A timeless jewelry designer, Charlotte Chesnais makes ingenious pieces that flirt with both jewelry and sculpture.
Charlotte Chesnais created her first piece of jewelry whilst working alongside Nicolas Ghesquière as a fashion designer for Balenciaga, where she designed a multi-cuff that played with proportion and was conceived to be stacked. Midway between a jewelry classic and an inspired reworking, the bangle carried the seed of the Charlotte Chesnais brand: continuous, clean lines, an understanding of the body and a confident singularity. Nearly six years after that first step, she set up her own house in 2015.
«I don’t just design jewelry. My pieces are not merely earrings, rings, bracelets or necklaces, I want to create beautiful objects, with lines that are fluid, dynamic, sharp and disciplined. Unexpected. The jewelry is a pretext, I could just as well be making chairs, tables or forks. As a medium, it provides extra support for my ongoing research into form and use. I like twisting, melting, shaping and constraining. I like to set the jewelry-object against the contours of the body in the same way that I like to create pieces that are always calculated to be on the edge of the classical, the well-balanced, the sculptural. It’s the way in which I rebel against understood order to constitute a family of my own archetypes over time. They are objects which are just as beautiful worn on the body as they are set aside.»
«Expertise is fundamental to my work. It translates as respect for both the techniques we use and the craftspeople behind them.»
«Before each piece of jewellery there is a hand-made model in a Parisian workshop with whom I have been working since the beginning. I need this close relationship with these remarkable craftsmen, the only ones capable of bringing to life my sketches drawn quickly on a loose sheet of paper or my approximate tests on the body. Together, we look for shapes, we twist, we weld, we hammer. The exchange is essential. It's my favorite part. Without them, the brand would not exist. At least, it wouldn't be so rich.»
Made in France
«All my jewelry is developed and made in French workshops. I need a close relationship with these remarkable craftspeople as they are the only ones able to bring to life my rough sketches on scraps of paper and very approximate tests on the body. Working together, we find forms, we twist, we solder, we hammer. We talk a lot. It’s my favorite time. Without them, the brand wouldn’t exist - or at least it wouldn’t be as rich.»
18 carat vermeil
«Vermeil (silver covered in gold) is a precious material that I like a lot. It’s lighter than solid gold, so it means that I can create larger-scale pieces that make more of a statement. A beautiful yet rather demanding metal to work with, it requires its own special expertise. All our vermeil jewelry is made in French workshops by exceptional smelters who I am very proud to work with.»
Note: Vermeil carries a State hallmark and is the subject of customs regulations. In France it must consist of a sterling silver base, plated with at least 5 microns of 18-carat gold.
«I love combining vermeil with silver. We only use rhodium-plated silver, which is silver covered with a fine layer of rhodium to allow a patina to develop as it ages.»
«Alongside my vermeil and silver line, I developed pieces in 18 carat gold. As a material, I enjoy working with it just as much for its brightness, as its solidity. Rigid and stainless, it allows me to extend my lines a little further, to play a little differently with forms and curves.»
Note: 18 carat gold carries a State hallmark representing an eagle’s head. Its alloy must consist of at least 75% pure gold. It’s stainless and non-allergenic.
«As I don’t come from the diamond world, I don’t have any hang-ups about using diamonds. For me, it’s a just another material I can use in my work, that’s very beautiful, very bright. It’s another world, I’ve been incredibly lucky to discover it alongside one of the best diamantaires in Paris. Their stones are exceptional, it’s just amazing to work with such extraordinary stones, but I try to retain a certain beginner’s enthusiasm when it comes to using diamonds, so I don’t stick too closely to the established rules.»
Note: All our diamonds are certified by the Responsible Jewelry Council.
Photographer: Ola Rindal