Entering rue de la Paix from place de l’Opera walking toward the Tuileries and the Royal Palace (the Louvre) in Paris, the immediate and foremost imposing sight is that of Napoleon’s Roman Empire style victory column – as if ‘le petit corporal’ had been Hadrian, Aurelius, or Trajan himself – yet somehow the grand green artifact doesn’t look out of place, or out of style, and the first thing that comes to mind is why the giant imperial piece of bronze was never smashed and broken into pieces during the French Revolution at the time of the fall of the ‘ancien régime’ when everything royal in Paris was looted, burned, and torn down. But then all of a sudden you realize that Napoleon the first came AFTER the French Revolution and not before, so that history still seems to be in good order, until you discover that in 1871 during the uprising of the Paris Commune the giant artifact was brought down anyway, only to be rebuild some years later when the latest popular revolt had passed.
And thus the whims and capricious fires of history play tricks on the mind in the very same fashion as light is refracted through superior crafted high jewelry into different directions – you never know when or where it will hit the eye – as you are now entering the inner sanctum of the world’s high jewelry makers, a grand plaza made to order in classic design by Sun King Louis the XIV in 1699 –, which today houses the beating heart of the world’s foremost artisans when it comes to gemstones and beauty: The Place Vendôme (*).
Whereas a well-polished mirrors made of Venetian glass or simple ‘bijouteri’ (the French language notably makes a distinction between ‘bijouterie’ (low jewelry) and ‘joaillerie’ (high jewelry), a class distinction not found in the English language) may offer you a nice and direct REFLECTION – often commonly called BLING today, only hand-crafted time-honored, and artisan traditional high jewelry accessories and time-pieces will be able to offer you multi-faceted and multi-colored REFRACTION, the stuff with the ability to create dreams and lasting legend, not in the mold of the vain desire of the bourgeoisie to impress others and to be seen, but rather invoking the brutality and certainty of kings and queens and other notables of yore, so as to confuse, to humble, to radiate, and to shine.
Here are found precious items made and crafted, not so that you buy yourself the ability to reflect well upon other peoples values or that you may be accepted into their society, but rather to give you the immediate assurance that wherever you go or that wherever you are that the immeasurable & mysterious refractions of your high jewelry or time-piece will render most societal invitations meaningless and obsolete because of the following simple, yet hard to grasp, paradigm: that ‘de se faire desirer’ (to make yourself an object of desire) is always going to be an art and a craft, and not just the adoption of a style or way of life through the purchase of an accessory.
Or as John Keats (Endymion) puts it: “A thing of beauty, is a joy forever …”
The Man’s Watch as Jewel
Thus it is a great honor indeed for BDMOTP to be able to present to you the unique & timeless hand-crafted time pieces of Mellerio dits Meller, the oldest and very first grand house of high jewelry off the Place Vendome(*), to be found on 9 Rue de la Paix in Paris since 1815.
Timeless, because since 1993 Mellerio has been making man’s watches according to a special patent which exclusively allows the house to create time-pieces in the one shape otherwise only found in nature: the oval shape of the egg (not every oval form is egg-shaped). Aptly called “La Neuf” (the ‘new one’ (novum) but with a double-take on the shape for the word for egg in French: ‘L’oeuf’ (ovum)) the collection as a result of its inimitable forms boasts a CONVEX piece of sapphire glass set into a CONCAVE dial, which actually renders the watch a little ovoid (the oval egg shape in the third dimension).
And unique, because in real high jewelry, not a single piece of work will ever be reproduced or be made to order in the same way as another. All is craftsmanship and all is art so that personalization no longer is necessary – there will only be ONE item in this world to wear and it is yours –, and it will have to be commissioned: An egg-shaped piece of high jewelry for the ages over which posterity, in interesting stories yet untold, may fight some pitched battles so as to restore its ancient value to a future distant heir or, perhaps, to recreate a precious pedigree over the faded memories of some distant future’s illustrious forebear.
Each unique item (both accessories and time-pieces) can be ordered to beauty and crafted to precision according to the 400 year old Mellerio family tradition. Yellow, white, or pink gold is used and a single order can take from two to four months. Watch movement for La Grande Neuf is automatic and mechanically Swiss made. This watch is a private commission for a time-piece as a jewel.
But here the search for perfection does not stop with a precious watch. Not with a house which ranks as the oldest high jeweler in the world – given its first royal jewelry-making privileges by Marie de’ Medici in 1613 – and who counts the LAST queen of France, Marie-Antoinette, as their FIRST in a long and uninterrupted list of royal clients until today.
Mellerio may very well be the only house on the planet with the ability, the tradition, and the savoir-faire to be able to lift the art of high jewelry making to the point of perfection where it includes the exclusive creation of one of nature’s favorite shapes: The oval egg-shape and the ovoid. For this is the ONE house of high jewelry with its very own cut for diamonds (the Mellerio cut, see picture below) because the general technicalities of creating the egg-shape in gem stones are so difficult to master.
And so Mellerio has the capacity and the sole right according to patent to also create and craft ‘Neuf’ cufflinks – oval shaped ‘boutons de manchettes’ – set in yellow, white, or pink gold. Once the shape a given, these cufflinks can come in the colors of elements that one would expect to find in treasure proffered after by mistake you have rubbed an old lamp found in your grandmother’s attic only for a genie to appear granting you an unexpected wish (your FIRST wish): turquoise, opal, lapis-lazuli, jade, amber, malachite, and aye, including but not limited to, hmm, dinosaur bone. A kaleidoscope of colors captured in one single and ubiquitous shape, a form of nature, a stand-out collection fit for a prince, or if you wish (your SECOND wish), to be commissioned as an actual ovoid made of solid white gold (see picture below).
In search of perfection
Indeed it is precisely this timeless loyalty of high hand-crafted jewelry that gives such creations for men their ultimate value: Because it is as close as one can come to perfection in shape, form, color, and time, these items will survive you and they will carry with them precious memories from the past for generations to come, each memory made precious to perfection, not for the sake of BLING in the reflections of a smooth mirror-image surface – so that others who are curious about your past will be able to interpret things and see you and remember you for the way you used to be, but rather like a bright amber burning fire gently refracting different colors in myriad of different directions of a dark room, causing different shapes, shades, and forms – those mysterious and unknown projections of Ali Baba’s cave of which we dream when we are still children – and emanating from the simple shape of an egg.
This begs for powerful men an old but dangerous question: If only man would be able to create, or wear, ONE object so perfect that it is worth dying for, what would it be? Be careful what you ask for, because the THIRD wish is known to be the tricky one…
(*) on and around Place Vendôme the following jewelers can be found (this is not an exhaustive list), but only few of les grandes maisons de haute joaillerie listed below create all jewelry on commission where each piece crafted is unique or singularly made to order (Mellerio is one).
Boucheron (house 1893, Place Vendôme 1893)
Buccellati (house 1919, Place Vendôme 1979)
Bulgari (house 1884, Place Vendôme 1996)
Chanel Joaillerie (house 1932, Place Vendôme 1997)
Cartier (house 1847, Place Vendôme 1899)
Chaumet (house 1780, Place Vendôme 1902)
De Beers (house 2001, Place Vendôme 2008)
Dior Joaillerie (house 1998, Place Vendôme 2001)
Louis Vuitton Joaillerie (house 2009, Place Vendôme 2012)
Mauboussin (house 1827, Place Vendôme 1955)
Mellerio dits Meller (house 1613, Place Vendôme 1815)
Piaget (house 1874, Place Vendôme 1992)
Repossi (house 1920, Place Vendôme 1985)
Tiffany (1837 house, Place Vendôme 1999)
Van Cleef & Arpels (house 1906, Place Vendôme 1906)
Posted by Sandro Joo.