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On the more avant garde side with CoutureLab

Posted by learntobead on March 1, 2011

On the more avant garde side with


“Avant-garde” means at the leading edge or vanguard.   It is a label associated with jewelry that is more experimental, more innovative, cutting edge, resonant.    There is something witty or unusual.    There is something that gets people talking about the pieces.

CoutureLab represents an ever-evolving stable of avant-garde jewelry artists.    These are artists that other jewelry artists and galleries talk about.     They sell to upper end clients who want to associate with the hip and new and artsy.

While you may not personally want to be “avant-garde”, an exploration of these artists’ works is a great learning experience.    You learn about color combinations, balances and proportions.   You learn about new jewelry profiles — that is, how to shape jewelry relative to a person’s body.   You learn new techniques of construction, new materials, and combinations of these things.     Viewing the works of these kinds of jewelry artists is a great way to stimulate new ideas within your own work.

It is also useful to explore some more of the “details.”   Visit the CoutureLab website, and look at the prices for the artists’ works.    In your mind, determine how the price might relate to the amount of work and the cost of materials.   How much of the price might relate to the artists’ reputation?   In some cases, there seems to be a good match between price and object.   In other cases, some prices are rather low, and you wonder how the artist can make a living selling jewelry.    In the CoutureLab website, very few pieces, to me, seem over-priced.

Another good research -exploration is to examine the jewelry artist’s website.  How is it organized?   Is there an excessive use of black backgrounds and flash-utilities (allows movement, almost like watching a slide show or movie)?   A black background makes the text hard to read.   Flash looks fantastic, but the average customer’s computer often locks up, because of flash utilities.   Is the information organized well?   How about the navigation within the site?    Do the images sufficiently convey the details about the pieces?    How distinctive and memorable is the website?

Also do a Google search on the artists name.    Ideally, you would want the artist’s website to be at the top of the search list.    When it doesn’t appear at or very near the top, you need to wonder about the artist and their long term survival.

Here are some of my favorite artists currently represented by CoutureLab.


Alexis Mabille

COUTURELAB: “A graduate from the houses of Ungaro, Ricci and Dior, the couturier fuses his playful imagination and technical affinity to create a joyful and dynamic universe.  … What adventures will you attract in Alexis’s “Black Mischief” art-deco style necklace? Faceted black crystals – precisely graded in size – hang in delicate suspension, catching the light with your every move. Emerald and round-cut crystals, claw-set in lustrous white metal, form the complementing cluster at the top of the pendant; a silvery hoop with ornate hook clasp secures the piece around your neck.

Black Mischief Necklace by Alexis Mabille


Ann Demeulemeester

COUTURELAB: “As part of the Antwerp Six Anne Demeulemeester was responsible for creating a radical new vision for fashion in the 1980’s. The strong sense of innovation and creativity inherent in her work means her designs still look fresh and has a strong sense of appeal in current times.  …With this silver plates bracelet, Demeulemeester has taken simple polished silver rectangles and worked them in to a stunning piece which fuses armour and accessories, the silver plates have a brushed surface which has a subtly shiny finish. Each plate has a fluted edge linked by small polished silver circles and the bracelet fastens with an innovative clasp where one plate slots through another and is secured with an oversize clasp.”

Silver Plates Bracelet by Ann Demeulemeester

Bea Valdes

COUTURELAB: “For Bea Valdes, each piece is an exploration and the material her muse – the sway of glass drops, the sheen and shine of metals, ribbon’s sensual embrace. Hand-made in the designer’s native Philippines, these painstakingly conceived and executed compositions stand testament to her philosophy of ‘Just one bead at a time’.   …A beautiful combination of grey, green and beige beads and crystals, Bea’s “Hannibal” Necklace adds luxurious glamor to your outfit. Beige enamel drops and a beautifully carved olive-green skull lie between the dazzling oval and pear-shaped crystals in shades of green and grey. The necklace is edged with tiny beads to ensure a dynamic display against your skin or outfit. A chain of brass-effect links closes the circle. Use the extender section to adjust the necklace’s length, then secure with the lobster-claw clasp. For a comfortable fit, the whole main assembly is backed with fabric-covered padding; flexible construction contours the design closely to your body. ”

Hannibal Necklace by Bea Valdes

COUTURELAB: “Select Bea’s asymmetrical Green “Sprawl” Necklace for its avant-garde charisma. Dazzling beads and crystals in shades of green and gold – round-cut, pear-shaped and tubular – group to form clusters connected through metal chains in brass-effect. Pear-shaped crystals hang suspended from the cluster. A chain of metal links closes the circle. Use the extender section to adjust the necklace’s length, then secure with the lobster-claw clasp. For a comfortable fit, the whole main assembly is backed with fabric-covered padding; flexible construction contours the design closely to your body.”

Green Sprawl Necklace by Bea Valdes


Christian Lacroix


COUTURELAB: “A beautiful display of subtle jewels and antique golds, this piece is mesmerizing. Featuring a rustic, sculpted finish, the gilded chain pendant is encrusted with amber-colored gems. Christian Lacroix gives equal value to his accessories and jewelry line: “I give a lot of care and attention to shoes, bags and jewelry because they define a posture, an overall look – they are as important to me as clothes”. It is this attention to detail that makes each one of his pieces, whether large or small, a handcrafted work of art.”

Antique Golden Necklace by Christian Lacroix

COUTURELAB: “Truly unique, this golden bejeweled piece is mesmerizing. Sculpted to a rustic finish with a chunky chain necklace, the gilded keepsake pendant is encrusted with amber-colored gems and stones and adorned with draping delicate chains.”

Keepsake Necklace by Christian Lacroix

Delfina Delettrez

COUTURELAB: “Italian designer Delfina Delettrez is renowned for her skill in melding unusual and exotic materials, to create character pieces full of charm. Infused with romance and the macabre, these pieces reflect your strength of personality and stylish wit.  Delfina’s Brown Wudu Necklace has a raw tribal quality to its design. Set on a rich black leather necklace is a woven bib section containing rows of grinning skulls carved from sumptuous silver and glossy bone with fringed soft suede tassels. The unique materials complement each other and create this edgy statement piece which will add a strong accent to the simplest of outfits.”

Brown Wudu Necklace by Delfina Delettrez


COUTURELAB:   “With these Orgy earrings she has created a range of sensual statement pieces guaranteed to be a talking point. Wear Delfina Delettrez’s Orgy Earrings for their bold statement. Each piece is carved from exquisite silver, featuring the couple in a different position. Combined with the risqué motifs, these stunning earrings create a heady mix of Kama Sutra and couture, making them extremely covetable.”

Orgy Earrings by Delfina Delettrez


Eileen Coyne

COUTURELAB: “Mesmerizing reflections and refractions, colorways and constructions, surfaces and textures – these are the raw materials for Eileen Coyne’s alchemy. From her London atelier, the designer creates jewelry, kaftans and precious-skin belts inspired by the aesthetics of ethnic peoples around the world. Make the primal charisma of Eileen’s agate and boar’s tusk necklace your own. Spherical and egg-shaped agate beads array with carved and contoured pillars of blackened silver to form seven interwoven ropes. At one end, these are fixed to an arc of boar’s tusk, its exquisitely grained surface festooned with textured silver. At the other end, the ropes attach to a rough-hewn silver ingot which hooks onto the tusk to close the circle around your neck.”

Agate & Boars Tusk Necklace by Eileen Coyne

Erickson Beamon

COUTURELAB: “Erickson Beamon’s eclectic take on costume jewelry makes their pieces a must have for the fashion cognoscenti. They effortlessly mix materials to create stunning statement pieces which enhance any outfit. Their designs reference everything from current style to Bedouin souks ensuring each has a rich individual charm.  Choose Erickson Beamon’s eye-catching Gold Body Harness for its striking allure. The chain of plated base metal links is beautifully crafted to wrap delicately around your body, adding instant charisma to your look. The antique gold effect adds a luxurious shine and makes this an extremely covetable piece.”

Gold Body Harness by Erickson Beamon

Fernando Jorge

COUTURELAB: “Taking inspiration from the rich and varied concepts of body, gender and sexuality found in the culture of his home country, Brazilian-born Fernando Jorge exploits the blurry crossover between stereotypes and identity. His designs focus on Brazil’s association with sensuality, perpetuated through ‘the foreign eye’, the one that registers only what is different. The results are his elegant and ambiguously provocative pieces, translating the latent sensuality associated with his vibrant country.  Add sensuality and luster to your look with Fernando Jorge’s Fluid Neckpiece. The fluid 18 carat yellow gold chains delicately drape around six bespoke milky quartz in stunning asymmetry. This neckpiece beautifully sprawls over your body with its exquisite long gold chains.”

Fluid Necklace by Fernando Jorge


Lotus Arts De Vivre

COUTURELAB: “Into your life, Lotus Arts de Vivre brings objects of outlandish beauty inspired by the flora, fauna and legends of south-east Asia. Rather than mass produced to meet a pre-prepared design, each piece is hand-crafted in Thailand to observe and enhance the unique forms and traits of the natural materials that comprise it. Fabulous sea shells and coral, rare animal skins, hulks of ancient wood, jungle seed pods, precious and semi-precious gems – no two examples exactly alike – are honed and combined to make jewelry, accessories and home-wares beyond compare. Machine working is minimal. Instead, teams of artisans deploy traditional decorative skills – all but extinct beyond the region – to invest each creation with timeless fascination and eternal value.   Wrap your wrist in the electrifying embrace of Lotus Arts de Vivre’s dragon bracelet. Sections of precious ebony wood, and silver rings plated with radiant 9K rose gold and encrusted with rubies, interface to form this spectacular circuit; silver is hand carved and coated with gold to form the fantastical creature’s head. Elastic wire, invisibly threaded through the centre of the piece, allows it to flex for an exact and comfortable fit.”

Dragon Bracelet by Lotus Arts De Vivre



Vicente Gracia

COUTURELAB: “Own for yourself the transcendent charisma of jewels by Spain’s Vicente Gracia. Through his work, this multi-award winning designer seeks to re-engender the original symbolic meanings of gemstones as a bridge to the divine. Vicente’s native city, Valencia – its ancient traditions, myths and environs – and metaphysical sources, including sacred literature and symbolic art, are his inspirations. Ranked by Vogue as one of the world’s 20 most prestigious jewellers, Vicente conjures investment pieces that radiate an exquisite joy. Each of his creations for CoutureLab is a unique one-off.   Vicente’s “Ascenso Celestial” (“Heavenly Ascent”) necklace is set to guild you with a unique charisma. Coursing your collar is a dense and flexing mesh of fine silver links gathered at each end into shimmering cups. Across this lattice, four fantastical birds are exquisitely carved from sterling silver, embellished with rose, black and white enamel, and pave-set with sparkling diamond accents. Scattered across and trailing beneath are ribbons of feathers carved from 24K, 18K and 9K gold and silver, each textured section fluidly linked to the next to conjure a multi-toned play of light. A blackened silver chain with simple hook clasp completes the sublime effect. ”

Ascenso Celestial Necklace by Vicente Gracia



COUTURELAB: “Walid’s accessories combine his extensive fashion knowledge and love of history with the best in vintage and unusual materials. This wonderful statement necklace combines antique gold fringing, with dark wooden beads and sparkling citrine teardrops. The result is a heady mix of rich gold colours and textures which will inject some statement style into any outfit. the ingenious combination of vintage materials and modern design give this piece a timeless quality and make it one to treasure.”

Chunky Citrine Necklace by Walid


COUTURELAB: “A fabulous arrangement of antique gold passementerie, antique carved wooden beads and faceted tiger’s eye teardrops make this necklace a truly unique piece. Hand finished it fastens with a mother of pearl and Swarovski encrusted box clasp.”

Chunky Tiger's Eye Necklace by Walid


COUTURELAB: ” Inspired by antique garments, interiors and art, the designer produces one-off pieces that evoke the past while electrifying the present. Let Walid’s Silver and Gold Lattice necklace swathe you in its scintillating embrace. White-metal curb chains, backed with fabric for a comfortable fit, form the vertical supports for strings of faceted and globular beads and rope-style links. Coursing your body in a series of scintillating silvery and golden crescents, these converge above your navel to sculptural effect. To put the piece on, simply slip your arms into the armholes and tie the waist chain behind your back.”

Silver & Gold Lattice Necklace by Walid


COUTURELAB: “Project beauty and mystery in Walid’s “Sanctum” necklace. A broad satin band encrusted with 19th-century gunmetal beads wraps comfortably around your neck. Joining the ends are fascinating perforated crochet ribbons, from which chains of smoky metallic beads cascade low over your body, catching the light with your every movement.   Formed only from vintage materials, this piece may contain signs of age or wear. These are to be seen as unique memorials rather than flaws.”


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