When Delphine Leymarie moved to the United States from France 15 years ago (she originally hails from Montpellier, but later moved to Grenoble, where she earned her degree at the business school), she did so to obtain a Master’s of Business Administration degree to supplement her undergraduate studies. Always an admirer of jewelry, Leymarie finally decided to give in to her desire for a creative outlet, and “took classes for two years at the 92nd street Y in Manhattan where I first trained in metalsmithing, enameling, and chain making,” she tells JCK. “But really, I found my medium once I started learning wax carving as it better suited my love of volumes and sculptural shapes. I have not stopped hand-sculpting jewelry since.”
That was eight years ago. In the summer of 2011 she launched her eponymous line of everyday luxury pieces.
Editor’s Note: Delphine Leymarie’s work is being profiled for its bold simplicity. Sculpted metal forms large and small have a high polish, serving as miniature sculptures. The aesthetic of Leymarie’s work reminds me of styles from Somers Jewelry, Patricia von Musulin, and to an extent, Robert Lee Morris.
Jewelry designer Delphine Leymarie
JCK: Describe your signature style.
Delphine Leymarie: My style aims to strike the delicate balance between feminine and organic while retaining a certain heft and substance. I want my jewelry to be an indulgence you wear everyday. It is handcrafted and modern, and it favors a simplicity and purity of line and volumes inspired by both the beauty of the organic world and shapes of urban architecture. While the design influences are diverse, they merge easily into one shared sensibility, enabling the pieces across collections to be worn together.
JCK: Explain your design process.
DL: I love to experiment. I design and hand carve all the original pieces in my studio. My design process is quite spontaneous, unencumbered by formal training, and once I can clearly visualize a piece in my mind, there is nothing I love more than sculpting jeweler’s wax to make it come to life. I then have the waxes professionally cast in Manhattan in reclaimed 18k gold and low tarnish sterling silver. I have a polisher who is based in Manhattan I love to work with on specific pieces and finish others myself.
JCK: Do you make all your own findings and components, such as chain and clasps?
DL: Not at the moment, although I am working on a link component for chains and bracelets for the 2012 collection.
JCK: Is your jewelry cast or fabricated?
DL: Mainly cast from my hand-sculpted original pieces. Some designs I am currently developing require a mix of both.
JCK: Where is the jewelry made?
DL: All the jewelry is made in New York City
JCK: What metals do you work in?
DL: My collection is available in reclaimed 18k yellow and rose gold and low tarnish sterling silver. I love that I am able to offer my customer sustainable, recycled gold. I also work with white gold and platinum upon request.
JCK: What stones do you work with and why?
DL: My first collection did not feature stones. Instead, I designed Facets, a sparkling collection of all-metal jewels, an abstract play on the shapes of cut stones. But I love stones, and am incorporating them into my designs for 2012. I am very mindful of the source of my stones and am looking to include conflict-free diamonds and semi-precious cabochons.
JCK: How many accounts do you have?
DL: Two in the U.S., including Elegant Slumming in Rehoboth Beach, Del., and Stone Zone in Miami, and The Artworks in Alberta, Canada.
JCK: What jewelry shows do you exhibit in?
DL: Jewelers of America New York Winter and Summer editions, and the New York International Gift Fair
JCK: Have you received or been nominated for any jewelry design awards during your career?
DL: Not yet! I am taking part in JCK Jewelers’ Choice Awards in the Gold category (under $2.500) but that is not the same as being nominated since I submitted my pieces myself. I am proud to have been awarded Best Booth Design for a New Exhibitor at the recent JA NY summer show, my first trade show and launch, but that is a reward for my branding effort more than my jewelry.
JCK: What is your starting retail price for each metal you work in?
DL: In silver, prices start at $130 and in 18k gold they start at $900. Using both precious metals enables me to offer a wide range of price points. Everyone deserves a little luxe indulgence.
JCK: Tell us something few people know about you.
DL: I am a trained dancer and still take several dance classes per week. I am trained in ballet, modern dance, street and latin jazz, lyrical dance and hip hop, and still practice all of these styles on a weekly basis with different amazing teachers in Manhattan. Dance is my first passion, I took my very first class when I was four years old and don’t imagine stopping one day. Its physicality is a very good complement to the needed stillness of sitting at my bench to create jewelry.