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When she was a child, Marie-Hélène de Taillac decided to create an imaginary scene from “A Thousand and One Nights” by draping her large bed with plush fabrics and an array of props including crowns and gilded tiaras, bracelets and rings set with sparkling gemstones.
Her imagination was no doubt sparked by frequent travels between a family château in the Gers, the Queen Zenobia hotel in Palmyra, Syria, the souks of Beirut, Italian villas on the Libyan coast and wherever work took her father.
At 18, Marie-Hélène swapped Paris for London, first working as a sales assistant, and then a PR for the celebrated Butler & Wilson store. Later, she would become a managing director of the Dinny Hall brand, assistant to the haute couture designer Victor Edelstein and collection director for milliner Philip Treacy.
In 1995, she decided that change was in order. Fuelled by a desire to travel she set off on an open-ended tour of Asia where she delighted in discovering precious gemstones in Burma, Thailand and India. On her return to Paris a year later, she launched her eponymous jewellery brand and today, travels between a studio there and an atelier in Jaipur where each stone – radiant spinels, green topaz, fire opals… is cut by some of the finest stone cutters in the world.
Archaeology books are a great source of inspiration for the jewellery designer, especially old tomes featuring photos of bracelets, necklaces and rings discovered in the ancient world.
In each piece she creates, simple designs always offset the stones. Only after they have been cut does she then decide how best to frame each rubellite, quartz or aquamarine, in 22k gold. “When I design I try to have fun” says Marie-Hélène of her creative process. “Life is short, we have to enjoy it and jewellery is one of life’s great pleasures” she adds.