The Palme d’Or translated as the Golden Palm is the highest prize awarded at the Cannes Film Festival. A timeless symbol of the Festival de Cannes, it has been awarded to the best film for over 60 years. The trophy is hand-crafted at the reputed brand Chopard’s Geneva workshops in Switzerland. The trophy is created by no fewer than seven artisans and requires over 40 hours of meticulous work.
The original design featuring the palm leaf was created by the renowned jewellery creator Lucienne Lazon. The trophy subtly referred to palm trees on the Cannes Riviera. The Palme d’Or as we now know it, was recreated by Caroline Scheufele in 1998.
An emblem of distinction
Chopard crafts the most prestigious of all cinematography awards, symbolising its appreciation of cinema as well as its commitment to sustainable luxury. The stylized palm tree is made from 118 grams of 18k yellow gold.
Since 2014, the Palme has been manufactured using ‘Fairmined’ gold with a ‘fair trade’ certificate. It is produced by Columbian gold miners in La Llanada, a little town to the north of the Andes. The leaf is placed on a frosted crystal shaped like an emerald-cut diamond.
The creation process
In the redesign process, the leaves and stem were slightly modified to make them more voluminous and precious. The ridges of the stem and the leaves have been enhanced. And the base of the reed is bevelled in the form of a heart.
An 18cm long stem is cut and sculpted from a block of blue jewellery wax. The 19 regulation leaves are sculpted one by one and then assembled onto the stem.
The wax palm is then placed in a well. It is then totally covered with liquid plaster. Later the plaster hardened in a kiln heated to 760ºC. The wax melts, creating a negative form, thus forming the mould.
Next, 18k molten liquid gold dust is poured into the cast obtained. The gold used is made of 75% pure gold and 25% silver, making it malleable.
The Palme d’Or is removed from the cast and treated with a cleaning bath. After several rounds of cleaning it is polished with a blowtorch.
Using a series of grinding torches and fine-grit sandpaper, the jeweller works the material to bring out its full lustre and all the brilliance of gold.
A rock crystal weighing nearly 3 kilos is sawn, cut and polished. As nature never produces two identical crystals, each one is unique, making every trophy distinct from its predecessors. The Palme d’Or is affixed to its crystal cushion, which is sculpted to look like an emerald-cut diamond.
The trophy is then placed in a case of royal blue Moroccan leather. A safety mechanism was added to the case to secure the Palme in place.
The Palme d’Or is finally ready. It leaves the Swiss workshop for the Croisette, where it is held in a secret place before being awarded to the winner at the Cannes Film Festival.