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Living and making jewelry in France


#1

I live in France right now, which sounds very romantic, but I’m
really missing the resources I had in the San Francisco Bay Area.

We had many schools teaching jewelry arts (Revere Academy to name
one), Several excellent sources for materials and tools, wholesale
gem markets coming through regularly, galleries showing jewelry, lots
of stores selling jewelry. It’s a beautiful place to live with a lot
to do.

The one problem. It’s also incredibly expensive.

Here in France, while it has many pluses. I haven’t found the same
resources as the Bay Area. And something a bit unexpected: I don’t
find much jewelry done with semi-precious stones in the "Bridge"
category. There is the high-end Cartier type stuff or there is
costume jewelry in crystal and often just in brass.

In San Francisco just about every little boutique clothing store
also has a very nice collection of handmade jewelry. Here, so far,
many of the clothing stores don’t carry jewelry and if they do, it’s
often pretty crappy.

Maybe I’ll find more as I live here longer, but this is my
impression so far.

So far this is the only store I’ve seen that I thought was doing
really nice, interesting work (fine jewelry):

http://www.terredepierre.com/accueil/accueil.htm

Leslie Nicole


#2

Leslie -

If there are no boutiques there like we have in the Bay Area, maybe
it’s a market niche you could fill yourself. I’m sure there are
lots of people on this list alone who would be happy to offer
handmade jewelry in addition to your own for you to sell. And just
think of all the trips we’d need to make to bring you new products!
%^)

You could open up the French market!

Linda


#3

Assuming you are in Paris. I believe there are some stores in the
old Jewish section of the city. I remember passing the last time I
was in Paris which was 2 years ago.


#4
I live in France right now, which sounds very romantic, but I'm
really missing the resources I had in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

Hello Leslie,

As you know, I share your frustration in terms of supplies and
resources here in France. At first I assumed it was my poor French
language skills but I’m slowly realizing it’s more than just that.
Good tool and equipment suppliers are just plain hard to find here.
My solution has been to order from Germany, Belgium and even the UK
when the need or price incentive arises.

In Paris however there are a number of places where pretty
interesting “non-Cartier” jewellery can be found. In particular there
is the Marais in the 3rd and 4th arrondisments where quite a bit of
work in Sterling appears in the clothing shops. In that particular
area almost ever clothing shop has a small display area set aside for
jewellery. The Marais is the center of gay community in Paris you’ll
see a lot of fairly weighty designs but still some very good
workmanship if not too complex. There are at least a dozen places in
this area worth checking out.

Another good area for higher end stuff in gold and silver is along
Rue Saint Honore leading up to the Place Vendome area which features
some pretty high end shops. (I’d estimate about twice as many
interesting hops in this area as in the Marais, some being retail
boutiques others being straight artisan-designer storefronts)

A third area, though much less dense in terms of the number of shops,
is in the Od=E9on area of the 6th arrondisment, particulary nearest to
Metro Od=E9on. There are a few up towards the Luxembourg gardens as
well but they’re pretty scattered out. (about half as many shops as
the Marais though most are strictly artisan-designer shops).

I’ve found wandering through these areas to be quite refreshing in
creative terms because the French have a somewhat different “take” on
artisan jewellery than North Americans often do, but that’s a whole
other subject in itself.

Cheers,
Trevor F.


#5
I've found wandering through these areas to be quite refreshing in
creative terms because the French have a somewhat different "take"
on artisan jewellery than North Americans often do, but that's a
whole other subject in itself. 

I’d really love to hear your take on this subject. Here in the US I
find that you hear a lot about Americans being poorly educated about
different international subjects, literature and current events.
When I took trips to Scotland, England and Germany to visit
relatives and friends, who are generally artist types, teachers and
industry folks. Most if not all of them envied Americans for our
access to newspapers and the number of subscribers they have, the
inexpensive cost of our books (Books in Germany are evidently highly
taxed) and how much contemporary art people have in their homes. I
remember listening to a radio interview program on the BBC radio and
an author they had on was so overjoyed that her book was picked up
by a publisher in the US and became somewhat well read in a small
segment of the US market and it increased her sales of the book
exponentially. Her comment, and I wish I could remember who it was,
but I broke into the story mid way through the program, was that she
envied American readers for their voracious appetite for books; a
comment you don’t hear in the US.

Curious,
Larry


#6
... the French have a somewhat different "take" on artisan
jewellery than North Americans often do .... 
I'd really love to hear your take on this subject. 

Hello Larry,

With all the obvious caveats in mind I’d say that in general I’d I
find European artisan jewellers work differs in the following ways:

a) less preoccupied with diamonds.

b) tend to use more classical design elements and styles.

c) less interested in “freeform” stuff.

d) more likely to mix classical and contemporary designs.

e) less interested in hitting the low price points.

Obviously all of this is personal and in the eye of the beholder and
all the rest of that stuff.

My observations are based on two years of informal research, both
here in Europe and back in North America, and the collection and
comparison of approx 4000 photographs.

If you’d like to discuss this further I’d request that we do it
offlist. I’ve found that this kind of generalization tends to offend
more people than it informs and I have no desire to offend anyone on
this list with what are just my personal, and therefore 100% biased,
opinions.

Cheers,
Trevor F.