ARTICLE JOANNA RODGER
STYLIST MICHAEL GLEESON
YVES PIAGET COMBINES HIS TWO LIFE PASSIONS—JEWELRY AND ROSES—TO CREATE BOTANICAL-INSPIRED BEAUTY WORTHY OF ROYAL ACCLAIM
Yves Piaget, fourth generation heir and president of his family’s venerable watch and jewelry company, is a sure-footed businessman who has devoted himself to running the enterprise founded by his great-grandfather in 1874 in the Jura Mountains of Switzerland. In doing so, he has embraced the mantra coined by his forebearer, “Always do better than necessary.” But outside of business, Piaget’s primary passion is roses. “For me,” explains the flower enthusiast, “[the rose] brings to mind childhood and my first love for the wild roses called Sweetbriars, which thrive at 1,100 meters. It was [later in life] that I discovered nursery roses.” A cultivated jet-setter, Piaget’s involvement in prestigious international rose federations and competitions has culminated in the ultimate honor for a rose-lover: the christening of an award-winning new variety with his own name. The Yves Piaget rose was born in 1982; for its namesake, the moment was emotional: “On that day, I was the same color as my rose.”
Thirty years later, the commendation still resonates—enough so that Piaget is celebrating the anniversary with a special Rose Collection. Offerings run the gamut from simple pink gold ear studs to pitch-perfect cocktail pieces (like the lacework pavé cuff) to extravagant red-carpet fare, including the lavish “secret” bracelet watch (set with 668 diamonds), all featuring a stylized version of the house rose. Each piece is conceived and sketched by Piaget’s jewelry design team, led by the company’s charmingly unassuming creative director, Jean-Bernard Forot. The plans then pass to a crack team of master technicians, gemologists, and artisans who engineer, handcraft, and assemble every minute detail of the collection at the company’s neatly innovative facility, a combination corporate office and manufacturing workshop just outside of Geneva. The process from conception to finished product is formidable, with one complicated piece taking up to two months to complete. The outcome is exquisite, the jewels a worthy salute to the Yves Piaget rose.
Besides the commemorative jewelry collection, Piaget will celebrate the pearl anniversary of his namesake bloom through patronage. Mr. Piaget was recently connected through botany world friends to the head gardener at the Château de Malmaison—the 18th-century country home of Napoléon and Josephine Bonaparte, now a national museum in need of funding for an ambitious garden restoration. The project was a perfect match for Piaget, who had been searching for a philanthropic way to honor the rose. Underwritten by the watch and jewelry maker, Empress Josephine’s famous rose garden will be faithfully renewed to its former glory with the 250 antique varieties originally cultivated by her majesty’s botanists. The chateau grounds will also feature a separate rose garden filled with (you guessed it) Yves Piaget roses, a greenhouse, and an orangery bursting with exotic specimens that Josephine imported and adapted to the climate back in the day—namely pineapple, olive, and citrus trees, Buddha’s hand, magnolias, and guava plants. All told, the renovation will take two years to complete; the official opening is scheduled for 2014, the bicentennial of the Empress’s death.
Still life photography Spencer Higgins Photo assistant Tomo Hatano