LUXURYCULTURE.COM - Collect Call: Vertu's Boucheron Bauble


Boucheron and Vertu team up to take mobile communication to the ultimate luxury level.

In making a masterpiece of jewelry and communication, Vertu and Boucheron have created an instant must-have for covetous collectors.

Add another string to Boucheron's bountiful bow – mobile phone technology. Having the newest, most up-to-date cell phone suddenly seems like old hat. When Vertu, the world's premier maker of luxury cell phones that ally traditional craftsmanship with the technological world, teamed up with the French jewelry house of Boucheron the intention was clear – to create a working cell phone of incomparable luxury and decorative beauty.

The leitmotif of the Parisian jewelry house founded by Frédéric Boucheron in 1858, a signature snake, slithers seductively around each 18-carat rose gold phone. But this is no ordinary snake and these are no ordinary phones.

"It's difficult to say who made the first step now because it has truly been a meeting of minds," notes Alberto Torres, CEO of Vertu, of the partnership with Boucheron. "Through our passion for design and perfection we both instinctively understood the strength of each company, making a collaboration almost a foregone conclusion. The Vertu Signature collection already combines precious metals and jewelry so we already had an exceptional level of understanding to combine with Boucheron's undisputed status as master jewelers," he adds. Correspondingly, for forward-looking Boucheron, "Vertu appeared as a perfect and obvious partner."

The making of a Vertu Signature phone requires the input of master craftsmen who take three years to train in the specialized construction of this laboriously hand-realized technological marvel with its precious metal bezel and sapphire crystal screen. Add to that the fact that this is the first time the maker of such a high-quality technology product has collaborated with a jeweler of such note and capability, each party pooling its rare talents, and the results, unsurprisingly, speak for themselves.

While the result might look flawless, the creative road was a learning curve with many obstacles along the way. "Creating these unique pieces has required the combination of both companies' skills to address the difficult engineering and design challenges of creating a piece of such extraordinary beauty and performance," Torres says. "The harmonization of our two dissimilar processes have required long work," adds a Boucheron spokesperson. "To avoid interferences between the jewelry metal and the telephonic technology, for instance, has been a real struggle."

This, however, isn't the French jeweler's first time in taking another company's creativity on board. "Over the last decades, Boucheron has always come up with daring creations outpacing the jewelry and watches area," a Boucheron spokesperson said. "Following this tradition, we've just collaborated with Alexander McQueen to create a limited edition of bags together. Today, we're announcing our collaboration with Vertu – tomorrow may bring other surprises!"

In fact two styles of cell phone will be made, both in strictly limited editions – but, as is the case with extreme exclusivity, one is more strictly limited than the other. The more exclusive piece is the Signature Cobra, the ultimate in luxurious technology. Its gold keys are inset with a spine of twinkling rubies, with 439 of these same stones smothering the emerald-eyed serpent in 21 carats as it winds its way past a one-carat round diamond before resting its head on a two-carat, pear-cut white sparkler.

Slightly less exclusive – if exclusivity in this rarified case can be deemed a relative factor – is the Signature Python which runs to a maximum of 26 pieces, a number that honors the house's pioneering store at 26 place Vendôme in Paris. That phone features a traditional gold keypad and a blue sapphire-eyed snake whose body's brilliance is created through 17 carats of sumptuously-shaded sapphires dashed with a sprinkling of white diamonds.

Of course, diamonds, rubies and sapphires are one thing, but investment return is another. "We also understand each other's customers, their likes and dislikes – and this also made it easier when designing these beautiful handsets," Torres said.

"In the world of telecommunications, there is only one true luxury brand: Vertu," says Boucheron CEO Jean-Christophe Bédos. "This is a tribute from one of the greatest jewelers of all times to the only true luxury handset of modern times." Describing the attractive uniqueness of the collaboration Torres commented that, "Here we have combined functionality and exquisite jewelry to a level of style unprecedented in the world today. The luxury client is always seeking innovation in luxury, style and form. I'm sure that if you live and love the luxury lifestyle then these designs will suit you perfectly."

Covetable and status symbols though the phones may be, they're also equipped with Vertu's famous concierge service, included in the price: at the touch of a button, day or night, anywhere in the world, your every worry, from getting a late reservation at an apparently full famous restaurant to securing that last ticket on the final flight out of town, is sorted with ease and with speed.

The concierge service is a tiered structure: those in the upper echelon – and that is guaranteed with a purchase of a Boucheron for Vertu phone – are given a specific personal concierge correspondent of their own, so a level of trust and shared knowledge is built up over time, providing the client with a friendly and recognizable voice at the end of the line and allowing Vertu to provide an even more superior and specially tailored service. It's unsurprising then that Boucheron can boast that, "The majority of these handsets have been pre-sold already. They are bought by Boucheron and Vertu clients who seek the ultimate in everything they own." "The final handpieces are so unique that they are a delight to behold to collectors and non-collectors alike," Torres said. "You know, there are only eight Signature Cobra and 26 Signature Python models available in the world – this enhances their desirability considerably."

Furthering the frontiers of exclusivity, the accessories that accompany the collection – usually a means for those who can't afford the primary piece to get in on the action with something associated – are only available for sale to the phone's purchasers. As well as the plum-colored python pouch the phone comes in, rose gold serpent pendants and cufflinks, each decorated with a number of diamonds, sapphires or rubies appropriate to its cobra or python lineage, make the perfect finishing touch for him and for her.

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