There's nothing better than an inspiring artistic mashup, and here's one we don't see often: perfume inspired by gemstones.
After years of designing jewelry for bespoke clients and high-end brands, Parisian jeweler Ann Gérard branched her business into perfume. The result of her clear vision—and her choice of Bertrand Duchaufour as nose—is a line of perfumes beloved by scent fanatics and critics alike.
We spoke with Gérard about how she became inspired to create perfumes, her design aesthetic, and the creation of the unusual Rose Cut, a selection in the Olfactif That Which We Call A Rose collection.
Olfactif: How did you come to be a jeweler?
Ann Gérard: I always wanted to be a jeweler. When I was a small girl, my father used to bring me to the jeweler and buy me silver jewelry. It was not very expensive, but I had these souvenirs and they represented very important moments when I was a little girl. Also, my grandfather used to be a sculptor and he also made jewelry. So when I was a little girl, I used to visit him and go to his workshop and try to make my own jewelry. That’s why I think I always had it in my mind to be a jeweler.
O: How does one become a jeweler?
AG: I think there are many ways to become a jeweler, but I went to school. When I was 18, I left home and went to Belgium to learn how to make jewelry. After a few months I already knew that I didn’t want to make jewelry all day long but I wanted to create it, to design it.
O: How would you describe your design aesthetic?
AG: I would say it’s timeless. I don’t like to have two ideas in the same piece. I like one focus on each jewel. Timeless, to me, means the pieces won’t be trendy, they won’t be “out” in a few months. But you’ll still want to wear it even if you do like fashion and trends.
O: How did you first get interested in perfume?
AG: It’s the same story as the jewelry. When I was a schoolgirl, my parents used to bring me to the perfumery and when I was 12, I go to choose a perfume for myself. I always kept that passion for perfume. Then in 2010, I did a jewelry exhibition in a Parisian gallery and I asked my friend Bertrand Duchaufour to create the olfactive translation of the jewelry exhibition. He created Cuir de Nacre, the first perfume we did. I made a few bottles but there was no concept, no packaging, nothing. After the exhibition, I thought it was a pity to leave this perfume behind. I thought about launching this beautiful perfume on the market, but very quickly I understood that I couldn’t launch only one perfume.
O: You're lucky to know Bertrand if you want to create perfume because he’s one of the world’s masters.
AG: Yes, we’ve been friends for 15 years. The funny thing is that when we would meet for coffee or dinner, he always wanted to talk about jewelry and I always wanted to talk about perfumery ingredients.
O: What perfumes did you always love before creating your own?
AG: I used to wear the Aromatics Elixir for years and years. O de Lancome, Eau De Rochas, White Linen, Chanel No. 5, No 19, some from L’Artisan Parfumeur, others from Guerlain... Many brands. I also like men’s perfumes: Aramis, Habit Rouge, Bel Ami…
O: What is the common thread, for you, between jewelry and perfume?
AG: I’m interested in the skin, and I think perfume is an invisible jewel. When you wear a piece of jewelry or a perfume, it tells something from your own story.
O: When you created Rose Cut, what was your goal? We know that you created it with the rose cut style of diamond cutting in mind.
AG: I wanted to keep that name and do something with rose but I said to Bertrand, “I don’t want a girly rose. I don’t want something shy and pretty and clean. I want a nuclear bomb—something powerful but feminine.” And you can find those things in Rose Cut, femininity and power. You find those things in the rose cut diamond, as well. It’s a diamond, which is the hardest material on the earth, but the cut is a smooth, soft, shining cut.
O: The rose cut has been around for centuries and it’s not like a round brilliant diamond, which is meant to reflect so much light. This is a softer, glowing cut—soft and glowing like the perfume.
AG: Yes, it’s powerful but also powdery and round. There’s champagne and peony and all of these notes that make it very velvety.
O: The reaction of the perfume world has been extremely positive. That’s not an easy thing to accomplish with a rose perfume because there are so many great roses already.
AG: That’s what I said to someone in Paris. I was talking to the team at a perfume shop and they said, “When people come in and ask for rose, I propose Rose Cut and they are surprised.” I came out of the boutique and I thought, “They shouldn’t show Rose Cut for someone who wants to buy a simple rose. People who say they want to buy rose want to smell like just a rose—and everybody knows what that smells like. They should show Rose Cut to someone who wants to buy something extremely feminine, maybe oriental, maybe someone who loves a very long-lasting scent or someone who wants something very warm and sexy. So I went back to the shop and said, “Don’t talk about Rose Cut as a reference for rose.” It’s not a typical rose. But if you’re looking for an interpretation of a new rose in a boudoir atmosphere—powerful and feminine—this is it.
O: What are your plans for the future?
AG: I’m already working on the fifth perfume. I still have to work on it a lot. Time is a gift and I don’t want to go too fast, only on the pretext of launching a new one.
O: When you spend time around people in the perfume community, how does it affect your process?
AG: I like to share with others in the industry, yes. I’m very happy because the niche industry is full of very nice people. We all understand each other and most of us are friends. If someone has a problem, we try to think about how to help, and I think that’s very rare. It’s a little different in fashion and jewelry. I think that if you create something, you have to listen to people—some people you trust—and then you have to listen to your heart. I have intuition, and in the end, I like to listen to it.
Learn more about Rose Cut or order your full bottle.