For the Maison’s first retrospective exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris in the autumn of 2022, then in Asia during 2023, the high jewelry Maison has gone in search of the pieces that have shaped its 85-year history. It is why Valérie Samuel, Vice-President and Artistic Director of Fred, and granddaughter of the founder, launched the global campaign “Fred seeks Fred” in 2020. She did not know back then what fate had in mind for her…
Fred Samuel founded his Maison in 1936. The “Creative Modern Jeweler” soon attracted a clientele of celebrities and royal and princely families entrusted him with their special commissions. To fulfil them, the jeweler started seeking gemstones that would help him create true masterpieces. Fred undoubtedly became the jeweler specializing in color. Its visionary spirit and expertise gave rise to exceptional pieces, including “Pretty Coeur”, fascinating jewels, such as the “Oiseau” (Bird) brooch, made of multicolored sapphires, just to name of few, and of course, the SOLEIL D’OR.
Fred crossed path with this exceptional stone in 1977. Anonymous diamond, with an incredible 105.54-carat weight and a “Fancy Yellow” shade, it quickly became one of the most fascinating pieces of its time. Unusually beautiful in every aspect, its solar radiance and glittering color was enough for Henri Samuel to dub it the SOLEIL D’OR. It held something of the French Riviera sunlight and embodied the joie de vivre, optimism, energy, and warmth that have brought to life every jewelry piece designed by the Maison. The SOLEIL D’OR was unveiled to the general public on November 24th, 1977, during an exhibition organized at Fred’s historic boutique in Paris. Another event, held before the exhibition at Maxim’s, which actress Margaux Hemingway attended, where she playfully pretended to lose the stone for a short amount of time, turned it into an eternal icon.
Then, colored stones became a signature passion throughout FRED’s history, but the SOLEIL D’OR was and will be its most beautiful story. “When we put the SOLEIL D’OR in the context of Fred’s history, we appreciate how it completely embodies a jewelry house that excels in creating and marketing jewelry in its own unique way” says Charles Leung, CEO of Fred. Indeed, the SOLEIL D’OR disappeared from view in the secrets of private collectors in November 1977, but its memory has very much been kept alive. It was actually ranked 52nd in the list of the world’s largest cut diamonds in Ian Balfour’s book “Famous Diamonds”. It has also introduced Fred to the private circle of jewelers to hold stones of over 100 carats.
In 2021, after more than 44 years apart, the SOLEIL D’OR reappeared thanks to the search for archive material led by Valérie Samuel. The stone has been polished and recut in an emerald cut with angled corners. It now weighs 101.57 carats, and the new shape magnifies its color, described as “Fancy Intense Yellow”. The SOLEIL D’OR is a genuine treasure thanks to its magnificent size, exceptionally rich color, and rarity in nature.
The fabulous gemstone has finally returned to the Maison’s heritage, and it recounts its genius and expertise. But there is more to it. Indeed, “its color, brimming with youth, energy and even confidence in the future, will be a permanent inspiration for the next chapter in FRED’s history”, concludes Charles Leung.