Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
The earrings Cate Blanchett wore to the 2014 Academy Awards, All images courtesy of World Red Eye
The opal drop earrings Cate Blanchett wore to this year's Oscars? Those were Chopard. The backwards necklace Jennifer Lawrence paired with her powder pink Dior gown last year? That was Chopard too. The white gold watch that peeked out of Matthew Mcconaughey's suit as he accepted his Oscar? Chopard strikes again.
From dazzling red carpet appearances to a long-standing partnership with the Cannes Film Festival (they are, after all, the official makers of the festival's Palme d'Or, the highest award a film can receive), Chopard is one of the film industry's most dazzling supporters. In fact, at least one Oscar winner from the past 11 years has been adorned in Chopard, which practically cements the brand into Hollywood history.
Recently, we had the opportunity to sit down and chat up Marc Hruschka, the CEO and President of Chopard U.S., at the opening of the Jade Signature sales center. The curious beings we are, we had to know everything about Chopard's long stint with the film industry. What are the most expensive jewels they've ever lent out? Have they ever gotten back a damaged piece? What happens to the jewelry after the awards? Well, you won't find the answers on this page, so jump through the link and read on.
So tell me a little bit about Chopard.
Chopard is a 153 year old family-owned business. It's owned by the Scheufele family now, who's owned it for 51 years. We're privately held, family-owned. There's no bank interest, no outside private equity interest. It's just the Scheufele's that are making the decisions for the brand globally and domestically. I've been very fortunate enough to be here about eight and a half years as a direct conduit of their message, initiatives, ideas in the U.S. We specialize in design and quality in the company as it relates to jewelry and watches. Karl Frederick and Caroline Sheufele are brother and sister and co-presidents. It's really ying and yang for a brand to have a masculine component and a feminine component that's real in a company. There's a lot of companies that will take a male watch and downsize it and call it a female watch. We're very very different from that. There are different design aesthetics happening on both sides of the family, if you will.
How did you become involved working with the film industry?
It started at the Cannes Film Festival. Caroline Scheufele is truly passionate about film as an art form. We make the Palme d'Or [the highest prize at Cannes] and that started 17 years ago, long before everybody was talking about Cannes. That translated into relationships with actors, actresses, stylists, people from the industry and to the Oscars. All of that has been put together, if you will, internationally: The Cannes Film Festival, The Oscars, The Venice Film Festival. We're very involved at many different levels. A lot of it is charitable too so it's a great way for us to promote our brand while giving something back to the film industry and giving a voice to [an organization like], for example, the Elton John Aids foundation. That is something that we're a part of at the Oscars. I think we've raised over $3.5 million for the treatment and research for the aids virus, so it's not just about the celebrity and the sale.
The earrings Jennifer Lawrence wore to the 2013 Academy Awards.
Out of all the celebrities you've ever lent your pieces to, who has been your favorite?
You can't ask me this.
Come on, there has to be one.
My favorite is the most, well... Cate Blanchett, who wore our earrings at the Golden Globes.
I loved those. Even on TV they were amazing.
The earrings are unbelievable, right? In fact, it's one of the most overwhelming responses we've ever had and I would say that it's 50 percent the earrings and 50 percent Cate Blanchett. But we all know how spectacular she is so I'm being really generous to Chopard here. And then we had the same sort of overlonging response for the earrings she wore at the Oscars. Both different but both part of our Green Carpet collection which is really focused on sustainable materials as it relates to the ethical mining of gem stones.
Green mining? How does that work?
So when people say sustainable, that means when I'm using a piece of wood for this furniture I planted a tree to replace it. It's different with gem stones and precious metals because I can't plant a diamond. I can't plant a piece of gold. What that means in the gemstone world is that we are part of the ethical collaboration with the mining companies to ensure the earth itself is treated fairly and the people who work there are treated fairly and are restricted in terms of hazards and health issues. There's a lot of components to that. Extracting metal from the ground, extracting gold from the ground is not like you see in movies like the old west, and we're all sitting around a river together panning for gold.
It's not like that any more?
Nice [Laughs]. You know they've got these gigantic, hydro methods of extracting stone and earth either at the surface or below the surface and it's all taken in and broken apart. The difference there is that there's ways to do it that don't damage the environment... it's not the least expensive way to produce a beautiful piece of jewelry but it's the most ethical.
The necklace Marion Cotillard wore to the 2008 Academy Awards.
Tracking back to Hollywood, what is the most expensive piece that someone on the Red Carpet has ever worn?
I'll probably get in trouble for saying this, but I would say that, with the right security measures in place, probably $15 to $18 million dollars, retail price. It was a suite: a necklace, earrings and a bracelet.
Do you have any horror stories, like lost or damaged pieces?
There are people who are more careful and respectful of the merchandise and people who are less careful and respectful of the merchandise. We have certainly had our fair share of people who are disrespectful with the merchandise. Fortunately we have a really, really strong team that follows all of our procedures and a great security team that follows those procedures as well. In those cases we have been able to recover [the pieces] and have no issues.
So is it standard for a security guard to accompany each piece you lend out? In that case I guess you'd get two accessories instead of one.
Nice! Sometimes it's two and two, right? You know, it really depends on the value. It's occasion driven so it's not just the Oscars; it's the Golden Globes, the SAG awards, whatever it happens to be. It depends on how tightly controlled we can make that event for us personally or not.
Is there any one celebrity that you want to dress that you haven't yet?
I don't handle that personally and I'm very lucky because it's very difficult. The Oscars for us doesn't start the day before the Oscars; it starts three months before the Oscars. We work with the stylists and their teams and the celebrities teams to make sure that, first we're part of the conversation if there is a conversation, and second for them to know as we go through the process that we're very willing to assist. But, you're asking me something really personal, so I'm not going to answer that actually. Maybe later I'll answer that. I have to think about it.
The earrings Charlize Theron wore to the 2005 Academy Awards.
Have you ever rejected giving a piece to someone?
Does it happen often?
A lot of it has to do with our insurance companies and the guidelines they set. They understand our world and they understand what our opportunities and limitations are, but there's criteria which we have to respect. And then there's the criteria we set for ourselves, so there are definitely occasions where we think something may not have good security, or brand-wise it's not the right thing to do. So we have either said we can't take advantage of that opportunity or we can't partner with somebody or we have to limit it. Usually it's just about limiting the exposure.
And what usually comes first, the diamonds or the dress?
Man, that is such a great question. I will tell you this... At the end of the day the dress is the canvas and we get it. We understand that the dress comes first. The accessories- handbags, shoes, jewelry- that's second. Get it, understand it. As long as they're trying to put a look together.
What do you do with your iconic pieces, like Cate Blanchett's earrings, after they've been worn?
I have to say that the response from what Cate wore for the Golden Globes and The Oscars [is great]. I think it's because of who she is and because of the merchandise itself, the symmetry of their relationship and how unbelievable she looked at both the Golden Globes and The Oscars. The answer is that we're just trying to keep up with the orders.
So people usually order the pieces after?
I will tell you that, in this case, the response is truly significant.
Do watches usually get lent out or do the male and female artists actually buy them?
It depends. Watches, men [buy] mostly. It depends on the woman. It depends on what they want, it depends on how they're dressing, it depends on the ceremony. I would say for men it's 99 percent of the time and for women it's 50/50.
The earrings Hillary Swank wore to the 2005 Academy Awards.
And for the fire round, we're going to build your perfect watch.
Hours and minutes or Grand Complications?
Grand Complications. Yes I want an all in one.
White gold or rose gold?
White gold. Ah, actually hold on a second. With an all in one? Rose gold.
Rose gold band or leather band?