentimental value is a wedding ring. Although a wedding ring could range in value from a simple gold band to an intricate ring with inset stones, each ring is deemed irreplaceable by its owner.
“I think all stones have stories to tell,” Scheufele said in the same Solitaire interview. Her work with unique creations like the Happy Diamonds line (said to be her favourite) demonstrates this. This unique design, with diamonds that float within the watch, was first introduced when she was a teenager.
“Being able to see the design and the inspiration come together to be produced into a timepiece was overwhelming and exciting” was stated by Caroline Scheufele in a Luxuo interview.
Is jewelry a good investment?
Although many pieces of jewelry can increase in price dramatically over time, it’s an unfortunate truth that many of the pieces sold by traditional retailers (especially those on the high street) are not a reliable store of value. These easily accessible pieces are made en masse at a significant mark-up meaning that the actual value of the raw materials and the labour involved in production may not be not fairly reflected the price (from the consumer’s perspective).
The jewelry worth investing in holds value because of its rarity either in material or simply because there is only a handful in existence (sometimes, even just one in existence). That being said, well-known brands which produce small amounts of an individual collection may enjoy a significant rise in open market value once the collection is no longer purchasable from the manufacturer.
Caroline Scheufele focuses on the accessibility of luxury jewelry to everyone and not on the value that the item will one day rise in value. This is why the Happy Sport was created – it introduced the same floating diamonds from the Happy Diamonds watch but made it accessible to be worn by women who would have been put off by the original design.
If you were to take one lesson away from Caroline Scheufele’s approach, it is that you should focus your buying decisions based upon the enjoyment derived from owning and wearing jewelry itself and not always the investment opportunity it may bring.