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.
I've just added my last ever collection of Au Bout Des Reves brooches and pins to the website. I'm sad to report that brand Au Bout Des Reves formally known as Catherine Popescu is closing after twenty-three years spent meticulously replicating the beautiful accessories of the Late Victorian and early 20th Century periods. As her creations have been so admired in the years I've stocked them I picked out a big, eclectic final range for the shop!
Popescu established the company after discovering a job lot of original turn-of-the-century brooch stampings at the Paris Flea Market. The moulds, dating from 1880-1920, covered a period of dynamism, experimentation and innovation in design which saw the birth of the baroque and rococo revivals as well as the Art Deco and Nouveau periods.
By adding jewel-coloured translucent enamels and minute Swarovski crystals to ornate frameworks cast from the moulds, Popescu restored these forgotten designs to their original glory. While surviving pieces from early 1900s tend to be fragile and faded, Au Bout Des Reves' designs are fitted with sturdy pin fastenings, coloured in strong stained-glass shades and painted with clear resin to secure their inset crystals.
These highly collectible pieces will only increase in value now that the company are ceasing production. The quality of the work and timeless nature of the designs mean that they'll continue to be loved for decades - real heirlooms!