Les Néréides begins with a love story.
Pascale and Enzo met as teenagers at the Academy des Beaux-Arts. She was from three generations of artists; he was from a large Italian family. Young and in love, the couple married, moved to Nice and founded Les Néréides in 1980. Three decades later, Les Néréides is a poetic, a quintessentially French brand that honors storytelling, style, and craftsmanship – just as the idealistic designers imagined it would be many years ago.
Today, we invite you to take a behind-the-scenes peek at their unique design
process and the source of their unending inspiration.
OuiPlease: Did Pascale and Enzo study jewelry design at the Academy des Beaux-Arts? If not, how did they discover jewelry design?
Les Néréides: It was love at first sight for Pascale and Enzo, when they studied photography (not jewelry design) at the Academy des Beaux-Arts. Pascale was from three generations of artists. Enzo had grown-up in the heart of a large Italian anti-conformist family. It was the fusion of two universes. Pascale has always loved jewels: from the age of 14 she was wearing her mum’s jewels. One creation led to another, one by one, they started to make their own jewelry.
OP: How would you describe the style of the Les Néréides collection? How has it changed over the years?
LN: The style of Les Néréides collections is romantic, poetic, calls to memories. It is hyper-feminine, the brand is always deeply aware of the details. The collection plan is quite similar over seasons since our customers have specific theme expectations, such as flowers and animals. Through organic, vegetal shapes, Les Néréides transports women to a dream world. Everything is carefully designed: is the right flower adapted to the right season, is the right animal in the right environment?
The style has become more structured over the years. First, we were using numerous materials; today we have a very good knowledge of our customers to create a unique jewel adapted to each one of them. We can say that we have come to the supremacy of the jewel Les Néréides today.
OP: Where do you gain inspiration?
LN: The wild and fanciful universe of Les Néréides has always found its inspiration in traveling. The two designers, Pascale and her son Pier-Paolo, bring back treasures from every one of their journeys. Old dolls, night lights, statues, vintage jewelry, paintings, anything that evokes memory with emotional value.
All of our collections have a rich symbolism. Trésors de Pondichéry (Treasures of Pondicherry) for example is reminiscent of the designers’ trip to India. The collection has beautiful creole earrings symbolizing the Nine Deified Planets from Indian mythology. Clarté Nocture (In the Moonlight) has snow owls and eagle owls, which are symbols of good fortune. As for Jardin d’Hiver (Winter Garden), this is a collection that pays tribute to a famous female scientist who dedicated her life to botany. With each Les Néréides collection, there is always a story, a souvenir, an emotion.
OP: What is the process of creating a piece for the collection?
LN: At Les Néréides, we do not work on a single piece but on a collection as a whole. We create an entire history. The narrative stretches from the biggest necklace to the smallest earring. Throughout the collection, all of the details are carefully tended to. Every piece of jewelry is handmade, an artisanal creation. For our biggest necklaces, it takes over one hour just to hand-paint and hand-enamel only – that doesn’t even count the time spent creating the mold, pouring the wax and assembling the pieces.
OP: How does Les Néréides represent, interpret or complement classic French style?
LN: Les Néréides is not a classic brand, it is an original brand. Even though we do not see ourselves as “classic French” in style, we care about artisanal craftsmanship and know-how just as French couture houses do. Prioritizing this know-how brings French style into the Les Néréides world.
OP: What kind of woman does Les Néréides design for? Do you see any commonality between customers, or do they vary?
LN: Our customers are very different from one to another. As we have a wide range of collections, and each woman finds herself in one of them. There is one thing that Les Néréides women have in common; that is their sensibility, their romance, their love of nature, their originality and their attention to detail. They choose the jewelry they wear with emotion and reverence.