The Royal Jewellers S03 ep3 : Koechert Jewellery [Vienna]

Interview with Wolfgang & Florian Koechert

The foundation of Köchert jewellers goes back to the year 1814. Already in 1831, the company was awarded the title "Purveyors to the Imperial and Royal Court", and in 1868 Alexander Emanuel Köchert was appointed as Chamber Jeweller. As the personal jeweller of the emperor, he thus become the royal treasurer. Since then, it has been part of the Köchert tradition that the house at Neuer Markt is a meeting point for well-known artists who create unique gems together with the master goldsmiths of the firm's own workshops. Today, Christoph, Wolfgang and Florian Köchert continue this tradition. The headquarters of A. E. Köchert Jewellers have been at Neuer Markt 15 since 1873; in December 2005, another shop was opened at the noble Altenmarkt 15 in Salzburg.


We are a family business since now six generations. My two cousins, Christophe the younger one
and Florian who runs the business in Salzberg and me with Wolfgang in Vienna. What we do is high class
very individual jewellery.

The Koecherts they came originally from Germany from Pforzheim it was an old carpenter family, but
one son went to St Petersburg and made an apprenticeship in goldsmithing. He came to Vienna and
got together with another person coming from … from France or Peyote so the first company name
was actually Peyote and Koechert. One was specialised in diamond setting the other one in
enamelling pieces. Really founding the company 1814, supported also by Metanich he was a very
important person in Vienna in those days. So he was a chancellor so he was like the leading hand
of Austria, the whole world was present in Vienna to share somehow the remains of what was left
after Napoleon and to make a new political order and having such a man as a client was not a bad
thing. The interior here was done by Thierfen Von Hansen and Thierfen Von Hansen was a very
important architect, he did the Parliament in Vienna, the Musique … the Bouros and he was a
friend of our great, great grandfather and I think this is still the only one existing shop done by
Vonhansen. Also the interior is still original, if you look at the chairs or at the tables, this is still
from 1873. He came to Austria with a great deal of knowledge, French craftsmanship in gold and
enamel and diamond works coming from Russia, St Petersburg this was genius somehow and the
business became very big …

Koechert Sisi Star

There is one story about Empress Elizabeth she went to an enchanted flute opera and the Queen of
the Night she was wearing the stars in her hair and ever since you know she was dreaming of these
stars wanted to have these stars so we made 27 of these big stars wearing in her hair and obviously
afterwards this became very fashionable so the court, everybody wanted to have stars.

I remember Christmas Eve my grandfather and my father talking for hours about what happened
and how the … business, they had a great joy in what they were doing and I was always feeling
that. It’s a business where you have a huge variety from design, to marketing, dealing with stones,
buying stones, dealing with a goldsmith so you have the creativity you have the business side
which is you know going together.

Koechert necklace

When we after school started I was going with my father to many stone offices in Antwerp and
some and other places and that was really very interesting because you know he has been going
there for many, many years and also you know like the grandfather or his grand uncle and so you
know working with also other companies and other family business for many generations is
something very stunning.

In our case our fathers died very early. I was 21 so it was very important to get somehow you know
the trust from the companies we’ve been working with.

Every generation takes up what they get from culture from the surrounding and so what you see is
very contemporary jewellery but there also there’s also very classical lines so there are some
pieces which just don’t change. Even the modern design you find here you would not believe that
they were made, designed in the 20’s and 30’s.

Koechert Sisi Star necklace

Our ancestors they went to the customer and brought the pieces to the customers. So you didn’t
have an open store, open shop, it was more like a closed office.

Well what I remember most was with my father travelling to very important customers with a
suitcase full of very nice big jewellery and I remember this big emerald and big sapphire … and
earrings and always this question is he going to buy something or not and what will he sell so and
when he came back he said yes I sold the big pieces … yeah, so it was always kind of yeah we
were living with that and it’s still what actually I like most is the contact with the client, it’s very,
very often they’re interesting personalities we meet here. So we have access to people normally
you would not have.

We have some important clients and that they come with crazy ideas and we just sit together and
work it out you know for hours how are you going to make it. Things like very elaborate perfume
bottle objects or fantasy orders, I think this is the fun part when you have some vis a vis with
fantasy and then work it out, it’s like a ping pong game you know then he’s got this idea and
you’ve got this idea but the other idea and so working together and also obviously the design you
kind of try to feel what’s in the air and we always try to do design which is, has the spirit of today
but somehow remains for tomorrow.

Koechert neclace

This is astonishing thing if you see a big nice emerald or diamond wonderful piece like that comes
out of the earth, this is amazing and it makes a woman beautiful, more beautiful than she already
is, I see the jewellery here and in the showcases but when a lady comes and wears it, the jewellery
is much nicer and the ladies … so this goes together very well, it’s actually all about beauty and
love of course because jewellery is a present. We always come into the lives of people when they
is an important and nice moment, weddings, engagements, so it’s always a very pleasant
experience which we have and jewellery is a good sign of love, it’s the language of love.

We became goldsmith because you have to know what you’re talking about and it’s important
when you talk to other goldsmiths that you know you are on the same level and then also you know
gemmological education.

Still now we do very important pieces for people not from the court but from the former court and
so we still have the people in the atelier who are capable of making the pieces since we also
educate our own goldsmith the capabilities and the techniques are being transferred from one
goldsmith generation to the next goldsmith generation. Maybe one of the few places in Vienna
where you would find the skill to really do something custom made for the customer.

What we are doing is really something which we put more important for the future because they
have two tendencies, one is internationalisation, globalisation of the big brands which are present
all over the places and you have people who like something the individual special things which we
do like the niches you find in every city when you go to Berlin you like to find something which is
very linked to the history and to what you see there. The same in Italy and Florence you like to go
to or Venice you like to go to a jeweller who has been there for generations and like the culture of
the city is somehow present in what you buy there. This is our big asset.

Actually a friend of mine he ordered engagement ring and wedding ring at the same time. When
you buy wedding rings in our house we always give a nice wedding present, old tradition which we
do, and so he picked up the engagement ring and the present at the same time and both were in a
little box and then he arranged the whole thing how he would ask his fiancé to marry him and did
one thing on the top of the St Stephen’s Church 160m above Vienna and arranged the champagne
and everything, and then he grabbed into his pocket and offered her this little parcel and she
opened it and there were two silver salt things in there, so that was really very funny, they were
after that he came down and told me the story laughing doing the whole setting and this whole
thing and sort of having the salt things.

Kostas: So he proposed with the gift.

The gift, yes.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Koechert Jewellery