TFJP and the Comité Colbert explore gold in tableware, and its ability to go so well with white porcelain, crystal and silver.
By Sandrine Merle.
In tableware, one of the jewels of French heritage, the perfect combo is gold + white porcelain. Thin and translucent, the white has the shine of a precious stone: it goes perfectly with golden yellow. In its simplest form, it’s a fine thread drawn by craftsmen capable of tracing it perfectly freehand, as in the 18th century! More theatrically, gold can be used all over, i.e. across the entire surface, thanks to chromolithography, a kind of decalcomania.
Gold and magnificence
Élysée, Venice, Enchanted Versailles, Matignon, Byzantium… at Robert Haviland & C. Parlon or Bernardaud, which uses no less than 500 kilos of gold per year, the porcelain services have highly evocative names. With their entanglements of Egyptian motifs, arabesques, angels, scrolls, flowers and all-over gold friezes, they evoke the splendor of aristocratic tables. Moreover, these two leading houses in the field carried out numerous commissions for Louis Philippe, Marie-Antoinette, the Maharajah of Boroda, the Shah of Iran and the Sultan of Brunai. Minimalist enthusiasts, this one’s perhaps not for you!
Gold and the Manufacture de Sèvres: the perfect couple
France distinguished itself very early in this domain with the Sèvres Manufacture to which King Louis XV granted a monopoly on decoration with real gold in 1745. Three years later, it perfected its work by buying from Friar Hippolyte Le Faure the secrets of preparation, laying and burnishing. Indeed, when gold comes out of the oven, where it’s fired at 800-850 degrees, it first takes on a brownish color. In order to give it its incomparable shine, it must be polished with an agate stone. This technique (also used for chairs, chests of drawers, woodwork), enables the creation of subtle material effects – matte or shiny, sandblasted, etc.
Gold, glasses and cutlery
Birds of a feather flock together when it comes to tableware: the two materials of choice for gold are crystal and silver which, like gold, reflect light marvelously. On the crystal side, the sine qua non are the glasses from Saint-Louis and Baccarat. On the silver side, there are knives, forks and spoons from Ercuis and Christofle. All are delicately engraved by hand and then inlaid with gold highlights in the shape of plants. At Puiforcat, we prefer the minimalism of the gold lining the inside of a beautifully round cognac tumbler, or the foot of a cup. The amber, copper and pink nuances of the beverages dancing within are reflected in the golden yellow. Pieces like this are real table jewels.
Dishes for special occasions, dishes for every day
Majestic, theatrical, vivacious. Any gold-based setting is still a must-have for Christmas or New Year’s Eve. But today, gold is no longer reserved for festive decorations and family gatherings: in the age of sharing meals on Instagram, we’re happily pulling out those plates and glasses on a daily basis. Especially since – good news – the gold of some dinner services, like those of Bernardaud, is now dishwasher safe!
Comité Colbert is a 1901 law association that brings together more than 100 members representing French luxury. Its mission is to passionately promote, patiently transmit and sustainably develop French savoir-faire and creation in order to infuse a new sense of wonder.
Banner image: “Versailles Enchanté” tableware by Bernardaud