Above, the original clasp on a strand of fancy-coloured Tahitians (bought several years ago from Kojima Company); it was pretty but fiddly, a channeled box clasp (hidden by dome-set half pearl) that took multiple tries to attach. I decided to change the clasp the next time I needed restringing.
Like buttons on a coat, a new clasp can change the entire character of a necklace, and is especially good for making a plain or too-formal necklace a hipper, looser piece.
I wanted something other than a stock clasp, in the funky/organic mode. I filed this project in my mind until I found the right designer.
A year ago, I met Québec jeweler Céline Bouré of Kokass, with whom I share a mission: to nudge the gem from proper to divinely wearable. I loved her work.
Le Duc gave me my first Kokass piece, this pearl pendant, a metallic Chinese freshwater that glows wildly even in the dimmest light, set on a chain punctuated with silver handmade beads inlaid with 22k gold.
I also own own several bigger Kokass necklaces...in my dreams. Here I am at the show, trying on a circlé Tahitian necklace with big, swirly oxidized silver beads set with semi-precious stones. (These are not the ubiquitous craft beads of so many shows; Céline designs and makes each element.)
To never remove it would involve a $2,400 investment, and besides, why not work with your bought-and-paid-fors? But madonna, this was a bliss-inducing bauble!
Céline won the prestigious Perles de Tahiti prize, as well as an award from Van Cleef and Arpels, yet her work can be worn with the simplest clothes. The designs are loose, light and joyful, and she has an eye for interesting pearls, mixing South Seas, Tahitians and freshwaters.
Here's Céline in Tahitian keshis with her signature handwrought links. My Tahitians sit in front of her, begging for her hands. I like an artist with joie de vivre, and you can just see it! (Note: Céline is bilingual, should anyone wish to contact her in English. The website, Kokass par Céline Bouré, is in French.)
First meeting, mid-December
I visited her at the Salon des metiers, a large craft show at which she had a booth. (She is based in Québec City.) She also can consult via Skype.
We decided that the clasp would be worn at the side. My strand is slightly graduated, so I had to make that decision; if they matched in size it, wouldn't matter where the clasp was set.
She kept the pearls and e-mailed me a cellphone shot. This protects us from misrepresentation on either side, and, though I trusted her immediately, it's a wise precaution. (Any reputable jeweler will do this, and if not, run!)
After Christmas, Céline took her time thinking. She often awakes at night full of ideas and heads to her bench.
This moment, when I place my trust in the artist's talent, is my favourite, and also the scariest. I try to approach someone whose work I admire with respect and not many directives. A budget, yes– but not a long list of specifications or tight deadlines.
Late January: Proposal
Céline sent a photo of a clasp she'd made and we had a phone meeting. The new clasp is a simple blackened silver spring ring flanked by two handmade beads with 22k accents and sparkly little blue topazes, an inexpensive stone that highlights the teal and aqua overtones of many of the pearls. She suggested using the half-pearl from the old clasp to make a charm (not shown), to add movement. (I thought, Why not? If I don't like it, it's easy to remove.)
The cost, $145, includes restringing and taxes.
Late January: Voilà!
The necklace arrived beautifully packaged, with the old clasp included, should I wish to use it one day. (Always get your original mount back unless you absolutely abhor it.) Céline's design transformed the necklace, now fresh and au courant. Here you see the clasp and charm, set into the strand:
And a quick snapshot of the necklace:
I've hoped to show how a new clasp can transform your necklace. That works best if you like the pearl size. If not, mix in some bigger or varying sizes, different pearl varieties, or other material.
Once you find a jeweler (perhaps the gifted Ms. Bouré herself), the pearl world's your oyster!