A Paris Jewelry House Comes Back to Life

A Paris Jewelry House Comes Back to Life

PARIS — Call it the New Nouveau.

Vever, one of France’s most celebrated belle époque jewelers, is making a comeback next month, led by the family’s seventh generation of owners.

Camille Vever, 42, said she had been mulling over the idea ever since her grandmother gave her a Vever heirloom brooch for her 16th birthday. When she turned 40, she decided the time was right, left her position as the general manager of a biopharmaceutical company and enlisted one of her triplet brothers, Damien, for what they jokingly call “the oldest start-up in France.”

Vever suspended operations in 1982, and had been dormant, creatively, since the 1930s. But “I always knew there was something there worth pursuing,” Ms. Vever said during an interview in the brand’s new showroom, a space decorated in watercolor blues overlooking the Rue de la Paix.

The new Vever, they decided, would be based on the house’s signatures of flora, fauna and female forms like goddesses and nymphs as well as colorful enameling. But it would produce to order in an ecologically sound way: using recycled gold, lab-grown diamonds, alternate materials like vegetal ivory and designs made entirely in France. Even the packaging is to be fashioned from upcycled materials, with satin cushions and linings made of scraps from fashion houses.

Vever now is the only French jeweler certified as an enterprise de mission, a special status for businesses that incorporate social and environmental standards. And it expects to have a zero-carbon footprint by 2025.

Ms. Vever said today’s Vever would reflect the same sensibility as it did a century ago: “It’s luminous, innovative, and women and nature are at its center.”

Pierre-Paul Vever, the siblings’ ancestor, founded the house in 1821 in the eastern French city of Metz, but changes after the Franco-Prussian War forced the family to Paris in 1870. His grandsons Henri and Paul — the creative force and business manager — took over the business by the 1880s.

They soon became pioneers of Art Nouveau, the artistic movement that, in jewelry, featured unexpected materials like horn, glass and ivory; semiprecious stones; and plique-à-jour, or “letting in daylight,” a Renaissance-era enamel technique.

Among Henri Vever’s many award-winning designs was the Sylvia pendant, a graceful female form with diaphanous wings, in gold, enamel, diamonds, rubies and agate, now in the collection of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.

The Vever siblings have assembled a team of specialists to help reintroduce the house, including Sandrine de Laage, a veteran of Harry Winston and Cartier, as its creative director. Sandrine Tessier will do the enamel work; in 2019, she earned the distinction Meilleur Ouvrier de France, or Best Craftsman in France.

Their first offerings for high jewelry clients includes a descendant of the Sylvia pendant called Impératrice, or Empress, a figurative sautoir set with eight carats of diamonds, opalescent blue enamel wings and 400 Akoya pearls. Limited to five pieces, each in a different color of enamel, it is 350,000 euros ($425,390).

For those who prefer their jewelry without enamel there is a ginkgo flower ring set with a 2.26 fancy blue brilliant-cut diamond and surrounded by openwork petals with 390 small diamonds. A custom piece, it is €280,000.

In fine jewelry, Vever developed the minimalist Elixir line, which features simple solitaires, a 12-diamond mono-earring and engagement rings with a five-prong mount styled after the calyx of a flower. The line’s prices start at €600, substantially less than other Place Vendôme houses, Ms. Vever said.

All designs may be purchased by private appointment or online.

And who is the customer at today’s Vever? Ms. Vever described her as undoubtedly feminist, although she quickly added that the label is too restrictive.

“To me she’s strong, feminine and a fighter, and she lives by her values,” she said. “She wants to change the world through what she buys.”

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