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!
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.