Replica watches: Guillaume Chautru, the head of Piaget’s gemology department, is constantly on the lookout for rare stones to adorn the brand’s jewelry. Getting the rare gems that customers want from a non-renewable supply is just one of the challenges of his job, and all in a day’s work for this former snake farmer.
For a long time, Guillaume Chautru worked away from the spotlight…not unusual for someone whose job is to source gemstones for a major jewelry store. Before taking over as head of Piaget’s gemology department six years ago, his previous position was at Cartier. And long before that he was a snake breeder. Reptiles remain one of his passions, along with scuba diving and color-changing gems.
I met Guillaume Chautru during Watch & Wonders in Geneva last April. One of the cabinets contained a stunning necklace, designed to be worn in nine different ways, set with a yellow diamond and magnificent spinel. Only in recent years have spinels started to interest collectors, raising prices significantly. Both stones have a story that Guillaume Chautru was very happy to share.
In July, Piaget perfect replica watches presented its Solstice fine jewelry collection. Each piece is set with a magnificent center stone, including a 15.02-carat Sri Lankan sapphire amidst an eruption of diamonds, a 9.10-carat Zambian emerald set in a lace-like necklace, and a 16-carat Madagascar pink sapphire. 6.06 carats surrounded by diamonds. All these stones were obtained by Guillaume Chautru.
Replica Watches: Would it be correct to say that you are a treasure hunter?
Guillaume Chautru: You could say that. I’m looking for rare stones. All the more rare because there is a lot of competition for a non-renewable supply. At the same time, the demand for the highest quality stones is increasing. Clients no longer accept inclusions in colored stones, for example. This means that we have to cut out about 90 percent of all the stones we find.
A gemstone broker told us that only 2 to 3 percent of stones are investment grade. Do you agree?
Yes, and probably less than that when you factor in liquidity, something not everyone has. A large stone is very difficult to sell.
“Not everyone takes liquidity into account when considering stones as an investment. A big stone is hard to sell.”
When looking for center stones for Piaget Replica watches jewelry, are you looking primarily for investment stones?
Our Trésor range consists solely of so-called investment stones, but this is not our main motivation. We look for the most beautiful stones possible in terms of color and clarity, with the best possible cut. Our quality criteria are so high that any stone we buy automatically becomes an investment stone.
What job did you want to do when you were little?
I don’t remember, but my first job was raising snakes. I started when I was fifteen years old and continued for almost ten years. And i used to select the male and female specifically so that they would produce very colorful young. My three passions in life are diving, I love swimming among corals and fish, reptiles and gems. And color is the only thing they have in common. So you could say that I am passionate about color.
Guillaume Chautru’s passion for reptiles, the underwater world and color-changing gems have color as a common denominator.
Does this influence the stones you select?
Yes, although I choose the stones not for my taste but because they correspond to the identity of the brand that employs me. Fortunately, Piaget Replica watches is known for its colorful and quirky designs.
Does he ever shop for you?
I used to, a lot, when I was self-employed, but always as gifts. I cut them out and gave them away.
How do I go from snakes to gemology?
I used to go looking for snakes in places, mainly in Southeast Asia, where there were mines. I met many of the people who work at these mines and they introduced me to the business. And i spent time with stonecutters in Sri Lanka and Burma, and was keen to teach myself. Later I studied gemology and learned how to cut stones. I also taught. So it’s really thanks to the people that I got involved with the stones.
“I used to go looking for snakes in places, mainly in Southeast Asia, where there were mines. I met a lot of the people who work at these mines and they introduced me to the business.”
Any favorite stone?
I have a weakness for pink sapphires, which are the most powerful stones I know of. Padparadscha for tone mixing and also color change sapphires.
The yellow diamond center stone of the necklace on display at Watches & Wonders is truly beautiful. There is also an unusual colored spinel. What is the story behind them?
When creating a set consisting of a necklace, ring, and earrings, I start with the center stone for the necklace. We start with the most complicated stone [to the source] so that later we can be sure to match the other stones to it. I found a yellow diamond just over 9 carats, but it did not meet my criteria due to a small pavilion inclusion. However, once I calculated the angles to clip it and increase its color density, I realized that would remove the inclusion. Piaget Swiss Fake Watches and the Richemont group trusted my judgment, even though I had to convince certain cutters who thought it was fine the way it was. We were able to transform a 9.05 carat diamond into an elegant 8.88 carat vivid yellow internally flawless. By reducing a half carat and removing the inclusion, we add 30 percent to its value!
What about the spinel?
Piaget Replica watches only works with one type of spinel from Tanzania, from a small mine that produced stones for a single week twenty years ago. The last word in quality! They are easily recognizable: the glass is extremely clean and of a very fine red colour. Getting them means first finding out who had the brutes when they were mined, then seeing who owns them today and if they want to sell them. Most of the time these are rough stones, which is an advantage for us as we can cut them to our specifications. Every spinel Piaget buys comes from that mine, which is why we have so few.
”Piaget Replica watches only works with one type of spinel from Tanzania, from a small mine that produced stones for a single week, twenty years ago. The last word in quality!”
Why do you think spinel is such an underappreciated stone? After all, there is a spinel mounted on the British Imperial State Crown, despite being known as the Black Prince’s Ruby.
It’s a matter of time. Spinel is a noble material with a hardness of 8, so it is hard enough to be used in jewelry [diamond has a hardness of 10, sapphire and ruby 9, emerald between 7.5 and 8]. Spinel is magnesium oxide while ruby is aluminum oxide. Its refractive index is close to that of ruby. The Black Prince spinel was long thought to be a ruby because both stones are found in the same deposits and share similar physical and chemical properties. Spinels have increased in value as customers have become more familiar with them and have learned to appreciate this stone. Prices have skyrocketed in the last ten years.
What is first, the drawing or the stone?
About 80 percent of the collections are designed around stones. This allows us to put out new parts at a fairly constant rate. Once we have obtained the stones, we have done the hard part.
Tell us about your best discovery.
A 16 karat emerald with very little oil that was full of inclusions, which I trimmed last year. When I bought it, my team was convinced that I must have had too much to drink (laughs). The beautiful glass inside was certainly not easy to see. It was trimmed seven times over three years and went from a 16 carat to a 9 carat emerald with no oil or inclusions. Now it’s worth five times what I paid for it. I’m lucky Piaget Replica watches let me do my job, considering the time he took and the risks involved: emerald breaks easily. But it was certainly worth it. For the end customer, this is a fabulous opportunity. In fact, it is in the process of being sold. In the future, it will be impossible to fully satisfy a customer who has very demanding criteria without making significant cuts.
“The 16 carat emerald I cut last year is now a 9 carat emerald with no oil or inclusions. It’s worth five times what I paid for it.”
How did you discover the pure stone among all those inclusions?
I always work with a lamp and inspect the stone along very specific axes. The problem with emeralds is that the inclusions are in three directions, which must be taken into account when envisioning the stone being carved. It’s a slow process and it all comes down to experience. As we say in the business, “I’ve eaten a lot of brutes” in my life. In your line of business, there is always the risk of making a mistake. Has that ever happened?
When I was teaching, I always told my students that it takes ten years to make a name for yourself as an expert and ten seconds to lose it. A few years ago I was looking for stones in Chanthaburi, in the south of Thailand. It was the end of the day and nothing really worthwhile had come up when I was suddenly handed a bag full of purple spinels, all of mediocre quality. I didn’t have any color change spinels in my collection so I thought why not see if there is one? I inspected each stone in the bag using a special lamp and found a 5 carat spinel with the most magnificent color change.
The man wanted to sell the whole bag but I was only interested in that stone. In the end he agreed. Back home I showed it to a friend who complimented me on “an amazing Burmese sapphire”. He was convinced that he had bought a spinel, but when I looked at it through my binoculars, I saw that it was indeed a sapphire. What fooled me were the octahedral inclusions, which are characteristic of spinels, but Burmese and occasionally Sri Lankan sapphires can also have them. And that’s how I came to pay $50 for a gorgeous 5-carat color-changing Burmese sapphire. It’s not a bad mistake to make!
What about your biggest disappointment? A stone that you couldn’t buy, for example?
I remember a 9-carat pear-shaped ruby. It’s not something you see every day. It was an elongated shape and he wanted to cut it into a shorter 8.88 carat stone, which would have cost a lot to do. The marketing department said no. The person who bought it turned it into the most amazing stone and now it’s worth twice what it cost.
Why 8.88 carats?
Because eight is a lucky number in Asia. Whenever I’m cutting a stone and I get closer to 8.88 carats, I always try to hit the mark, as this will give the client an extra reason to buy. I tell myself that it will be lucky for me too. In the Piaget replica boutique in Macau there are 7.77-carat diamonds for customers who want to try their luck in the casino.
If you could have any stone, what would it be?
I’m crazy about color changing garnets. There is a mine in Bekily, in the south of Madagascar, which is the only one in the world that has produced blue garnets [in the 1990s]. This is a very masculine stone that turns from a deep Kashmiri blue to almost the same red as a Burmese ruby. The mine no longer produces them. It is my dream to one day find one.
“There is a mine in the south of Madagascar that is the only one that has produced blue garnets. It is my dream to one day find one.”