On May 19th, for the first time in over a year, I put on a pair of high heels. Then I got in my car and set off for an in-person business meeting (the first since I’ve been vaccinated). About an hour later, after a few scenic detours around the heavy traffic on I-95, I was in Norwalk, Connecticut, and reunited with Barbara Ross-Innamorati, founder of the Evocateur costume jewelry line.
The line is thought to be best known for its hand-golden cuffs featuring everything from photo-realistic peonies by Japanese artist Ogawa Kazumasa to neo-Egyptian glamazons from Erté – and this riff on a popular uplifting British World War II – the thing to know about Evocative is that it is not “art scholar chic”, but rather something much higher and universally appealing. Yes, there is an Evocative line centered on Van Gogh irises that you can purchase at the Getty Center in Los Angeles, but there are also glamorous trompe-l’oeil gems and malachite swirls, and patterns of graphic art in black and white – very 60s Pierre Cardin. All of these pair well with, for example, a stack of bracelets anchored by a Cartier Love bracelet or a selection of 18k gold and diamond bracelets.
The Evocateur studio is small and intimate, just a handful, really, of all-female specialists. A specialist skillfully develops original prints, or designs those that already exist, so that the motif thus lands on the various Evocateur silhouettes, which include not only bracelets, but also earrings, necklaces, rings and charms. Another specialist carefully transfers the prints by cutting, then colors them by hand to achieve the most accurate representation.
A single gilder is personally responsible for the hand application of the details of the 22k gold leaf, a crisp border on a cuff here, a handful of stamped spots there.
I have observed that the gold leaf part of the production process requires the utmost precision and skill. A steady hand is key, as is the frequent application of a hand moisturizer (this one – they’ve tried a bunch of them and this is the one that works best!).
Other things I discovered during my visit: The temperature of the studio should be controlled to ensure that every step of the production is carried out under uniform climatic conditions. Custom designs for various stores are a huge part of the business (see the vintage-themed Martha’s Vineyard headline for New England Island’s premier jeweler CB Stark in the collage above); ditto special orders for customers with photos of pets and grandchildren. And a live sample of each design series is archived in a pristine set of crisp white low-slung drawers along one studio wall.
I could have spent hours looking at the treasures there, but of course I wanted to preview some of the new pieces Ross-Innamorati would have on hand at JCK Las Vegas. Below are the highlights of the fall lineup. I like to imagine them in a setting mixed with more opulent, more avant-garde and more expensive jewelry and the conversations they could spark.
Top: Evocateur’s Caravan cuff (top), with a motif inspired by Moroccan textiles, and Boho Blue cuff, $ 378 each, are among new fall styles that will premiere at JCK Las Vegas.
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