From Mine to Store: Lydia Courteille’s Crocodile Cuff



“My animals are bad, really bad—like in real life,” says Parisian designer Lydia Courteille, who ­created this jaw-dropping cuff in homage to two legendary predators. Part of the maison’s Bestiary line of animal-motif pieces, the one-of-a-kind bracelet depicts a diamond-covered snake about to meet his end at the deathly bite of a tsavorite-topped croc. “In my collection, I don’t like things to be always politically correct,” says Courteille, who considers a glimmer of grittiness signature to her work. “I like to show that there is no pity in nature, as in our society.” A lifelong traveler, Courteille gleaned inspiration for the jewel from trips to the Amazon. “I like my clients to travel through my pieces,” she says. “It’s easy to make elegant jewelry out of animals because they’re very graphic. And they tell stories that I love.”

Group Effort

Thirty-one cts. t.w. tsavorites, 1.83 cts. t.w. white and brown diamonds, and 40 cts. t.w. Paraiba tourmalines make up this beastly 18k gold creation. Four specialized workshops in Paris brought it to life, with some 50 artisans lending their handiwork or expertise. “My jewelry is a result of teamwork,” says the designer.

Labor of Love

Courteille conceived the cuff more than two years ago; it then took a year to produce. “That’s because I don’t just have one piece to do—I put out 100 pieces every six months,” she explains. “You can’t mold one-of-a-kind pieces. Every item is a new adventure.”

Sticker Shy

The cuff is on view (and for sale) at Courteille’s shop in Paris, but the designer declined to name a price. “It makes me uncomfortable,” she says. “I’m proud to sell such upscale items, but I can be a bit [shy] about it. Is that stupid? I don’t know!”

Late Bloomer

Courteille started her line in 2002, after working as an antique jewelry dealer specializing in 18th-century finds for more than 30 years. “Jewelry is a very small world, so I kept seeing the same things over and over,” she says. She still, however, deals in antique pieces as part of her collection.