Chopard loves cinema, and they put their craftsmanship where their heart is.
Since 1998, the Cannes Film Festival, the crown jewel of the world’s motion picture fests, has been linked in official partnership with Chopard, manufacturer of the world’s crown jewels — a partnership that extends to two highlights on the festival’s official calendar: the coveted Trophée Chopard and the climactic Palme d’Or.
The Geneva-based watch and jewelry Maison has long been a mainstay on the Croisette with much of its magnificent jewelry adorning film artists across decades of red carpets. (In fact, the company is rolling out 74 original creations as part of this year’s Red Carpet Collection.)
Yet there’s much more to Chopard’s participation in Cannes in particular, and world cinema in general. Year after year, the Maison manufactures the trophies awarded to the winners in competition, including the stunning and prestigious Palme d’Or, which annually entails over 40 hours of labor by five company artisans in their workshops.
Now in its twentieth year, what was once Chopard’s new and singular contribution to filmmaking remains a cherished means of recognizing acting talent on the rise. A jury consisting of a blue-ribbon panel of journalists and artists annually chooses a young male and a young female “Revelation of the Year” to receive the Trophée Chopard, an honorific designed to spotlight and encourage the stars of tomorrow.
According to Caroline Scheufele, Chopard’s co-president and artistic director, the Chopard-Cannes relationship dates back to 1997, when she met Pierre Viot — then-president of the festival — and proposed a new look for the prize. “I was having a good look at the Palme d’Or displayed in his office, and I asked if I could take it with me to my office in Geneva to think about a new design,” she says. “What a fantastic challenge!”
That objet d’art, first unveiled in 1998, features 118 grams of 18-karat yellow gold leaves, resting on a rock crystal cushion in the form of an emerald-cut diamond. In reflection of the family-owned company’s ongoing commitment to what it calls “The Journey to Sustainable Luxury,” all the gold in the Palme d’Or is Fairmined-certified ethical.
The result is truly one of a kind, suitable for what is arguably one of the world’s most important cinema prizes.
“The inclusions within the natural material of the gemstone make each rock crystal unique,” explains Scheufele.
The awardees of the Trophée Chopard are also one of a kind, an acknowledgment of rising artists on their way to the top of their profession.
“Our idea was to reward young talents and give them a kick-start,” says Scheufele, and since its first edition in 2001, that goal has been achieved many times over. Past honorees — including Léa Seydoux, Archie Panjabi, Gael García Bernal, George MacKay, Anya Taylor-Joy, John Boyega and Elizabeth Debicki, to name only a few — have gone on to win, or be nominated for, a vast array of international film and television awards.
Lending even more gravitas to the official presentation event is the established star of stage, screen or television who serves as that year’s Trophée “godmother.” In 2019, for instance, France’s François Civil and Britain’s Florence Pugh were thrilled to receive their recognition from China’s Zhang Ziyi.
Actors Gong Li, Helen Mirren, Juliette Binoche and Charlize Theron have brought their grace and glamour to the Trophée podium, not to mention a handful of “godfathers” over the years: Elton John, Colin Firth, Robert De Niro and Sean Penn among them. To date, two past Trophée awardees have gone on to pass on the accolade to others: Marion Cotillard and Diane Kruger.
The year 2017 marked the 70th anniversary of the festival, coincident with the 20th anniversary of its association with Chopard. To commemorate both events, the Maison added an extra-special string of diamonds to the Palme d’Or (awarded that year to Sweden’s “The Square”).
The Trophée Chopard is surely among the Maison’s proudest contribution to the annual event. One past “godmother,” addressing that year’s laureates, could have been speaking for Chopard to its honorees of every year: “When you see a good actor, you can see it right away,” she noted. “We’re so happy to have you. We’re excited to see your work. And we know we’re going to see your work for many years to come.”
Notwithstanding the hiatus caused by the 2020 pandemic, the festival and Chopard seem 100% back on track and confident for the future.