Skip to content


Your cart is empty

Article: The History of Boucheron

The History of Boucheron

Boucheron is one of the oldest Parisian jewelry houses, known for its unique style and distinctive jewels.

Frédéric Boucheron was born in 1831 to a family of clothiers, but at a young age he broke with the family tradition and opened his own jewellery shop. Having grown up learning a great deal about the delicacy of materials, he applied the same suppleness he found in fabrics to gold and precious stones. In 1858, Boucheron opened his first boutique in Paris, the Galerie de Valois, under the arcades of the Palais Royal, then the epicentre of Parisian luxury. This boutique marked the beginning of a new legacy that continues to this day, almost two centuries later.

A 1980s Boucheron ad featuring the house's cat, Vladimir

A 1980s Boucheron advertisement featuring the house's cat, Vladimir. Image courtesy of Boucheron

He quickly became successful, and soon the whole of Paris was knocking on his door at the Palais Royal. In 1893, he opened his first jewellery store on Place Vendôme, showcasing savoir-vivre, savoir-faire and French elegance. With Boucheron's unique ability to grasp the trends of the times, he invented new ways to wear jewellery. Boucheron's success spread abroad, and its order books quickly began to include royal families and Hollywood's biggest stars.

Boucheron has long been known as a great sculptor of gold, prioritizing the working of gold in its most magnificent form in the hands of its craftsmen. In the Serpent Bohème collection, for example, the animal is represented symbolically, not figuratively, making the goldsmith's work even more important. To bring the material to life, the metal is pressed together with hammers and chasing tools, allowing the jewel to take on a life of its own. Boucheron Fuzzy Leopard Cat Earrings Emerald, Champagne White Diamonds, Pink Gold

Boucheron Fuzzy Leopard Cat Earrings Emerald, Champagne White Diamonds, Pink Gold

Whether it be the perfection of geometric designs or the pure lines of Art Deco, Boucheron has always demonstrated a passion for abstraction. A penchant for correct proportions, noble structures and sublime forms has influenced the artistic design and creation of Boucheron. The jewels that emerge from the Boucheron Atelier are always creative and daring.

When Frédéric Boucheron left the arcades of the Palais Royal to set up shop in Place Vendôme in 1893, he chose 26 Place Vendôme, between the new Opéra Garnier district and the Jardin des Tuileries. Designed by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, on the corner of the beautiful square and the Rue de la Paix, the inscription BOUCHERON was inscribed in delicate gold letters in capital letters, paving the way for Place Vendôme to become known today as the mecca of French jewelry.

Its first appearance at the Universal Exhibition was in 1867, where it won a gold medal, an important milestone that marked the beginning of a long career for Boucheron. At the Universal Exhibition in 1878, the jury was impressed by the originality of its creations, and the Maison Boucheron won the Grand Prix for a creation that included a sapphire necklace made for the wealthy American client Marie Louise MacKay. The necklace's center stone was a 159-carat sapphire.

In 1879, Frédéric Boucheron and his workshop director Paul Legrand invented a revolutionary necklace that was praised by the jury at the Universal Exhibition in 1889, when Boucheron was awarded the Grand Prix for outstanding jewelry collections. In 1900, Boucheron won a gold medal for its jewelry and the Grand Prix for outstanding innovation in jewelry. The Maison Boucheron won its last Grand Prix at the Colonial Exhibition in 1931.

Boucheron Collier Necklace

Boucheron Collier Necklace

Meanwhile, the Maison's shops continued to thrive, and the Chinese Salon expressed Boucheron's passion for distant and beautiful worlds. Its elegant dimensions and the bespoke mouldings on its wall panels made it a masterpiece of exceptional craftsmanship. Located at the heart of the boutique at 26 Place Vendôme, this mythical room, with its deep red "Martin varnish", exuded an air of secrecy and intimacy that made it highly sought after. The Salon featured two window displays, one of which contained a hidden door leading to a secret space for clients wanting privacy.

In the basement of 26 Place Vendôme lived Countess Castiglione, who shared the Hôtel de Nocé townhouse with Frédéric Boucheron. She was a great admirer of his work and soon became one of the Maison's most important ambassadors. She was also admired by Napoleon III. To preserve her beauty from the harsh light of the day, she would only leave her apartment in the evenings, adorned with jewels that shone brightly under the lights of Place Vendôme. Once home and alone, legend has it that she would spend hours gazing at her jewels, enchanted by their magical glow.

Another ambassador, albeit unofficial, was the Maison's mascot, Gérard Boucheron's cat, Vladimir, who was beloved at the Place Vendôme boutique. The feline was perfectly at home weaving his way through the displays of jewels and precious stones. Vladimir's presence in the private townhouse at 26 Place Vendôme made the house feel right at home. Considered a good luck cat, Vladimir was very affectionate and wanted to be fondled and stroked by customers.

Boucheron Illusion Ring

Boucheron Illusion Ring

Since its founding in 1858, Boucheron has experimented with different materials. Interested in fine gemstones and exotic materials, the brand incorporated lapis lazuli, coral, hematite, onyx, linen and snakewood into its collections. In the 1980s, rock crystal became one of the jeweller's favourite materials, chosen for its transparency with inclusions.

Nature has been an endless source of inspiration for the Maison. Over the years and throughout its collections, its diversity, aesthetic perfection and rich symbolism have inspired creations as varied as they are extraordinary. The Maison's unique vision of nature - the triumph of nature - has always influenced its jewellery.

And every year, Maison Boucheron expands its animal collection to the delight of lovers. A pioneer in its field, Boucheron strives to capture the positive forces of nature. More than just jewellery, its jewellery animals are talismans with protective powers. Whether real or mythical, each animal has a meaning and is therefore carefully named.

The peacock feather motif first appeared at Boucheron in 1866. The jeweler was seduced by the seductive power of its graphic structure and ethereal grace. More importantly, in 1883, while playing with a peacock feather, Frédéric Boucheron and his workshop director Paul Legrand came up with the idea for the famous "Point d'Arrogation" necklace. Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich Romanov immediately purchased it. Since then, new interpretations of this beautiful feather have regularly appeared in High Jewellery collections. This asymmetrical piece, a design unlike any other to date, was part of a collection that won a gold medal at the Universal Exhibition in 1889.

Boucheron emerald earrings

Boucheron emerald earrings

For nearly four decades, from 1860 onwards, the Russian Imperial family was an important clientele of Boucheron: Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna, Crown Princess Maria Alexandrovna, Tsar Alexander III and Grand Duke Alexei all visited Boucheron during their visits to Paris, and the name Boucheron became widely known at the Russian court.

It was for this reason that in 1897, Frédéric Boucheron opened his first shop abroad, in Moscow. Boucheron's fame also extends to the creation of the coat of arms of love. One of the most famous jewellery auctions in the world was held at the Louvre in 1887. The auction of jewellery for the French Royal Family was called the "Sale of the Century" at the time. Boucheron, the only Frenchman among the attendees of the world's leading jewellery dealers, won 31 diamonds, among which were the 18-carat and 16-carat Mazarin diamonds, as well as the most beautiful jewellery of Empress Eugénie. When the news of Boucheron's purchase spread, the whole of Paris wondered who had bought it. It turned out that Frédéric had bought it for himself, to give his wife Gabrielle a ring to promise her eternal love. Since then, Massion Boucheron has been the jewellery of love, and it is traditional that the most passionate men visit to choose their engagement ring.

Upon Frédéric Boucheron's death in 1902, his son Louis took over the management of the Maison. In 1948, after composing "Hymne a Love", Edith Piaf bought a Reflet watch from Maison Boucheron to bring her good luck at her first audition for the song. Following the song's great success, she came to consider a Reflet watch her talisman. Between 1949 and 1963, she was nicknamed "La Môme" (the child), and she acquired no less than 21 Reflet watches, one of which she gave to the love of her life, the boxer Marcel Cerdan.

In August 1928, the Maharaja of Patiala arrived at 26 Place Vendôme, accompanied by servants, carrying six chests loaded with precious stones, including 7,571 diamonds and 1,432 emeralds. Impressed by Boucheron's prestige and the Maison's special link with India, he commissioned an extraordinary jewellery consisting of thousands of diamonds, rubies and emeralds from his treasure, fashioned into 149 jewels. To this day, it remains Place Vendôme's most important and exclusive commission.

Jack de Boucheron Bracelet

Jack de Boucheron Bracelet

In 1930, Louis Boucheron was asked by the Shah of Iran to appraise the Iranian Empire's treasures. These world treasures contained the most magnificent precious stones and extraordinary objects he had ever seen: a solid gold throne entirely set with precious stones and 51 globes set with 336 stones. It took the new Boucheron several months to complete the appraisal, and the final estimate was kept secret forever. Louis Boucheron and his descendants became the official curators and guardians of the Iranian treasures in Tehran.

Another famous client, who appeared 102 times in the Maison's special order book between 1876 and 1902, was Marie-Louise MacKay, a wealthy American who made the most impressive order the Maison had ever known. To express her love, her husband, Frédéric Boucheron, asked him to secretly search for the finest sapphire to match the intense color of her deep blue eyes. He eventually chose a 159-carat blue sapphire from Kashmir and set it in a necklace. Frédéric Boucheron already understood that the beauty of gemstones and jewellery is, above all, a means to highlight and enhance a woman's radiance.

Its most famous collection is the mystical Serpent Bohème. Since its launch in 1968, the Serpent Bohème collection has become a Boucheron staple thanks to its enchanting design. It embodies the free spirit and creativity of the Maison. Now, 50 years after its launch, the Serpent Bohème is reimagined with coloured gemstones to complement the diamond-paved creations.

Incredibly, Boucheron's artisans have been working on the top floor of Place Vendôme since 1893. To enhance the brilliance of each stone, the Maison has mastered all existing setting techniques and developed its own unique techniques, such as the mosaic setting, mirror setting and airy setting, which magnify the stone and make it appear as if it is magically suspended in mid-air.

As an ambassador for the French jewellery industry, Maison Boucheron is committed to preserving and enhancing its know-how, skills and techniques. Known as a daring and visionary Maison, Boucheron values ​​innovation at every level, from raw materials to its boutiques, in order to take responsibility for its impact on the environment.

Boucheron "Thurillan" bracelet in diamonds, mother-of-pearl, pearl and white gold
Boucheron "Thurillan" bracelet in diamonds, mother-of-pearl, pearl and white gold

The RJC is a standard setting organization established to promote ethical, responsible, human rights, social and environmental practices throughout the diamond, gold and platinum metal jewellery supply chain.

Boucheron has been part of the Kering Group since 2000, which has developed the Gold Code, a framework for ethical gold sourcing common to all its brands. The Gold Code also defines a system for responsible gold purchasing, the Kering Ethical Gold Framework (KEGF). The KEGF advocates a responsible gold purchasing process based on a system of traceability, at a cost that each brand can afford. In 2014, Boucheron began sourcing gold through the Kering Responsible Gold Framework, sourcing gold that is entirely ethical, responsible and traceable. This includes gold from small-scale mines certified Fairmined, which respect working conditions, human rights and environmental standards. It also contributes to the social and economic development of the mining communities. The diamonds that Boucheron purchases are subject to the Kimberly Process, which sets out strict rules for trade between signatory countries and prohibits areas where diamond trade is a source of funding for guerrilla groups.

Other articles

What kind of brand is the jewellery brand "Boucheron"?

What kind of brand is Boucheron? When Frédéric Boucheron opened his first workshop in Paris in 1858, he was a jeweller, but he also enjoyed creating elaborate watches. Some of these watche...

Read more
ヴァン クリーフ&アーペル ブランドの歴史

Van Cleef & Arpels Brand History

Van Cleef & Arpels has long been renowned for its masterfully crafted and dreamy jewellery, from delicate flowers to playful animals and flowing ballerinas. The History of Van Cleef & ...

Read more