Among the big jewellery brands that showcase their collections in Paris during Spring Couture Week, there are also a number of independent designers who present their new works. One such remarkable jeweller is Paris-based Lydia Courteille, who, as of late, says she has been busy seeking out inspiration from the past.
The Amber Room
Last year, her collection had Marie Antoinette as the muse with the jewels exploring the infamous queen’s dark side. A deep fascination for history, the lives of queens, as well as “powerful women and their love story” has now prompted Courteille to delve into 18th century Imperial Russia and the grand life of Empress Catherine.
“l heard about the Amber Room, and last year I visited the palace in winter. The place is beautiful and romantic; there was plenty of snow all around – the most impressive room was definitely the Amber Room; it was like a mirage,” she recalls.
This most recent collection, Chambre d’Ambre (The Amber Chamber), is Courteille’s artistic take with a strong mix of symbolism and colour – all inspired by her visit to the Palace of Tsarskoe Selo, near Saint Petersburg. Channeling inspirations from the empress’ amber chambers, the jewels in a riot of colour are realised in bright stones.
The ‘Amber Room’ was originally installed at Charlottenburg Palace, home of Friedrich I, the first King of Prussia and was designed by German baroque sculptor Andreas Schlüter and constructed by the Danish amber craftsman Gottfried Wolfram. Sadly, the Nazis looted it during World War II and the amber panels that had been packed away in crates disappeared. The new Amber Room was then reconstructed in 1979 at Tsarskoye Selo and was completed 25 years later.
La Chambre d’Ambre necklace
Now, you know why Courteille was so inspired by the chamber, its extravagance and grandeur. and incorporated elements – angels, wings, bows and scrolls – typical of the Imperial era, to embellish the jewellery. “All the motifs in this collection are inspired by what l saw in the Amber Room, except the monkey seen in the necklace – that is a nod to 18th century French art,” she explains.
The colour palette of the amber panels in the reconstructed palace is reimagined with fire opals, citrines, red jaspers, yellow sapphires, orange garnets, and chalcedony. “I am not crazy about, amber but l love the colour! The warm tones and gradients… So l found my way around exploring different stones in palettes of bright and similar colours.”
La Chambre d’Ambre ring
La Chambre d’Ambre Girandole earrings
The statement necklace is the standout piece in a cascade of amber-hued gems – and inset in the centre, surrounded by feathered scrolls, lies a gorgeous piece of a micro-mosaic castle. “This mosaic comes from an early 19th century bracelet,” she divulges. Besides the necklace, the key pieces unveiled in Paris includes two pairs of earrings and a ring, with the pair of girandole and chandelier earrings envisioned in a mismatched style. “Girandoles are typical of the 18th century and for all my different collections since the last 12 years, I have designed mismatched earrings so that l can play with different stones and ensure each pair is unique.” The earrings feature the monogram RF on the gemstone, which stands for ‘Roi Frederic The First,’ who is said to have come up with the idea of the Amber Room.”
The Chambre d’Ambre collection, when completed, will be comprised of 12 pieces, says the designer. For now, keep your eyes peeled!