Custom Made

The Making of: La Parade Azure

Crafted 100% by hand over more than 300 hours in a tiny Parisian studio, this is 'La Parade Azure'.

It’s the crystal-clear waters of the French Riviera; the pattern of the sky on a clear summer’s day; the vibrant blue green plumage of a peacock.

What do you see in ‘La Parade Azure’?

This 18ct White Gold, Apatite, Aquamarine, Zircon, Diamond & Tahitian Pearl Necklace was designed by our talented Matthew Ely artist and jeweller, Louis. The piece took more than 300 hours to handcraft in Louis’ makeshift Paris home worshop over the course of 2020-2021.

Here’s how it all happened.

Handcrafted jewellery by Matthew Ely
Handcrafting the pendant in a minimal Paris studio

Step 1: Inspired by a Gemstone

The inspiration for La Parade Azure came from its centrepiece gemstone – a 34.3ct cushion cut apatite.

A true ‘insiders’ gem, apatite is relatively unknown to the general public but spellbinding in its beauty and highly valued amongst collectors. Derived from the Greek word 'apatao' meaning ‘to deceive’, apatite – ever the chameleon – is often mistaken for other stones, such as aquamarine, peridot, tourmaline or beryl.

“It was mid-2020, the start of Covid lockdowns, and I was working from my room in Paris. It was a very minimal workshop – functional but basic,” says Louis.

“The apatite instantly transported me back to nature. It was the colour of a peacock’s feather; a proud parade of blue.”

From here, Louis’ original sketch was born.

A white gold pendant moulded by hand
The final white gold pendant, moulded by hand

Step 2: Handcrafting the White Gold

The first step for Louis was to melt and model a solid bar of white gold into a uniquely shaped pendant, all 100% by hand from his home workshop.

This was completed in a pitch bowl, where the gold was heated with hot wax, ready to be moulded into shape.

“This image is of the white gold after it’s been hand cut. It’s really all in the detail, ensuring that each of these holes is the perfect size for our gemstones (the 34.3ct cushion cut apatitie, 5 smaller pear shaped apatite gemstones, and a series of tapered white diamonds),” says Louis.

Step 3: Painting & Drilling the Dots

Like the cobblestoned streets of a Parisian laneway, the gemstones of La Parade Azure are set close together in a patterned arrangement; a pavé design.

With the help of some plastic diamonds, Louis finalised a pattern. He then painted blue and white dots onto the handcrafted pendant so he would know where to set each individual gemstone – a series of round brilliant cut zircons, diamonds and aquamarines. This photograph was the reference point.

Once painted, each gemstone’s setting had to be drilled and cut to the perfect shape and size. This was once again done by hand, taking more than a week of precise work (and plenty of patience!) in Louis’ studio.

Sketching and handcrafting a white gold pendant
Sketching and handcrafting the 'backstage'

Step 4: Designing the 'backstage'

“The best thing about a piece of jewellery is the ‘backstage
of the piece’,” says Louis.

“This is the area behind the design, that is going to make it light enough to sit correctly, while being aesthetically pleasing from every angle.”

Louis sketched hundreds of detailed drawings and handcrafted various white gold pieces to ensure the final ‘backstage design’ of La Parade Azure would do the pendant justice.

Step 5: Soldering the Pendant

It's time for some fire! The white gold pendant was softened with a soldering iron, which allowed Louis to work on handcrafting the back; an artwork in its own right.

Crafting the diamond pendant spike

Step 6: Crafting the Pendant Spike

The next step was for Louis to handcraft the white gold & diamond ‘spike’ that would connect the pendant to its string of South Sea Pearls. The structure of this piece had to be flexible to ensure mobility of the pendant – a challenge in and of itself!

Step 7: Setting the Gemstones

It's sparkle time!

First up: setting the 34.43ct cushion cut apatite centrepiece and 6 pear shaped apatite gemstones, weighing 16.61ct.

These were followed by a series of round brilliant cut blue zircons, light blue aquamarines, and sparkling white diamonds in various shapes and sizes.

Step 8: The Tahitian Pearls

With the pendant complete, it was ready to be suspended on a strand of Tahitian pearls. Cue: steely hands and a lot of patience.

Highly valued for their unique, naturally occurring colours and lustrous surfaces, these 45 cultured pearls range in size from 7.4mm to 11.19mm.

Step 9: The Grand Finale

And here we have it – La Parade Azure! A remarkable modern artwork and
finalist at the 2021/22 Jewellers Association of Australia Awards, inspired by
nature, and handcrafted behind the bench of a tiny studio in Paris.

book an appointment

Should you be inspired by one of our bespoke pieces, please book an appointment to discuss how we can create something special, just for you.

Crafted 100% by hand over more than 300 hours in a tiny Parisian studio, this is the story of 'La Parade Azure'.