Today I have an interview with Melanie of Belle Bijou Atelier. Her shop is full of gorgeous and lush gemstone creations and I completely love it all, including her tagline!
"Belle Bijou Atelier: Beautiful Jewelry For Beautiful Women."
Melanie: Jewelry designer, writer, and owner of Belle Bijou Atelier
How did you become interested in designing jewelry?
Several years ago I was shopping at what was then known as Marshall Field (now known as Macy’s) and I saw a very simple beaded necklace. I believe it was about $140 which, at the time, was completely out of my price range. As I studied the necklace, I realized that I could probably make it myself. I lived not far from a bead store that I passed by all of the time, so I stopped in, purchased some materials and went to work. Within an hour or so I completed it and it looked even better than the one in Marshall Field (I thought anyway…)!
I’ve been designing jewelry for over 15 years; however I’ve become more serious about actually selling my pieces within the past two years.
What inspires your creations?
I love color contrast! Wherever I go I gravitate toward colors. Whether it’s a bright yellow front door set against the dark brown bricks of a home in Ireland or a display of red and orange peppers in the grocery, the contrast of color really gets my creative juices flowing. I try to re-create that in my jewelry. I’ll combine Turquoise nuggets with a carved Carnelian pendant or Peridot rondels with Ruby briolettes – nothing is off limits for me!
What are your favorite materials or stones to work with?
Gemstones, gemstones, and more gemstones! I absolutely LOVE the feeling of caressing stones in my hands. I truly believe that all things hold some sort of power within them and gemstones are no exception. I’ve dabbled in Precious Metal Clay and tried my hand at creating glass beads but I get no greater joy than to sit silently at my workstation with a couple of strands of gems, feel them in my hands and allow them to tell me what they want to become.
What memories do you you have of the first piece of jewelry you created and what has been a favorite piece for you?
What I love about that first piece of jewelry that I made is the sense of accomplishment that it gave me. Not only did I make something with my own hands, people complimented me on it – what a wonderful feeling! Sadly I no longer have that necklace, (it got lost in too many moves, I guess). My favorite piece now is a bracelet created with delicate faceted Watermelon Tourmaline rounds and with Swarovski Crystal spacers strung on 14k gold filled coated wire. It has a tiny faceted Watermelon briolette hanging from the clasp. The rounds are strung on the bracelet in an Ombre effect so the stones go from pale pink, to fuchsia to dark green, much like a watermelon slice. I only had one strand of these Tourmaline rounds and, after I created the bracelet, there weren’t enough to create another. I posted to sell for a few hours before taking it down and keeping it for myself. I wear it all of the time with a bracelet created with faceted Ruby rondels of graduated sizes. They look stunning together.
What other interests and hobbies do you enjoy?
I very much enjoy writing. I’ve actually started the outline for the first of a three part series of mystery novels set l in England. The heroine of the story is an American ex-pat who owns a small string of jewelry boutiques (naturally…). I hope to self-publish by the end of the year.
What is your most treasured handmade possession?
My most treasured handmade possession is not something that I created. I have a client who purchased a pair of earrings in the Spring. After she received them she emailed me to thank me. She shared that she would have liked to have ordered more, specifically one of my pieces that had a photo of the Eiffel Tower on it, but she could not afford to. For Christmas, I surprised her by sending her the piece. She was so moved that she sent me a beautiful handmade card with a lovely note written inside and a handmade linen handkerchief lined with lace. That handkerchief means so much to me. I hope to be able to pass it down to my granddaughter when she is of age.
Where can we find your beautiful jewelry designs?
You can find my designs at www.bellebijouatelier.etsy.com. I also have a Facebook page where I try to have a special or giveaway ever month www.facebook.com/bellebijouatelier .
I also have the following pages where I post regularly:
• Twitter (@bellebijoujewel)
• Pinterest (Belle Bijou Atelier)
• Instagram (bellebijouatelier)
Melanie, thank you for helping us learn more about your lovely shop!
...until next time, dear readers!
**ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF AND COPYRIGHT OF BELLE BIJOU ATELIER AND MAY NOT BE COPIED**