HAITI WAS WHERE jeweler Emma Villedrouin grew up; she lived next door to her grandmother until age 15. “There’s an attitude there about material — you reuse things and make them work.” Like steel drum sculptures constructed from shipping drums. Art is made out of materials that would have been thrown away anywhere else, she says.
Although Villedrouin doesn’t reuse materials for her elegant pieces of colored stones paired with luminous pearls and 18K gold, she likes things that are functional and relate to the past. Today’s world is filled with too much newness, she opines. “I have an affinity for things that last.”
Texture and layering gold and stones are important to Villedrouin’s work, which she says is influenced by the many places she has lived or visited. Her home base is D.C., but she’s currently living in Brazil with her husband who’s on an extended government assignment. She has family in France and has spent time in Vermont. “All of that is woven into the fabric of what I do.”
When she’s designing, Villedrouin thinks about the wearer as someone who will buy the piece because it speaks to her. She says,”There are so many different reasons women buy jewelry.” Maybe one woman will buy earrings or a cuff bracelet because it makes them feel strong — a kind of armor. Another will purchase a ring in a vibrant blue to remind her of a vacation she loved.
“My jewelry is fine without being fussy, says Villedrouin. They’re not pieces that fit in the category of precious; no pave diamonds. I use cabochons and old techniques.” Her jewelry is not set in any time period. “They could have been found in a treasure chest in Europe.”
One of her favorite pieces is the orb pendant pictured above. Made from kunzite, aquamarine and 18K gold, it “references a pocket watch, with a pink tourmaline on top that you would use for turning.” Villedrouin suggests wearing it on a long chain below the chest, the right spot for holding on to it, if you were working on solving a problem, say.
— Janet Kelly