If you read my Best Jewelry of 2017 recap, you know that I left last year’s AGTA Spectrum Awards editor event with a special fondness for a certain brooch. The design was right up my alley—I loved the whimsy of it, the bunny’s droll expression, and how it brought some levity, and a touch of impishness, to this gathering of so much Very Serious gemstone jewelry.
Lapin pendant/brooch with gemstones and diamonds in 18k yellow gold and white rhodium accents, price on request; Rémy Rotenier
With Easter coming up this weekend, I find my thoughts drifting to Mr. Bunny again, so I connected with his creator, Rémy Rotenier, one of our industry’s most prolific and nimble talents, to find out more about it.
“This was created as a fantasy piece to welcome Easter on social media,” Rotenier says. “He is clasping the carrot with a smile on his face, as if he’s ‘got it all’, and the day couldn’t be any better. The thought behind it was gratitude, joy, and celebration of the season.”
The design first began as a sketch and then blossomed into a full-color rendering (pictured at top). “Freehand rendering is my passion,” says Rotenier, who trained as jewelry designer in Paris. “I’m very old school. In Paris you could train for only one of the professions: stone-cutting, stone-setting, bench jeweler, model maker, or, as I chose, designer. I was in art school before I entered the jewelry trade. At 19 years old I was considered too old to start formal training at the bench. That was fine with me because I was most interested in the drawing and designing of ideas.”
Before the brooch, which also doubles as a pendant, went into production, Rotenier first had to gather gemstones in the right sizes and colors. “I have to be sure I can find what I need before we start on the sculpting,” he says. In this case the designer’s vision required pink sapphires for the inside of the rabbit’s ears, a blue sapphire cabochon for his eye and 0.22 ct. of diamonds for his jawline. Citrines and tsavorites were used for the carrot.
Rotenier is well-known for his popular Bella Luce line, and we recently reported on his new men’s jewelry collection for Nambé. Between these, one-of-a-kind pieces, and his private-label commissions, the designer estimates that he generates around 3,000 designs a year. Of course, not all go into production. “For every finished design, there may be at least four or five designs that didn’t pass muster and don’t have a life beyond my sketchbooks or scrap paper,” says Rotenier. “But every piece is designed with the same amount of care and consideration, whether it’s created as part of a commercial line or a one-of-a-kind piece.”
Like Mr. Bunny. Who occasionally gets to accompany Rotenier on his adventures—keep an eye out!
Rémy Rotenier models the Lapin brooch while on holiday in France.
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