Receiving new stock from Jean-Louis Blin is so exciting - there are no catalogues, no websites, no order forms to create a bespoke list; so the very first time I see the jewellery is when it arrives in the shop. With every shipment, Jean-Louis seems to become more innovative and more experimental; always injecting freshness and creativity into his offbeat vintage-style range.
This pair feature a couple of beautiful, upcycled pastel glass stones, rescued from an old piece of jewellery and given a new lease of life in Blin's glamorous gothic mounts.
Taking influence from the Art Nouveau scene that dominated Western Europe, Blin stays true to the Paris of the past by incorporating curvilinear shapes, Edwardian flourishes and fin-de-siecle butterfly motifs into his handcrafted pieces. These traditional elements are effectively blended with edgier components such as carved beetles, hanging curb-chain curtains and ghostly iridescent crystals.
He doesn't skimp on detail or size, meaning his earrings work perfectly paired with minimal accessories, or no accessories at all.
I adore the work of this truly singular designer: someone who has been honing his craft for over forty years and stayed faithful to his own vision of what makes jewellery beautiful.
French favourite Philippe Ferrandis releases eight new ranges per season, each with a highly distinctive vibe. With Philippe having worked as a jewellery designer since 1986, it's incredible that every collection still surprises with its individuality and freshness - he never seems to run out of inspiration. I can never wait until the galleries for his newest designs appear online - it's trimming down my order that's the tricky part! The first from the SS16 collection to feature on alexandramay.com are the beautiful opal blooms of the 'Daisy' collection.
These frosted treats are fitted with a clip-on backing to ensure they don't weigh down piercings. If you're wary of clip-ons, try Philippe's - they're the most comfortable I've discovered so far. As always with Ferrandis earrings, it's the blend of textures and finishes that distinguish them. The iridescent daisy centres (above) are made in polished Mother of Pearl...
While the Swarovski drops in this pair
are made in opaline crystal, a ghostly, almost phosphorescent material that reflects light more smoothly than its semi-precious stone counterpart.
Having collaborated with Givenchy, Chanel and Balmain, Philippe is an expert in producing couture costume jewellery. What I love is the stunning simplicity of his designs.
Recently a very chic Frenchwoman wandered into my shop and I couldn't help but comment on her fabulous, oversized clip-ons: they were unlike anything I'd seen before. Later on she returned with a jewellery pouch and showed me her holiday capsule earring collection: every pair was the work of Parisian jeweller Jean-Louis Blin. She put me in touch with the designer and, after streamlining a selection of pieces (this was really hard: I loved everything I saw) I'm now able to count myself among the lucky few who stock his wonderful work.
Although superior craftmanship and artistry can be seen in each pair of his earrings, Blin's jewellery is anything but uniform - every design looks markedly different from the last. While other designers often find a style that sells and stay with it, Blin takes risks with every piece of jewellery: so much so that costumiers at Moulin Rouge recognised his exceptional talent for innovation and commissioned him to create bejewelled accessories for their dancers.
Blin and wife Claudine run a shop in Paris dedicated exclusively to his designs. Besides this, they supply only a small number of external stockists, so these designs are well worth coveting when you find them!
All the jewellery is handmade by the Blins plus a three-person team of talented artisans. This commitment to hands-on craft is evident in the quality and intricacy of each piece.
Blin infuses his Art Nouveau-inspired designs with a bold, modern aesthetic and decorates them with splashes of colour. His palette is muted: bright colours are offset by cooler, gentler shades, making these oversized earrings tasteful and wearable. The comfortable clip-on fittings can be worn on pierced and unpierced ears: they're well made and don't pinch.