Bejeweled

Édéenne Transforms the Wonders of the Natural World Into Meaningful Jewelry

Édéenne Butterflies and Blossom Ring in Diamonds and 18 Karat White Gold

It started with a scuba dive in northern Italy’s Lake Maggiore in 2003. The jewelry designer now known simply as Édéenne was 45 years old and working as a corporate life coach. At a critical moment during the dive she was disoriented by a whirlpool — “I was not able to see my own hand in front of me,” she says — and she rose to the surface too quickly. To avoid decompression sickness, she dove back down. There, at the bottom of the lake, she had an epiphany: the sunshine illuminated the surface of the water and its cavernous depths, making everything around her sparkle with rainbow light. Sedimentary stones and silt particles seemed to transform into diamonds, sapphires, rubies and emeralds. “Suddenly I understood my destiny was to start a high jewelry house on the Place Vendôme,” she says, the artistic side of her brain awakening to a new possibility. No more life coaching — a new chapter was about to begin.

jewelry designer Édéenne
At age 45, Édéenne came to the realization that she needed to leave her career as a corporate life coach and pursue her artistic calling as a jewelry designer. Top: The Eden ring, is composed of butterflies and blossoms, her most beloved symbols, crafted from white gold and diamonds. Photos by Pierre Choinière

The Quebecois designer, who has lived in Paris since she was a teenager, previously worked as a film producer and a coordinator of film festival programming for the Museum of Modern Art at Pompidou Center. At college, she started out studying science but quickly shifted gears because she didn’t find the coursework rewarding. “For me to write down a hundred pages about the work of [Swiss sculptor] Giacometti was harder than physics and engineering but, creatively, more exciting and satisfying,” she says. Ultimately, she majored in art history at La Sorbonne, with a concentration in film studies — her thesis was a directory of all the links between the visual arts and cinema, from 1894 to 1984.

For Édéenne, jewelry is yet another storytelling medium. She thinks like an art historian and operates like a portrait artist, layering symbolism, literary allusions and even full narratives into her designs. 

Édéenne is part of a new guard of contemporary high jewelers who, in the mold of masters like JAR or Hemmerle, straddle the line between classicism and innovation. Her pieces have been celebrated by the international fashion press and showcased worldwide in exhibitions at the Musée de la Légion d’honneur and the Palais de Tokyo, in Paris; at Wako, in Tokyo; and at Sotheby’s London. Bank of Montreal, in collaboration with the Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, staged a retrospective of her work in 2017.

Today, her focus is on jewels that tell a story, including bespoke commissions: clever or heartbreakingly beautiful wearable works of art that memorialize clients’ milestones in precious metals and gemstones. 

“It took forty-five years to discover what the meaning of my life should be,” she says. “And that is to use my jewelry as a testament to people’s lives and experiences. When I deliver bespoke jewels to clients, they cry. I put what moves me from what they have told me about their life in the creation. And they are so surprised to see themselves represented in a piece of high jewelry. So, it’s very, very moving. And everybody has an incredible story to tell.”

Below, a deeper dive into Édéenne’s artistic world.

Butterfly 18K White Gold Open Necklace with Diamonds and Akoya Pearls by Édéenne
Édéenne associates butterflies with tenacity. This Open Necklace features eight of the winged creatures, made of white gold and set with brilliant-cut diamonds, along with two removable Akoya pearls.

Tell us about the name of your company, Maison Édéenne. What’s the meaning behind it?

After my epiphany that day in Lake Maggiore, I chose to change my given name and become simply known as Édéenne, the beautiful, intriguing name of my grandmother, who passed away when she was twenty-four while giving birth to her fourth child. Édéenne sounds close to Eden, which seems fitting: My creative world is a fantasy paradise, far away from the realistic world. What I create for clients is something that represents dreams coming true. But on the other hand, what I do is even more realistic, because I am reflecting their truth, the true story of their life, through jewelry.

 How would you describe your approach to jewelry design?

I believe jewelry is an art form — more than a jewel, but a true portrait laden with symbols and emotions. Something that bears witness to the exceptional in each person.

To bring my ideas to life, I don’t rely solely on the highest Parisian high-jewelry techniques and centuries-old traditions, but rather I invent new techniques, like in the gold woven basket ring, which is inspired by a Japanese fishing basket. Its top unscrews so you can fill the ring with different gemstones depending on your mood — they come with the piece in little glass vials. I prefer elements that are unexpected, because for me, savoir faire has meaning only if it’s in service of the higher ideals of art and poetry. 

“When I deliver bespoke jewels to clients, they cry,” Édéenne says. “I put what moves me from what they have told me about their life in the creation. And they are so surprised to see themselves represented in a piece of high jewelry.”

You were once a best-kept secret on the Place Vendôme. But you have recently expanded your reach, particularly with bespoke pieces, catering to clients who are willing to travel from locations around the globe to meet with you in Paris. What are they seeking exactly?

My collectors find joy in works of art rather than heavily marketed items that are available worldwide and in identical form. Each of my jewels magnifies a personal story and celebrates the uniqueness of its owner. We have recently expanded our custom design offerings through a Jewelry Beyond Bespoke program, so that more people have access to what we do.

43 Carat Citrine, Cognac Diamond and 18K Gold Geometric Pyramid Ring by Édéenne
This cocktail ring features a 43-carat citrine set “upside down” above a 1.03-carat cognac diamond. Viewed from above through the citrine’s facets, the single diamond appears to be four stones.

Surely the pandemic has somewhat disrupted this aspect of your business. Have you been able to conduct these important commissions virtually?

Yes, absolutely. Through Zoom or other digital tools, I establish an instant connection with collectors, wherever they are, in total confidentiality. I discovered this new way a year ago, and I love it. When clients contact us through 1stDibs, I invite them to a private online meeting with me. It is magical when we talk, laugh and can exchange ideas from my atelier to wherever they happen to be located. During this warm, intimate conversation, I listen carefully to what matters most to them. I ask about their life, passions and values. I become a biographe, capturing my clients’ stories. And as if by magic, a jewel starts to take shape in my mind.

FOUR BUTTERFLY TWO-FINGER RING
Crafted from white gold and diamonds, the Four-Butterfly two-finger ring was inspired by the migration of monarch butterflies from the U.S. and Canada to Mexico.

Is there a piece in your current 1stDibs assortment that best illustrates your distinct approach?

The Butterfly collection has become a hit. These creatures are so delicate and graceful, and have been designed to give the feeling that they have landed on your neck or your hand and are about to fly away. I am inspired by the annual flight of the monarchs, majestic traveling orange and black butterflies that fly from Mexico to Canada against all odds. I have a memory from when I was seventeen of being surrounded by a cloud of monarchs somewhere along their journey in Quebec, an incredible moment in my life. For me, butterflies are a tribute to tenacity — and grace! They have become one of my signatures, a big part of my design vocabulary, and can be incorporated into many bespoke creations, too.

Orchid cocktail ring
An homage to nature, the Orchid cocktail ring is made of 18-karat white gold, featuring a fancy yellow diamond at its center and petals set with brilliant-cut white diamonds.

 What are your greatest influences and inspirations? 

Art. I see art everywhere — in music, in the objects in my home. I think it’s very important that artists give us their vision of the world, of humanity. That’s something I am always trying to do, as well. When I interview clients for a bespoke project, one of the things I always ask them is what they do for humanity. And I try to connect their values to something in the jewel. The personal connections I form with people are everything to me, and endlessly inspiring. It’s not about how much money you spend on a jewel, it’s about showing the depth of your soul. And I strive to do that with my work. 

Edeenne ring
Édéenne created this bespoke ring for a client, noting that is is “an homage to her grandmother, who introduced her to the magic world of forests.”

Is there a recent bespoke commission that you can tell us about?

I’m designing a piece right now for an American man living in London who heard about me through a friend in Peru. It’s an engagement ring for his wife. They were married for two decades, but they had grown apart, and so they decided to divorce. But on the day that they were in the lawyers’ office to sign the papers, they looked at each other, each with a pen in their hand, and they cried. And they said, “It’s impossible. It’s impossible!” So, they didn’t sign the contract. And they decided to start again. They got back together, not continuing their old way of life but being in love again like it was the first time with somebody else.

I told the client, “No diamond again — because you told me it’s a new story. So, no link to the first engagement ring. We’ll use another stone.” We’re using a Paraiba tourmaline, and I told him it is blue like the turquoise sea and that water is cleansing and that the stone can symbolize the washing away of their old life to make way for their new beginning. He loved this idea. We are also using pavé-diamond ivy leaves in the design of the ring, as a symbol of commitment. Because what happens when you take off ivy leaves from a brick wall? You will break the wall. He loved the symbols. The design is not finished, but they will come to Paris and I will come to a restaurant to give him the ring for the “proposal” — in complete secrecy!

Édéenne’s Talking Points

White Gold Ring with a two-carat diamond on a 400-Diamond Dome
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White Gold Ring with a two-carat diamond on a 400-Diamond Dome

“Titled Full Moon, it is magical as it dramatically changes depending on the lighting conditions. In daylight, the pavé diamonds will offer delicate reflections, but at nighttime, this cocktail ring, with four hundred stones, will dazzle and sparkle like no other.”

Gold Butterfly-Motif ring with Pink Sapphire center stone
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Gold Butterfly-Motif ring with Pink Sapphire center stone

“With this ring, I twisted the powerful signet motif into a feminine, playful, modern design. It is an homage to women’s strength and empowerment. Upon commission, I can suggest designs that weave memories, stories and dreams into the jewel. We can offer highly customized personalization. For instance, the sapphire can be replaced by a diamond center stone or highly selective colored gems that bring endless variations. The sides of the ring can be customized to your passions and desires: butterflies, peacock feathers, Art Deco details or custom-created motifs.”

Four Butterfly Ring
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Four Butterfly Ring

“A two-finger ring, but you can only see four butterflies, which seem to be about to fly away gracefully from your hand — pure poetry.”

15.63-Carat Fancy Yellow Diamond for Bespoke Jewel
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15.63-Carat Fancy Yellow Diamond for Bespoke Jewel

“In our troubled times, rare stones are known to be a sound investment, and the best ones are most likely to significantly increase in value. I bring my twenty-year experience in gemstones to select the truly outstanding stones. This yellow diamond is a rare investment opportunity on its own but can be further enhanced by having it worked into a Beyond Bespoke design.”

Emerald and Diamond Pumpkin-Shaped Cinderella Secret Ring
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Emerald and Diamond Pumpkin-Shaped Cinderella Secret Ring

“This ring is a tribute to the Cinderella fairy tale and an homage to the beautiful mysteries every woman carries within herself. To which of your friends will you unveil the secret contained within the ring? Will you take it off to let them admire the hidden shoe and astonish them? Will you tell them that this detail makes you the princess of their heart?”

White Gold, Diamond and Akoya Pearl Open Butterfly Necklace
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White Gold, Diamond and Akoya Pearl Open Butterfly Necklace

“This necklace is a very touching piece of art, because the butterflies literally seem to be flying on your neck. It is open, elegant and airy and shows how butterflies are more than a motif — they are a visual language for me.”

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