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
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.