Bringing Artefacts to Life with Reine d
In February of last year we invited Anne-Valérie Legrix, Head of Design at Reine d’Amour, to work on a collection of jewellery inspired by the beautiful artefacts and architecture of Westminster Abbey.
Based in rural East Hertfordshire, Reine d’Amour specialise in working with the heritage sector on bespoke jewellery design and concept marketing. Each item is made using age-old artisan techniques and materials, taking up to four months to design and manufacture.
After exploring the Abbey to find sources of inspiration, Anne-Valérie spoke to us about her experience: ‘Here at Reine d’Amour our passion is creating beautifully crafted, original pieces of jewellery for the tastes of today's customers, but inspired by history - everything from architecture and furniture to decorative art and costume. Westminster Abbey is steeped in more than a thousand years of history so we were particularly excited and honoured to be asked to work on this project. I was very much inspired by the smaller, more understated architectural details within the Abbey, for example the columns of Henry VII’s tomb. I was keen to show how aspects of these ancient monuments and structures could be made into feminine and desirable accessories, equally relevant in today’s world’.
Henry VII Chantry
Anne-Valérie is trained in fine art, jewellery design and artisan craftsmanship and after several visits to the Abbey to fine-tune her thoughts, she carefully drew up several designs by hand and presented them to the product development team.
Anne Valérie Legrix - Head of Design at Reine d'Amour
Once designs had been finalised, metal finishes agreed and stones decided, the Reine d’Amour craftsmen set to work to produce a ‘master pattern’ for each style. This is a painstaking process involves the designer and a highly skilled artisan, whose task is to turn a two-dimensional drawing into a three-dimensional model. It can take up to four weeks to achieve the final result.
The master pattern is the original of that design, from which all pieces are subsequently made.
Layers of soft rubber are placed together to make a mould, capturing the fine details of the design before solidifying, then molten wax is injected under high pressure to create a wax replica. Several waxes are joined together to form a ‘tree’ which is placed into a flask and filled with plaster. This plaster mould is then baked in a kiln and the wax vaporised at very high temperatures. Molten silver of the required fineness is poured in and, once set, the newly-formed metal tree is released from its plaster casing. The individual castings are cut from the tree, and then filed, polished, soldered and stone-set into the finished pieces by an expert jeweller at a traditional bench.
The whole process takes time, training and a great deal of practice and is still highly dependent on the expertise and commitment of people, even now in our highly advanced technological world.
Jewellery Design Process for Henry VII Chantry Pieces
Some pieces in the Reine d’Amour silver collection are plated in 9ct gold, as befits the grand nature of their provenance. Our freshwater pearl and silver locket and matching earrings are inspired by the decorative metalwork of the Quire gate, whilst our elegant and airy garnet pendant and earrings reflect the carved oak Quire stalls. Perhaps the most striking pieces are those inspired by the tomb of Henry VII – the columnar shapes stacked inside with loose cubic zirconia stones in deep red and olive.
To read more about Reine d’Amour and their work, click here to visit their website.