This June we visited Révélations in Paris for the first time. The biannual event is a prestigious showcase of the finest contemporary creations from France and abroad. Among the great design objects, furniture and art pieces, exciting jewellery is also exhibited – we selected three from our favourite ateliers.
In many cases jewellery (and watches) are highly personal treasures. Collectors, but also owners of individual pieces, are bound to jewellery through their adventurous stories; they are the messengers of special past events and represent connection to ancestors, former owners, or to the maker itself. This is true for vintage jewellery but also for contemporary creations. Either by wearing them day-to-day or on special occasions, jewels become a part of ourselves.
The ateliers we selected from the Révélations create jewellery in very different styles and therefore target distinct segments, but they all maintain a very personal relationship with their clients. The conversations showed me their enthusiastic dedication to aesthetic perfection and to the joy of the creation so evidently, that it reconfirmed to me yet again why I love attending these kinds of events.
We had such an inspiring discussion with Catherine Daymard and her daughter-in-law-to-be (Catherine has four sons, so the lovely young lady is a great addition to the family). For every piece she had an individual, fascinating story to tell.
I believe that visual experiences, impressions and the ambience around us at an early age highly influence our aesthetic and creativity. Catherine has been surrounded by art and beautiful objects since her early childhood. Her jewellery-aficionado mother and art historian father taught her to appreciate precious materials and gemstones and the exquisite work of artisans and restorers.
Although she ended up working in the corporate world, she has always been attracted to the artistic and creative fields. Beyond holding an MBA from the University of Ottawa, Canada, she studied at the Ecole du Louvre, the Ecole Boulle and the Institut National de Gemmologie (ING), in Paris.
In 2015, she finally launched ‘Daymard Contes & Joaillerie’ to cast her and her new customers’ jewellery dreams into actual pieces. Her sketches include inspirations and memories from her childhood home along the banks of the Marne River, their garden, and even her trips to faraway cultures. As she explains, every Daymard piece comes with its own little fairytale, which she documents and hands over together with the jewel to the new owner.
I couldn’t resist trying on some. First, a showstopper, the Maharadja ring – inspired by the tale ‘The Feathers of Maharaja’. It evokes the enigmatic and miraculous India at the time of the maharajas. The shape of the ring reflects the sumptuous turbans with sculpted red gold, which mimics the silk material of the turban. The tiny white gold decorations and the two Akoya pearls beautifully frame the 11.7 carat deep blue-green tourmaline cabochon.
The ring features a plumed panache created by Eric Charles-Donatien, a designer-plumassier. He was the head creative for La Maison Lemarié, a French house specialised in the art of featherwork, the crafting of fabric flowers, and needlework. He has collaborated with the most prestigious fashion Maisons, including Chanel, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Jean Paul Gaultier, Roger Vivier, Vera Wang and Roberto Cavalli. In 2010 he founded his own company and he works closely with design studios or on very special projects, just like this jewel with Catherine.
The plumed panache clip can be easily replaced by another one without a feather, but instead decorated with two Paraiba tourmaline stones. Catherine calls them the ‘Special Night’ style with the feather and the ‘Pleasant Day’ style without.
If there is a Maharaja, there has to be a Maharani as well. Catherine dedicated two statement necklaces to the female counterpart of a maharaja. The Sanskrit word that means ‘great queen’ and these necklaces are quite fitting. The one-of-a-kind pieces consist of special stones and gold beads from twisted gold threads. The big rock crystals are from India and are all unique. One is designed in the shape of a large egg, while another is sculpted in the shape of a feather or a chiselled sphere. To the ensemble, she added a torch glass piece created in Parisian workshops as well as an antique agate, from the Cambay region in India, which has been sculpted, polished and drilled by hand.
LA DUCHESSE AUX PIEDS NUS
Anne Roussel welcomed us at her booth with her statement style and jewellery. She is a radiant and energetic person and somehow her pieces echo her strong character.
Interestingly enough, she also used to work in the corporate sector. She was a style consultant and art director in the fashion and luxury industries Her grandparents had been jewellery makers so she had already some foundation by the time she started to train herself in jewellery making and gemmology. She launched her own brand, LA DUCHESSE AUX PIEDS NUS in 2015 too.
Her atelier-showroom is in a nice area in Paris, only a few minutes’ walk from the Musée National Picasso. Each piece of jewellery is first sculpted by hand, thus preserving the richness of the hand craft. The pieces are made in France by jewellers, or within her workshop in Paris. Anne uses a fair amount of diamonds and it is very important for her to keep it as high quality and ethically-sourced as possible.
For its collections LA DUCHESSE AUX PIEDS NUS uses high-end diamonds only, with colour grades between ‘colourless white F’ and ‘near colourless G’, and with great clarity grades between VVS1 and VS1. The latter is ‘very slightly included’ – roughly meaning that the diamonds will have very minor characteristics that are difficult (VS1) or somewhat easy (VS2) for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification. Aligned with the Kimberley process, she buys only certified diamonds that were not involved in the financing of armed conflicts, according to the written guarantees supplied by the diamond dealers.
Anne loves to work on bespoke projects – it could be a completely new creation from scratch, a unique jewel for a special gemstone or giving a second life to a family treasure which you’ve never worn.
LA DUCHESSE AUX PIEDS NUS offers collections but with limited editions – the pieces are created in a series of only 150 copies globally. On the website you can follow the number of units from a certain piece and the exact serial number of the jewel you would like to buy (which tells you the amount of available remaining pieces from a design).
Currently there are four core-collections: Modesty, Blooming, No Gender and Trio.
The Modesty collection is a minimalistic statement – slightly sharp and refined lines complemented with gentle curves and decorated with baguette- or princess-cut diamonds. Rings and double rings, earrings or ear cuffs are featured in the line. The ‘Revelation’ double ring underlines an understated elegance – you can conceal or reveal the bejewelled strips of the ring thanks to a system called ‘Reverso’.
The Blooming line is a refined interpretation of the cherry blossom and its branches. Tiny flowering branch earrings or suspended earrings – the models can be worn on their own, in pairs or with another model from the collection.
I love Anne’s double rings. One in the Blooming collection is called Sakura, with flowers and buds that are suspended between the fingers. In some cases, double rings are too heavy and rigid, but these sit nicely on and between the fingers and are perfectly comfortable for everyday use, while making a style statement.
Hélène Courtaigne Delalande loves gold, especially yellow gold – you can tell from her creations but also just by looking at her. She is a nonchalant ambassador of her own brand by wearing many of her designs paired with a golden suntan and a colourful patterned dress.
After having worked as an artistic director in advertising, Hélène became a jewellery designer in 2000. She loves gemstones, she studied gemmology in Paris, at the National Gemological Institute.
Hélène creates the little wonders herself – she has a recognisably distinct finishing – a registered and patented technique which gives the creation a unique texture by alternating matte and shiny gold surfaces.
Her jewels are often inspired by baroque, mediaeval, Byzantine or Gallo-Roman motifs and she loves to pair the bold design with impressive coloured gemstones like spessartites, tsavorites, iolites, morganites, rubellites or tanzanites. There are earrings, necklaces, bracelets in her collections but her favourites are the rings – she already created an amazing variety of them, with or without gems and in some really different styles. I think it is almost impossible not to choose at least one or two pieces.
More on Revelation? Here you go.
Will you spend some time this summer in Paris? Read our recommendations for exhibitions.
Photo credits: Daymard, LA DUCHESSE AUX PIEDS NUS, Hélène Courtaigne
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