Certain books have characters that not only charm the reader but leave a long-term impact. For jewelry designer Serena Van Rensselaer, one such character is Le Petit Prince, and she hopes her latest collection, which is inspired by the beloved French book of the same name, will resonate with her fellow fans and jewelry lovers alike.
For the Le Petit Prince x Serena Van Rensselaer Jewelry collection, the designer collaborated with the Société de Gestion et d’Exploitation des Droits Dérivés de l’Œuvre d’Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (SOGEX), the licensor for all rights in and to Le Petit Prince®, to launch a handcrafted jewelry collection inspired by the book’s artwork, created by author and illustrator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
The collection’s premiere line, called Étoile, showcases the book’s signature star shape in various earrings and pendants crafted in silver, gold, and gold with diamonds. The follow-up line, which will be available this winter, will expand the Étoile designs into cufflinks and rings and add three pendants featuring classic quotes from Le Petit Prince.
The Le Petit Prince x Serena Van Rensselaer Jewelry collection is a long-term collaboration, and additional designs will be introduced every few months, Van Rensselaer says. Hint: The next set of items might include that particularly memorable elephant. Her goal for the boutique collection is not only to highlight it on her website, but also to find wholesale opportunities for it.
“I hope it will become something timeless—something for collectors,” Van Rensselaer says.
Le Petit Prince—which has sold more than 200 million copies worldwide since its publication in 1943—resonates across generations, Van Rensselaer says. To date, the book has reached more than 400 million readers globally with more than 400 translations, making it one of the world’s most translated books and a true cultural phenomenon.
The Brooklyn-based jewelry designer says she first encountered the book in her seventh-grade French class. Even then, she was thinking about potential jewelry creations as she made sketches of the artwork within the story while she was in her 20s. Van Rensselaer still has those original drawings, and she used some of them for this current collection.
She revisited her sketches about a year ago, and a friend, Mathew Kraus of Shahid/Kraus & Company, suggested she reach out to the SOGEX to see if it was interested in licensing her work. Her friend found the contact email for licensing requests, Van Rensselaer says, so she felt she had to at least ask. She sent the email on a Saturday morning, moving so quickly, before her nerves got the best of her, that she forgot to attach her designs or website.
“The story stuck with me for years. It still strikes me so deeply. I’ve read it dozens of times,” Van Rensselaer says. “I said in my email how much I love the book and how much it inspired me.… What was so strange was the owner of the company emailed me back on a Sunday. She had found my website. I was incredibly touched and honored.”
Some Zoom conversations and continued discussions later, Van Rensselaer became a licensee for North America. She says the experience was “magical” and is excited to work on future designs as well—let’s just say she has stars in her eyes and across her notebooks.
What is also inspiring is the way this collection will help others, Van Rensselaer says. SOGEX asked her to designate a charitable partner, so a portion of all sales from the Le Petit Prince x Serena Van Rensselaer Jewelry collection will go to Read Alliance.
The New York–based organization works to accelerate the educational trajectory of early elementary students in under-resourced communities by connecting them with teenagers who can provide one-on-one literacy tutoring. As an educator—Van Rensselaer teaches jewelry design at the New York Institute of Art and Design—her heart was drawn to the group’s devotion to educational equity and youth leadership.
“It feels good to work with [Read Alliance] and contribute to its mission,” Van Rensselaer says, especially with this book-inspired collection.
Top: The Le Petit Prince collection pendant comes on a 30-inch snake chain that can be worn long or doubled to be worn at choker length. A mini star is attached to the clasp, giving the back of the piece a special touch. (All photos courtesy of Serena Van Rensselaer)Follow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
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