Paris-based jeweller Edéenne entered the realm of high jewellery in 2003 by a somewhat circuitous route. Then in her 40s, she had been a documentary film producer and a corporate strategist, and was diving in Lake Maggiore when the light touched the water, catching her eye as it illuminated a magical jewel-like world below the surface. Cue a career change. Since then, she has honed an ethereal yet highly detailed style in her Rue de la Paix atelier and works closely with clients on bespoke pieces, aiming to create “portraits in jewellery”. Edéenne might be the best-kept secret on the Place Vendôme, but her status is such that London’s Sotheby’s is staging an exhibition (Maison Edéenne High Jewellery, Beyond Bespoke) dedicated to the Quebec-born artist from October 25 to 30, which will be presented in a pitch-black room with storytellers guiding visitors by torchlight.
The showcase spotlights 36 pieces, 26 of which will be for sale, including custom-made jewels and signature works – shedding light on Edéenne’s singular approach to high jewellery and her sources of inspiration. The star lot comes from her collaboration with Mellerio dits Meller – the court jeweller to French royalty for four centuries – producing an articulated collar (price on request) studded with 15 antique oval Burmese rubies and more than 5,000 diamonds. The piece mimics the look of 17th-century lace, weighs 550g and took more than 5,000 hours to make.
Edéenne draws from nature, fairytales and her travels for her artistry. An autumn trip to the Kyoto Imperial Palace in Japan, for example, inspired her Aki ring (£88,000) that is adorned with a central 17.72ct Colombian emerald edged with tiny rose- and white-gold maple leaves. “I wanted to create a daytime design for this large emerald,” says the jeweller, “so I decided to envelop it in gold sculpture, breaking away from traditional stone setting.”
The sculptural and intricate Congo ring (£22,000) – fusing rock crystal, diamonds and yellow and white gold – was influenced by the African adventure books Edéenne read as a child. “I wanted to depict a gold crocodile gliding out of the water in rock crystal,” she says. “Water is one of my main sources of inspiration and trying to reflect its transparency, fluidity and clarity is a great challenge for a jeweller.”
The transformable Four Seasons necklace (£218,000) is a tribute to the artist’s native Canada, as well as her creativity. The piece takes the form of a branch in ebony, black diamonds and black gold, with stones – each representing a different season – that can be interchanged throughout the year. For spring, there are 72.95 carats of white cultured pearls; 123 carats of mohave turquoise and tsavorites for summer; carnelian, agate, amber, orange and yellow sapphires for autumn; and 160 carats of white jade and diamonds for winter.
The jeweller’s most favoured motif is the butterfly, and several pieces in the exhibition are inspired by monarch butterflies, including a diamond and white-gold Envol ring (£22,000). “I think these pieces are the closest to my personality and life journey,” says Edéenne. “They are a symbol of the tenacity and resilience that led to my career as a jeweller, and I wanted to convey their seeming fragility and the poetry of their flight.”