The Belle Epoque is among the most glamorous periods in jewelry design, with ornamentation that is extremely feminine and romantic. French for "beautiful era," the splendor of the Belle Epoque period is captured beautifully in this magnificent Boucheron choker, circa 1905. It is the most lavish of choker styles and is a rare example since many diamond-set creations from this era have been reworked into 'modern' pieces.
As the reserved Victorian mentality came to an end at the turn of the century, the separation between the classes also became more prominent. Society's privileged class fully embraced decadence in all facets of daily living. In France, champagne was perfected and haute couture was invented during the Belle Epoque. Beautiful and dazzling jewels became a much desired luxury and, in turn, the Belle Epoque was an exciting time in jewelry history. The introduction of platinum during this period enabled jewelers to make intricate designs of incredible delicacy and strength.
A master jeweler of the era, Frederic Boucheron was the first jeweler to establish himself in the Place Vendome. Legend has it that he chose the address at 26 Place Vendome - where The House of Boucheron remains to this day - because it was the sunniest corner of the square and would make the diamonds sparkle more brilliantly. Once an old private mansion, 26 Place Vendome had previously been owned by Contessa Virginia Verasis di Castiglione, famous for her beauty and turbulent society life as a mistress of Emperor Napoleon III.
The opulence of the social environment also helped pave the way for the Exposition Universelle of 1900 in Paris. It was there that Frederic Boucheron exhibited necklaces, coronets and tiaras detailing his skill as a craftsman. More than 100 years later, Boucheron remains a much sought after name by collectors of jewelry and worn by those with discerning taste.