The history of Les Néréides starts from a little shop in Nice, on the French Riviera in the 1980s, where founders Pascale and Enzo Amaddeo, a couple in life and in business, began to create imaginative costume jewellery. From there, with hard work and creativity, they not only have established a family business, but they have also managed to transform Les Néréides in the successful brand that it is today, without losing its personal and hand-crafted dimension.
Inspired by the everyday life, fairy tales and nature, the collections are colourful, magical and easy to wear. At the same time, being made and painted by hand and featuring the most refined materials from around the world, the pieces are little work of art that can be treasured and collected. WE have met Pascale for a chat about jewellery, fairy tales and working side by side with your family.
Before the opening of your first shop in Nice you studied photography. How much does photography influence your designs? How did you learn to design jewellery?
I come from an artistic family, where everyone is or has been a painter. I think that growing up in such a creative environment has led me to develop my artistic side. My dad was also a photographer and photography still hugely influences my design in the fact that I approach the creative process in the same way a photographer does: I try to catch the moment. However, in my field, once you grab your inspiration, you have to translate it into something as concrete as a piece of jewellery.
Could you share with us one of your first significant memories about jewellery?
One of my favourite memories is sneaking into my mother’s room to look at her jewellery box. I used to take out all the pieces of jewellery and lay them on her bed. Then, I would spent hours looking at all those shiny treasures.
You have started your business in the 1980s, more than thirty years ago. Has your attitude towards jewellery changed in these years? How?
To me, costume jewellery used to be only an accessory to make women beautiful. Now, it has a symbolic and affective dimension. With Les Néréides, I want to translate my personal vision of the everyday into pieces of jewellery women can emotionally relate to.
Where do you find the inspiration for your designs?
Inspiration comes from everything, everywhere. The idea for a collection can spring from a walk in the countryside or while browsing a vintage market, watching a film or admiring an artist’s work. There is no limit to what your eyes can see and everything you see can be translated into jewellery.
Is there a jewellery designer you particularly admire?
Les Néréides is a family business and family values appear to be very important for you, with a whole collection dedicated to them, Les Sentiments. Which are the benefits and disadvantages of working so close to your family?
Well, the most important benefit is that every time an idea or a project pops into your mind it’s very natural to share it and discuss it with the others. Since everyone shares the same background, it’s easy for us to instantly understand each other. The biggest disadvantage is that, sometimes, it’s difficult not to talk about business during family reunions.
Is there a collection or a piece you created that you are particularly attached to?
I’m really proud of the Pas de Deux collection, which is completely dedicated to the wonderful world of ballet, with little dancing ballerinas used as charms. We have been producing this collection for eight years now, and it has become one of our permanent collections.
Some of Les Néréides jewellery is inspired by fairy tales. Could you tell us which was your favourite fairy tale?
My favourite fairy tale still is Little Red Riding Hood. I think this story is one of the most fascinating of all times and it has always inspired me visually.
Could you tell us a bit more about the artistic and technical process that underpin the creation of your jewellery?
At Les Néréides we want to create jewellery in the same way it is usually crafted in a joailerie. Starting from an idea or a particular atmosphere, we create a drawing for the piece. Then, we enamel by hand the natural and vegetal forms we want to feature. Every single piece is unique, carefully hand-made by an expert artisan.
What does wearing jewellery mean to you?
For me wearing jewellery is like wearing an affective story every day on the skin. I care about what piece of jewellery I am wearing and I usually stick to one or two pieces for almost one entire season.
What advice would you give to a young jewellery designer?
I would say that to make the perfect collection you have to use your instinct, taste and creativity, but you also have to understand your consumers’ needs.