There is a trend in Paris toward simple, wearable jewelry that could easily have begun with Sylvie Gilbert. The designer’s Gilbert Gilbert, a svelte boutique in the lower Marais, is the gold standard for simple, affordable and utterly irresistible jewelry.
Each collection—Gilbert does two a year—has a theme, with titles like Magic, Moon or Black. The latest collection, called Time, was inspired by the intricate cogs, wheels and hands of a clock. For Gilbert the material precedes the design. “For me it’s tactile. There’s something that feels right and I follow it,” she says. Everything is made by hand in her atelier in the suburb of Montreuil, an artists’ haven just outside the city limits, which is to Paris what Brooklyn is to Manhattan.
The common element in Gilbert’s designs is their slenderness, grace and lightness on the body. An elegant silk-cord bracelet attached with a tiny double gold chain, for example, is so light and gossamer that you barely know it’s there.
A few of my half-dozen favorites—it’s impossible to choose just one—are a slender bracelet with a band of black and metallic lurex connected by five delicate gold filaments, like something out of an Etruscan tomb (there’s a necklace to match); a dainty oxidized silver chain necklace holding five or six gold spheres that can be worn long or short; a simple gold ring with a single faceted gem that seems to hover over the finger.
Gilbert also designs a handsome men’s line offering pieces that men actually want to wear. Sharing all the simplicity of the women’s line, the men’s jewelry uses a bit more leather, and there’s a distinctly masculine heft to the metals.
One of the best things about Gilbert’s jewelry is its affordability. Prices range from €25 for a simple cord bracelet to €300 for a feathery gold necklace. The nice prices are very welcome because, with Gilbert’s work, to want one piece is to want them all.
35 rue François Miron, 4th, 01.44.59.32.09. website
Originally published in the January 2011 issue of France Today