Wednesday, June 15, 2016
On a very rainy day in Paris recenty, I decided to tuck myself into one of the plush velvet seats at the cinema on the Boulevard Saint-Germain. The harder it rained, the faster I walked to get there thus arriving too early to be seated. With fifteen minutes to spare, I walked the cobblestone streets near the rue Saint André des Arts and stumbled upon a jewelry store window filled with treasures. With both my umbrella and my nose pressing against the window, I was astonished to see a portait ring that bore an incredible resemblance to my husband. The shop owner poked his head out the door and smiled at me. I told him I only had a few minutes but that I would love to see this ring a bit closer. I knew I had to come back after the film to "study" this portrait a bit more! I walked to the cinema to see the film and while I should have been completely distracted by the handsome actor Jean Dujardin, I couldn't stop thinking about the ring and its uncanny resemblance to my husband.. As you might imagine, this ring became mine after a lovely visit with the jeweler and the promise to return to show him a photograph of my Frenchman. I love designing costume jewelry but am intrigued by antique fine jewelry and the history that belongs to it. In fact, what compelled me to start my jewelry brand over 20 years ago was the desire to share the antique treasures that I found in the Paris flea markets and translate them in a modern way for my clients. Many of my current pieces reference jewelry from the 60's and 70's and some of my first Couture jewelry was made from 18th century French trims and buckles. Portrait jewelry was popular in the 17th and 18th centuries so it makes sense that I am drawn to it. Before photography, portraits were hand-painted on ivory, porcelain, paper, or mother of pearl. They were given as a love token and in some cases as a way of introduction by a young man to a young lady. Some portraits were painted on ornate boxes or given in small jeweled frames. When they were given as jewelry, a more intimate message was implied. Many times, a portrait ring was offered as an engagement ring and was framed in small jewels. Wouldn't that be a great idea still today as a wedding gift or an anniversary gift? Antique portrait jewelry is a kind of poetry for a romantic heart. Who says you shouldn't wear your heart where everyone can see it?