Pearl renos supreme: Janis Kerman

Janis Kerman in her studio
Today, the Passage's windows are beautifully dressed thanks to a star in the jewellery firmament, Janis Kerman.

Any Janis Kerman piece is a treasure, but of particular delight to me is how she restyles pearls, transforming a simple strand into an intriguing and deeply personal piece. A Kerman pearl piece doesn't 'wear you', it is you.

She invited me to visit her studio, thanks to an introduction from a Montréalaise, Chantal, who has commissioned a pearl project.

Though I have admired Janis's work since the early 1980s, when she spread a trove of necklaces and earrings on her studio table, my heart lept. J'etais toujours boulversée.

Before my eyes was was her artist's statement, "It's not the symmetry, it's the balance". Delivering that aphorism takes an exacting yet audacious stance, an assured eye joined by mastery of the art.

A Kerman commission work begins with a sketch; she describes the starting point: "My client came with a full "bag of stuff" and I created a double strand with elements in sterling silver and 18k gold. We used angelskin coral, carved jade, ruby, citrine, grey moonstone, blue topaz and padparasha sapphires. The two strands can be connected by using tongue clasps so that she can wear it as one long strand."

Photo courtesy Janis Kerman

The finished necklace is a 'memory book' that, as she says, "could be worn with a t-shirt, as well as more dressed up things":

Photo courtesy Janis Kerman
There is no such thing as obsolete when your older pieces meet Janis Kerman. Suppose you have a tangle of chains and charms you haven't worn since you gave up shoulderpads, and your mother's cameo brooch.

Janis's elegant rope used her client's pearls and charms; gems include amethyst, citrine, ruby, blue sapphire, diamond and a cameo:  

Photo courtesy Janis Kerman

Or Tahitians! Janis says, "This client supplied her gorgeous cultured Tahitian graduated strand and stones that she collected over time. It was fun to incorporate the jade she received as a child from her parents, the rubies and other gold charms that held much sentimental value."  

Photo courtesy Janis Kerman

Should you wish a piece with new pearls, she has an enticing selection. Below, Janis shows a recent pair of earrings:

Freshwater pearl and sterling silver earrings

Janis works with clients throughout North America. Via Skype or similar apps, you can discuss your wishes. Conscious of budgets, she advises, "Start with the clasp; you can add other elements later." And that clasp will be striking and special.

Visit her web site to see more of her work, and check the gallery list for North American galleries, many of whom have their own sites.

Montréalers, mark your calendar for her show, "Reminiscence: 45 Years of Creating Contemporary Jewellery" at the Canadian Guild of Crafts, April  27-May 28, 2017. Or plan a visit, the city is thawed out by then and you'll have a terrific time!

I was so enchanted after my visit that I couldn't fall asleep—instead of sheep, I counted the unworn pieces that, once touched by Janis, could have a splendid new life.


LauraH said…
What stunning pieces! Thank you for sharing the work of this amazing designer. Just so happens I plan to be in Montreal towards the end of May so will be able to see her show...this makes my day!
Babsox said…
Beautiful. Inspiring. Thanks.
Bunny said…
Stunning work and beautifully personal.
Those are fabulous works of artistry...she has created a contemporary wearable statement necklace that is truly off to check out her site.
Thank you for the introduction!
SusanG said…
Janis's work is truly exquisite! So original and personal. I've bookmarked her site for future drooling! Thank you, Duchesse.
Jean Shaw said…
My goodness, but those are lovely pieces. She is quite talented!
Duchesse said…
Jean Shaw: Perhaps because I've seen her work in person, I would replace the "quite" with "remarkably". I hope you can come to the Montréal retrospective.

LauraH: On till May 28 but I'd avoid last day, bound to b packed.

Babsox and SusanG: I am on that site more than I'd like to admit! Will be posting soon on an acquaintance's commission.

Bunny: I would love to hear the stories in each piece. When at the studio she showed me a necklace clasp that incorporated the client's father's monogrammed cufflinks!
Leslie M said…
Wow! Her work is stunning. Her jewelry is carried at a local jeweler and I now know what I plan to do tomorrow. Well, window shop, at least.
emma said…
I love what she does! I'd wear any of these! Thanks for sharing her designs with us.
Unknown said…
OMG! I can see while you were kept awake, thinking of all the treasures you saw. So sorry I can't make the show in Montreal. I would love to see more of the clasps--especially the cuff- link reno! I also like the mixture of chains and pearls. WOW. Happy thoughts! Kirsten
Susan B said…
Oh, I am swooning over these! Truly extraordinary vision and designs!!
The way she is able to combine the elements like she has is amazing. I will be checking out her work more closely. She has amazing talent.
Adele said…
Oh I would love to have me pearls restyled, I just shudder at what the cost might be.
Duchesse said…
Adele: If it is this artist, it is an investment, but as Janis Kerman says, start with the clasp; you can add other elements later. If you're on a deep budget, look for vintage clasps for sale om Etsy, or haunt rummage sales, and take that clasp to a bead store or jeweller who offers restringing. And please click on the menu at right for my other posts on restyling pearls.

But I should also add, exceptional work is worth saving for. Another well known jeweller with whom I spoke yesterday said, "There is simply no one like her."
Adele said…
Duchesse, I am already starting to hatch a plan for a milestone birthday that's coming up.....I have a lot of nice jewelry that I no longer wear because it's not my style any longer, so I may try selling some of it and saving up for a piece by Janis.

I would also consider working with another jeweler who is still up-and-coming, so I will be on the lookout!
Duchesse said…
Adele: Depending on what you have, some may be repurposed and it is often smart to recycle precious metals. The resale market is uneven, and depending on where you live, or your comfort with selling such goods online, can work out or not.

Overall, I recycle way more than I've ever sold, and have been very happy with the results.
Adele said…
Duchesse, do you mean recycle by actually have a jeweler melt and re-cast the metals? On re-fashion into a different shape?

This is so intriguing to me!
Duchesse said…
Adele: If you want to use your old or unworn gold in a new piece, you round them up, the jeweller removes stones, if any, and sends the metal to a specialist who remelts and refines mixed alloys (gold in jewellery is almost never pure, 24k gold.) This is done with gold of various karats and platinum. (A few jewellers will alloy the gold themselves but most send out the job.)

That gold can then be re-cast into a new piece, or can be sold (by the jeweller) to buy a new precious metal, for example, if you have old yellow gold but want the new piece in platinum.

See this post on Nancy's stacking rings, in which she used the gold from her mother's and mother-in-law's wedding rings:

If the metal itself has no sentimental value, you can also sell the piece as is to a jeweller or appraiser who advertises that he or she buys gold. If you do that, shop around- prices can vary somewhat, but not usually dramatically- and check the current rates (spot prices) for precious metals on a site like Goldline.

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