The home of rare jewels. A cabinet of curiosities. Mysterious. Extraordinary. And so go the countless words to describe Lydia Courteille’s Parisian shop and studio, not to mention her jewellery.
A collector of vintage jewellery in all shapes and forms, a gemologist, globetrotter and scientist, Lydia Courteille only began making jewellery a decade ago, but already she has established herself among some of the world’s most innovative and daring jewellery designers.
So what makes her unique? Each Lydia Courteille jewel makes fantasy a reality, from surrealist artworks brought to life in gold and enamel, to rockpools of opal glinting on the finger and cuffs of pink gemstone rabbits that evoke tumultuous Alice in Wonderland dreams.
Adorn Jewellery Blog: The world of Lydia Courteille is truly fascinating and your work continues to challenge the boundaries of jewellery design. When or where did you begin?
Lydia Courteille: I started life in the antiques jewellery business and then a few years ago decided to create some pieces of my own. Success came quickly, so now, slowly but surely, I’m giving up antiques for my own creations. I sketched my first designs in 1985, though I never learned design – for me, it’s natural. I still prefer to draw [my jewels], otherwise you can’t say you are a ‘designer’ – many people make the confusion between being a brand and a designer.
AJB: Tell us about Homage to Surrealism. You celebrate some famous artworks and artists with this collection. Did you have to study a lot of their work, and if so, who or what was most fascinating?
LC: My favourite Surrealists painters are Dali, Max Ernst and Magritte. I spend a lot of time in museums all around the world – it’s my little pleasure – so for me it was normal to imagine a Surrealist collection. They are a great source of inspiration but I realised that the young generation don’t know them, especially out of Europe, so jewellery is another way to tell their stories.
AJB: Although you are working less with antique jewellery, does jewellery from the past influence and inspire you?
LC: I have bought 7,000 pieces of jewellery during my life in the antiques business; you imagine all of the techniques, designs, and methods [used]. It’s been a mine of inspiration for me!
AJB: Nature, colour and lush tropical hues are part of your recent collections – can you give us an insight into your next collections or current designs you are working on?
LC: I have two collections that are ready… But right now I don’t know which one will be revealed first. I can say that, once again, my travels were source of inspiration for these collections. I will present one of them in October, in New York, so you will have to wait and see then!
Words: Kathryn Bishop
Images: Lydia Courteille