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.
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!
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.