Frédéric Boucheron supplied jewels to some of the 19th century’s most famous and infamous women. Frédéric Boucheron was born in 1830 and apprenticed at 14 years old to a friend of his fathers, Parisian jeweler Jules Chaise. He went on to work as a salesman for the fashionable jewelers Tixier-Deschamps. When Monsieur Deschamps retired Boucheron decided to set up on his own shop, despite Deschamps declaring him “not cut out to be the proprietor of a business”. Boucheron founded his business in the Galerie de Valois in the Palais Royal in 1858. Boucheron focused on quality of stones and quality of craftsmanship. To distinguish himself, he chose to deviate from the styles of the period and create imaginative and artistic pieces. His reputation grew steadily and he became known as an expert in precious stones, a master technician and a creator of beautiful jewelry. He set up his own workshop in 1866 and the following year exhibited at the Paris Exposition Universelle where he won his first gold medal for the innovative spirit of his jewels. In 1876 he even participated in the Centennial Fair in Philadelphia. Boucheron received a whole new client base, the American high society, many of whom were flush with newfound wealth and more than happy to spend it on fabulous French jewelry. One of his most extravagant clients was the wealthy American Marie-Louise Mackay, wife of John Mackay (who had become one of the richest men in the world thanks to silver mining) who spent vast sums building a truly impressive jewelry collection, much of which came from Boucheron. The sale of the French Crown Jewels in 1887 saw Frédéric Boucheron facing stiff competition in the bidding for certain lots. The only successful French buyer at the auction, he succeeded in purchasing 31 loose diamonds including a beautiful 6.28ct oval that he would keep and set into a ring for his wife Gabrielle. Frédéric gave his wife a snake necklace, before traveling overseas for work, trusting that this ancient symbol of love and protection would watch over her in his absence and keep her safe. In 1893, Boucheron outgrew the Palais Royal premises. Boucheron then moved into a beautiful new atelier on the Place Vendôme. He chose number 26, on the corner with the rue de la Paix, which he felt would get the most amount of sunshine (an ingenious move). In 1900 Boucheron was awarded the Légion d’Honneur for his jewelry displays at the Paris Exposition Universelle. This established him as one of the forerunners of the Art Nouveau style. In 1902, Frédéric Boucheron died leaving the Maison in the hands of his son Louis who lost no time in broadening the reach of Boucheron by opening a boutique in London. Then he opened in Moscow in 1898 which would later re-locate to St Petersburg in 1911. The early 20th Century bought custom commissions from European royalty and aristocracy. The most extraordinary commission ever received by the Maison came in 1928 when the Maharaja of Patiala arrived in the Place Vendôme accompanied by servants bearing six large boxes full of gemstones. These were delivered to Boucheron with the instruction to create 149 pieces of jewelry to be set with the thousands of rubies, diamonds and emeralds found within. Two years later Louis Boucheron was commissioned by the Shah of Iran to appraise the Imperial Treasure. In 1936 Louis’s two sons Fred and Gerard joined their father in the family business and in 1939 pushed to exhibit in the New York World Fair. They took over fully when Louis died in 1959. They even continued expansion with a new store opening in Japan in 1973. Gerard’s son Alain came into the business and worked with clients such as Princess Grace of Monaco before taking the reigns himself in 1980 after the retirement of both his uncle (in 1962) and his father. He remained at the head of the Maison Boucheron until 2000 when the company was sold to the Gucci Group.