Sothebys: When did you first realise you wanted to pursue a career as a jewellery designer?
Édéenne: After having lived many lives (coming from Montreal to study at Sorbonne University, working in Paris as a festival organiser at Pompidou Center, a movie producer, a CEO’s coach…) my life changed suddenly one day in September, 15 years ago, during my first scuba diving at the Lake Maggiore in the North of Italy.
Actually, I had an accident. I went too fast to the surface of the water, after being squeezed into a whirlpool of dust, and my instructor told me that I was obliged to dive again to recover. Against my fear, I went down again. I was so surprised I felt better that I turned around and at this precise moment, the sun created a refraction phenomenon around me. I was surrounded by a rainbow which turned all the rocks underneath into sapphires, rubies, emeralds...it was a sign. I will be a jeweller, even if I knew nothing about this universe before. I took the most golden-looking stone as a memento. Two weeks later I was at the gemology school and I made the 4 year study into 5 months, I was in a rush, I was already 45 at that time.
I founded my House of High Jewellery under my name, Édéenne, December 23rd 2003.
Who have been your biggest mentors in this industry and what is the best advice they have ever given you?
I cannot say that I had a mentor in the industry, my vision was from the beginning too far away.
After two years, I went to jewellery school, on rue du Louvre in Paris, and at the first lesson, working with the wax and a file, I discovered that, one, I was there to see how limitless is this world; two, that we can make pieces of art with gold and precious stones and three, that I was a sculptor.
From then, I decided instead of looking for “the” piece that everyone would love around the world, I would spend my time to showing what was incredible in each person who would come to see me. Since then, I meet people, asking them many very private questions and, about two or three hours later, I stop him or her, and say that I see. To make it short, I design a piece of High Jewellery that moves me from their life. Like a painter would do a “portrait”, I do it with precious materials. All my work is based on the notion of “resonance”.
I had no mentor in the industry but so many people helped me since fifteen years to believe in my work, in my vision and to keep my faith. I could write a book about that. Well… maybe one day!
If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career what would it be?
I would change nothing, really. I feel every day that I am blessed, to meet all the incredible customers who come to me, sharing their life stories to see how I will enhance their memories and values into a portrait. It is something that deeply gives me meaning in my own life. You cannot imagine the joy I feel when I look to their eyes when they open the box with the piece they are waiting for.
What was your biggest fear when starting Édéenne?
From the very start, I was crazy enough to believe so much in my vision of High Jewellery, that it made me overcome all my practical fears. I wanted to use jewels to carry emotions, stories, human feelings. I feel something greater than me, pushing my dreams and those of my customers.
What do you want women to feel when wearing your jewellery?
To feel how strong they are. Because they wear a jewel that is not only bespoke, but tells their own stories. It is according to me a real tribute to how “unique” they are.
Who would you most like see wearing your jewellery?
Michelle Obama. I had the pleasure to meet her and talk with her. Her aura is even bigger in real life. She is what I love most in women: determination, feminine power, awareness of mankind and no fear to “say what shall be said” in such a graceful way.
Name two icons you admire - one living, one dead.
My mother who showed me that I could totally restart my life at 45 year-old. She herself went back to university at this age even if my father was suspicious about “why”. She had a new career, running a hospital, a job at that time was held mostly by men. She made me understand I could make my dreams come true, all of them. I unfortunately lost her three years ago. Somehow she is still alive...
Do you have a most treasured item in your personal jewellery collection?
When I was 7, my father, a chemist, disguised me as a princess, (which we don’t have that much in Canada, except in former Native Americans’ tribes!), and he transformed my mother’s strass necklace into a tiara. For me, suddenly, I was “his” princess. You can see it every time in my exhibitions. As well as the stone I picked up in the Lake Maggiore.
How does exhibiting at Sotheby’s tie in with Édéenne?
Usually you can only be introduced at the Maison Édéenne through somebody else. I am very secretive, work in a hidden atelier in Paris and shortly this year in London. I show my work publicly only at museum-quality events. To be part of Sotheby's events is a milestone for me, it is an extraordinary opportunity to create this link between their collectors and me. Sotheby’s enhances Art. And thinking that their customers who will come are collectors, aesthetes, and art lovers... it tells me that my work is considered as such.