From the picturesque French town in Brittany where she lovingly handcrafted her Magnolia brooch, to the glitzy Couture show in Las Vegas where she won first place in the Haute Couture category, Alix Dumas has been on a breathtaking journey.
Dumas’s miniature sculpture featuring diamonds, spinels and sapphires in gold, recycled silver, and titanium is a tour de force in 12 by 10 centimeters. The French designer wanted to interpret the flower — a delicate symbol of rebirth — by using innovative technology and the techniques she’s honed over the years.
“This piece really shows the specialties of my craftsmanship, all the technique of lace that I make in metal using patterns, but in very thick layers to enhance the inherent volume of the piece,” she explains.
The designer places the spinels on the wax model. (Maison Alix Dumas)
Playing on light and textures, the jewel displays an artistic selection of colors — among them the gradient-shaded spinels from Vietnam and the larger diamond she sourced from Antwerp-based Fima Diamonds to match the rose gold. The use of anodized titanium for its coloring and weight was equally intentional. As for silver, “I love working with [the metal] because I can work with it in very thick layers,” says Dumas. “It weighs much less than gold, so I can have bigger volumes for less weight, and it blackens with diamonds.”
While her husband lent a hand to the coloring work on the titanium, the jeweler worked on all other aspects of her creation, including positioning every single gem — though she left the task of pushing the metal in to the setter.
The award-winning Magnolia brooch. (Maison Alix Dumas)
“I want the stones to be so close that there is no metal left except for only two or sometimes three beads,” she states. “It’s a very selective setting, very high-end. But this way, you really have the color come out, and the metal is almost nowhere to be seen except in the places where I want it to be seen.”
The Magnolia brooch will soon be getting a “little sister,” using gems from the same batch of stones but in a different palette. The award-winning piece contains spinels that run from pink to the first shades of purple, while the smaller jewel will range from very light pink to a deeper violet. “They will go together, but not be the same vibrancy,” Dumas says.
Working on the silver color. (Maison Alix Dumas)
Main image: Alix Dumas selecting the stones for the Magnolia brooch. (Maison Alix Dumas)