These Trophies Are Created for Those Who Are in a League of Their Own

by Charmian Leong
12 Jun 2024

Some of the world’s most respected and sought-after awards have been crafted by the luxury industry’s heavyweights, adding to them another layer of rarity and desirability.

The Cannes Film Festival has long been synonymous not just with cinematic excellence, but also with glamour and luxury. Each year, the world’s top couturiers and jewellers share the spotlight with filmmaking’s greatest, but few have ties to the silver screen as strong as Chopard. In addition to unveiling a dedicated high jewellery collection at each festival, Chopard is also responsible for creating all the awards presented at the ceremony.

Caroline Scheufele drawing the Palme d'Or, photo by Alain Perret

Of the festival’s nine trophies, the coveted Palme d’Or (meaning “golden palm”) stands as the most prestigious and is awarded for the year’s best film. Introduced in 1955, the first Palme d’Or was designed by Parisian jeweller Lucienne Lazon, and featured a palm frond – a symbol of victory that is also found on the Cannes city coat of arms – on a terracotta pedestal. The design of the Palme d’Or evolved over the years. The original rounded base became pyramidal in 1984, and in 1992, jeweller Thierry de Bourqueney gave it a contemporary look, changing the pedestal to hand-cut crystal.

While not as elaborate as a piece of Chopard jewellery, each award is afforded the same amount of care, requiring no fewer than 70 hours of work by a jeweller and a team of six artisans. The award is made from 118 grams of Fairmined-certified ethical gold that has been melted in Chopard’s own foundry, cast using the ancient lost-wax casting technique, then trimmed, cleaned, polished, and assembled. Chopard’s Palme d’Or remains the only film trophy in the world to be crafted from ethical gold.

Palm d'Or 2024 by Chopard

Theo Angelopoulos became the first director to win this version of the award for Eternity and a Day in 1998. Typically, only one Palme d’Or is presented each year, but for the first time in the festival’s history in 2013, three were awarded for Blue is the Warmest Colour: One to director Abdellatif Kechiche, and two to the respective lead actresses Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux. While there is always one backup award in case of damage or a joint winner, a third had to be made at the last minute, and it was delivered to the Palais des Festivals just a few hours before the closing ceremony.

Laureate of the Trophée Chopard Sophie Wilde and Mike Faist, photo by Greg Williams

Special editions of the award have also emerged over the years. On the festival’s 70th anniversary in 2017, the trophy featured a “frosted” effect and was adorned with 167 ethically sourced diamonds. To celebrate both Chopard’s 25-year partnership with the festival and the festival’s 75th anniversary, the Palme d’Or’s base was replaced with rose quartz to symbolize love.

Indeed, Chopard’s love for cinema has been ardent. The brand even launched its own award for the Cannes Film Festival, the Trophee Chopard, in 2001 to honor a promising young actor and actress. This trophy takes the form of a gold-plated film strip, and this year’s awardees are Mike Faist and Sophie Wilde.

It makes sense for the glitzy Cannes Film Festival to enlist a luxury jeweller to create its award, but now, even the Olympics are welcoming a little extra refinement. Chaumet has been selected as the designer for the Paris 2024 Olympics and Paralympics medals – a fitting choice considering the maison was the inaugural jeweller to open on Place Vendome. Gustave Eiffel, the visionary behind the iconic tower that bears his name, was once a patron of Chaumet’s flagship boutique.

Paris 2024 Olympics medals by Chaumet

Each medallion features a hexagonal centerpiece set using the same techniques that are used to set gemstones, and the sunburst pattern that radiates from it is a signature Chaumet motif. On the back of the Olympics medal is a depiction of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, alongside the Pantheon, the Olympic rings, and the Eiffel Tower. The back of the Paralympic medal carries the dates of the games on the sides in International Braille, with the middle devoted to a stylized view of the Eiffel Tower as seen from below.

While this is the first time in the Games’ history for a jeweller to be tasked with designing the medals, brands like Tiffany & Co have been crafting trophies for decades. In fact, its “Makers” department is responsible for over 65 varieties of trophies every year and has relied on the same tools and techniques it has been using since the mid-19th century.

Tiffany & Co NFL trophy

Its history of trophy making dates to 1860, when the company helped design the Woodlawn Vase for the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing – currently the oldest continuously contested trophy in the US. Its trophies span several sporting disciplines, from sharpshooting’s Brooklyn Daily Eagle Prize Cip to baseball’s Commissioner’s Trophy. Among the more famous ones are the Vince Lombardi Super Bowl Trophy, the NBA’s Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy, and numerous awards for the PGA Tour. 

In 2020, it ventured into the esports field with the Monster Strike Grandprix Trophy. Despite the category’s relative youth, these trophies are nothing to sniff at – the 2021 League of Legends Pro League Dragon Trophy boasts an intricate dragon-inspired design, set with four marquise aquamarines, and it took Tiffany silversmiths over seven months to complete.

These precious accolades are also often stored and transported in equally lavish style. Since 1988, Louis Vuitton has been crafting trophy trunks for events like the Formula 1, Rugby World Cup, FIFA World Cup, the NBA, the America’s Cup, and more. As an LVMH stablemate to Chaumet, Louis Vuitton was naturally tasked with creating the Medals Trunks and Torches Trunks for this year’s Olympic Games.

Australian Open Louis Vuitton trophy trunk

Being recognized for outstanding achievements in one’s field is probably reward enough in its own right, but when the world’s most distinguished brands and their highly skilled team of craftsmen are behind the physical mementos of these triumphs, it ostensibly makes victory that much sweeter.