Visiting Cécile & Jeanne's workshop with Meeting the French and learning about the dove of peace pin worn by Madeleine Albright


What do Madeleine Albright, Hillary Clinton, Cécilia Sarkozy, Bernadette Chirac and Leah Rabin have in common? They all own or owned a piece of Cécile & Jeanne dove jewelry symbolizing unity, love and peace. Until Jeanne told us about the background of her company during a "Meeting the French" tour, I didn't know that former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright used pins to communicate a message or a mood during her diplomatic tenure. But that's what makes these encounters so fascinating. Not only did I learn something about my country's history, but I was also moved to hear how Jeanne felt compelled to send a dove of peace to Leah Rabin shortly after her husband, the Prime Minister of Israel, was assassinated in 1995.

As Jeanne explained, the dove started to fly solo when Leah Rabin wore the pin to Yitzack Rabin's funeral. It soared even higher when Mrs. Rabin gave a similar brooch to Secretary Albright, who wore it as a diplomatic tool whenever she gave a speech related to the Middle East. From there, it became a symbol of solidarity for women working together to bring peace to the world.

Jeanne holding the design of a dove necklace.

While many of Jeanne's designs include the company's signature dove, Jeanne said that she also draws her inspiration from the sights and sounds of Paris, a city that she obviously adores. In keeping with her philosophy that a piece of jewelry should transport a woman to another place and be more than just an ornament, Jeanne's necklaces, earrings, bracelets and pins are also sensual. When she found that one of the necklaces in her fall line was "trop sage" (too well-behaved) she added just the right touch - an offset pearl that somehow brought everything together as a harmonious whole.

While many of the pieces are handcut, others are created using a mold.

As I've mentioned in earlier posts, one of the aspects that I like the most about the "Meeting the Parisians at Work" tours is that they introduce me to highly skilled artisans who are passionate about what they do and want to share their knowledge. Jeanne's enthusiasm for her craft is contagious. I found myself looking more carefully at her designs and appreciating the craftsmanship of each piece. So much so that I now own a couple of Cécile & Jeanne pieces, including a necklace with two of the smaller doves.


Click on any of the photos to enlarge.

Starting in September 2012, Meeting the French plans to launch tours of Cécile & Jeanne's workshop located in their flagship boutique at the Viaduc des Arts. In the meantime, their creations are available in Cécile & Jeanne boutiques located throughout Paris and in the major department stores. Jeanne assured me that all of the salespeople speak English.

Shortly before the tour started, I introduced myself to an Australian couple when the woman tried on a necklace and a bracelet that I admired. As they were leaving the boutique, they said that I should be sure to mention how much they enjoyed their time shopping at Cécile & Jeanne and that their purchases will always remind them of their trip to Paris. And most amazingly, it was the man and not the woman who made this claim!

If you're interested in learning more about Madeleine Albright's pins, please click here to read about the 2009-10 exhibition featuring more than 200 of them at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. Mrs. Albright has also written a book, Read my Pins: Stories from a Diplomat's Jewelry Box, recounting how she used brooches as a diplomatic tool during her years with the Clinton administration.

Cécile & Jeanne
49 Avenue Daumesnil
75012 Paris

A photo of one of my purchases, the shorter necklace on the left. I couldn't resist when I saw how good it looked with the orange shirt that I was wearing yesterday.

Comments

  1. Very cool! Does Condi Rice have a hawk? Ha ha

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    1. Ha! I don't know what Condi Rice used to wear but found it really interesting to read how Madeleine Albright used her pins to convey strong messages, like the following:

      "At one point, Russian leader Vladimir Putin told President Clinton that he knew what the mood of a meeting would be by looking at Albright's left shoulder. (Albright's pin with three monkeys, which she wore when discussing Chechnya, was meant to draw attention to the fact that Russia took a "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil" stance toward the Chechen atrocities.)"

      And on a completely different topic, I just realized that I made a mistake in the post because the couple I met wasn't truly Australian. The woman was from NZ and made sure that I knew it when she teased that she couldn't believe that she had married an Aussie. They were a lot of fun to talk with. Good people come from your part of the world!

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  2. Looks like a fascinating place to visit....would love to add this to my "to do" list for Sept. I really should have booked more than a week !!

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    1. brgramnaa....That's me biting my tongue to prevent me from saying, "I told you so!" ;) A week in Paris is too short, but I'm keeping my thoughts to myself!

      I can't remember if you've ever been to the Viaduc des Arts. It's right under the promenade plantée and is a great spot for taking photos.

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  3. How many people work in her atelier? It looks quite busy. And I much prefer your necklace to the gecko design, looks less heavy and less cumbersome. This big necklace trend is just beyond me.

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    1. In addition to the sales staff, I think that there are about 4 artisans working at the atelier at the Viaduc des Arts. There's also another workshop located in a different part of Paris.

      Big necklaces appeal to me but I've learned that I can't wear them for very long without getting a stiff neck. Being a practical minded person, what I liked about the one I bought is that it goes with a lot of different colors. It proved to be irresistible when I tried it on with my orange shirt, yet it also looked great with Jeanne's blue blouse.

      What are your thoughts on chunky bracelets? I got a fantastic brushed gold and bronze one that looks like a belt with a belt buckle. The woman from NZ whom I met in the store got the same bracelet, necklace & earrings set as me so we teased that we have to be sure that we don't wear them on the same days. Her husband thought that we were serious and started to explain that it wouldn't matter because she would be in Sydney and I would be in Paris! ;)

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    2. You really get to visit some fascinating people and places. I had never noticed the broaches on these peopel. Now I will make a point of it.

      Love Denise

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    3. When I saw Jane the other night, she mentioned that she has some Cecile and Jeanne jewelry...the same necklace and bracelet that I bought but in silver! The next time that you're near the Viaduc des Arts, it's really worth a visit.

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  4. I had no idea of the significance of Albright's lapel. I particularly like the seriousness of the wit behind the "Three Monkeys" pin.

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    1. The story of the Three Monkeys pin appealed to me as well.

      Here's the story of when Albright started wearing pins:

      "A highlight of the exhibition will be the brooch that began Secretary Albright's unusual use of pins as a tool in her diplomatic arsenal. After Saddam Hussein's press referred to her as a serpent, Secretary Albright wore a golden snake brooch pinned to her suit for her next meeting on Iraq."

      If your travels take you to the USA, the exhibition is or will be in the following cities.

      Mint Museum, Charlotte NC June 30, 2012- Sept 23, 2012
      Bowers Museum, Orange County CA Oct 22, 2012-Jan 13, 2013
      Gerald Ford Library, Michigan Jan 27, 2013-April 21, 2013

      I would love to see it!

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    2. Oh, the Bowers is a lovely, small museum very close to my home. I'll have to calendar it for a visit. Thanks, Mary Kay!
      dekage

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    3. You're welcome. If you make it to the exhibition, I would love to hear about it. Please be sure to look for the Cecile and Jeanne dove pin!

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  5. I am searching for the (Broche Voyage) Dove of Peace Brooch, worn by Albright and Clinton. I cannot seem to find it anywhere for sale in the United States. Can you advise?

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    1. There's a Cécile & Jeanne store in San Francisco. Perhaps they would have the brooch. Here's the contact info: 255 Grant Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94108 -- Tel: (415) 677-0904

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