Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Jewelry Handmade with Love and History


Isn't it funny how a painting or a bottle of wine or a wonderful meal becomes even more delicious if you know the person or the story behind it? This jewelry has a great story indeed...and the fact that the artist's mom is my good friend makes these exquisite pieces all the more special.

For years I've been hearing Ann Bradley, an Irishwoman living in the Luberon village of Lacoste, mention her daughter Ruth. As in ''Ruth is coming to visit'' or ''Ruth had her baby!'' I only met Ruth once but it was years ago...and brief. Then, just recently, I connected the dots and realized that Ann's daughter is Ruth Ribeaucourt, a faithful fan of Provence Post who writes her own blog called Le Petit Coquin

So here's what happened. Ann moved to Provence in 2006 and at her housewarming party, Ruth (visiting from Dublin), met Raphael Ribeaucourt. ''It was a pretty instant coup de foudre,'' Ruth tells me. ''And the brave man moved to Ireland very soon after.'' The couple married in 2008.   

Ruth had a big job back at home, heading up marketing and publicity for Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures in Ireland, the studio's theatrical distribution arm. Ruth loved her work but the couple wanted ''some time off the career track'' and dreamed of raising their family in the French countryside. Their first child, Louis, was born in October 2009 and they moved down to Lacoste one year later. Baby #2, Charlotte, followed four months ago.  

Raphael, meanwhile, works as a financial consultant but comes from a celebrated French family named Faure, silk-makers in St. Etienne since 1864. Yep, going back to when Napoleon III reigned in France. The company is now called Julien Faure. 
A couple years ago, Raphael's uncle Julien--the fifth generation to head the company-- opened the archives and gifted Ruth with some incredible echantillons (samples) of ribbons from the late 19th to mid 20th century, all which had been rescued and hidden away for years by Raphael's grandfather, Georges Faure.  And for the last two years, Ruth has been meticulously transforming the ribbons into jewelry such as the pieces you see above. As it turns out, Ruth has been making jewelry since age ten, when Father Christmas gave her a toolbox filled with beads, silver wire and a jewelry pliers. ''This might sound contrived,'' she says, ''but creativity has always been my preferred form of meditation. It nourishes my soul and now that I have the luxury of time (and the beauty of Lacoste), I'm finally able to concentrate on it.''
And concentrate she has! In November 2011, Ruth launched an online Etsy shop called Rubanesque, offering one-of-a-kind handmade cuffs made from antique art deco ribbons. (Ruban is ribbon in French.) Called the Golden Age, the collection was featured on several French blogs including Tongue in Cheek and Trouvais...and it completely sold out to buyers from all over the world. (If you don't know Etsy, learn about it here.) 

Last week, Ruth launched her newest collection: a series of vintage ribbon cuffs (''more modern than my first collection,'' she says), plus antique and vintage ribbon pendants, antique ribbon-on-silk-bobbin necklaces (you can see them here), and delicate antique real gold passementerie trim bracelets, which Ruth calls ''my most-favorite pieces of all.'' She also just added two cuffs, made from 1920s silk in acrylic, and depending on how they sell, is likely to make more. Have a look at her Etsy shop here and I guarantee you'll find something you'll adore...or want to give as a gift.

But wait, there's more! To introduce her line to you, Ruth is offering my readers a 10% discount, until the end of November. Just enter the code NOV10 to receive the reduced price. Ruth will gift wrap if you request it and is happy to ship worldwide.

You can reach Ruth by email at: ruthribeaucourt@googlemail.com

Photos: 1. A cuff made from piece of antique, restored French silk fabric, preserved between two layers of arcylic. 2. A one-of-a-kind handmade bracelet made from a piece of antique French gold passementerie trim, with red silk interwoven through the heavy gold thread. 3. Another bracelet made from gold passementerie trim. 4. A piece of antique lace made from real gold, dating to the late 19th century. 5. A silk ribbon cuff in an art nouveau motif, embellished with Swarovski crystals. 6. A gold 'Fil D'Or' ribbon pendant necklace on a sterling silver chain. 7. A beautiful assortment of antique silk bobbins hangs on the wall in the St. Etienne home of Marguerite Faure, Raphael's grandmother. 8. Ruth, at home in Lacoste. All jewelry photos by Robert Hale.


  1. Her creations are stunning and would make such unique gifts. I'm sure I will be a loyal customer!

  2. Well, Julie....this is all not only lovely, but also intriguing. I'll be looking into this (and sending the link to Herve) for christmas presents.

    As for Lacoste? I love the place, in a bemused way. I've been there only once.

    Two summers ago, Herve and I were trudging up that steep, middle-of-the-village street in 180-degree (or at least it seemed so) heat. I was speaking in English just then, and suddenly two terribly cute, "artistically"-dressed college-age girls (to whom I hadn't really noticed as we paused for a moment) jumped up from where they'd been sitting on some stone stoop.....and they immediately and vociferously began exclaiming "Hey! Y'all from The South, right?!???!!!??? Oh, Mah GAWD!!!!" (etcetera, etcetera,ad infinitum....).

    They were both from the Savannah School of the Arts (which owned the building on whose steps they were sitting), and they were spending their Summer dutifully completing their art-studies in Lacoste.

    I told them that, yes, I was from Tennessee...and, yes, I had gone to the University of the South when I was their age, and I lived in North Carolina. Squeals of delight followed (rather obviously, the charms of spending six weeks in a markedly-small Luberon village had become rather exhausted for these young ladies). I also told them that Herve was (they hadn't picked-up on this) actually French (he speaks completely fluent, if rather stilted, English)

    Herve made the mistake of telling them that I was an artist (I'd deliberately avoided doing so).

    Consequently, they giddily and VERY-vocally followed us up to the chateau (or, more accurately, what remains of it), back down into the village, and then decided to sit with us for lunch....Let's have FUN!!!!!!

    One of them kept declaring (and I recall similar Southern Girls regularly saying the same thing throughout my college years) "OH!...we can come TOO!!!!....why NOT???? So, what are y'all doing the rest of the day? Are you staying in town???? Let's go together! Why NOT!?!?!?!?!?!?!!!!!"

    I thought of telling them "...'Why not?"....because we're two entirely unknown, middle-aged men in a rented-car who've just dropped out of nowhere? Call your mother in Charleston and ask her if she thinks it's a smart idea to go off in some car with two unkown-men to God-knows-where....."

    Herve told them that, actually, we were having dinner with his parents (we weren't; they were seven hours away in Tours) and needed to get back to our hotel in Menerbes to meet them for Our Very Early Dinner before going to bed VERY EARLY.

    Those girls WERE, indeed, very charming....but all I could think was "Oh, Heaven help them during their first trip 'abroad'....".

    Herve's summation of that late-afternoon was "I think they thought they were FINALLY going to get to have their 'Vicki/Christina/Barcelona' experience."

    ....which is very amusing, considering that there were several points during that longass walk and that absurdly prolonged lunch that I thought of going all-avuncular on thse girls and advising them "Ummmmm?....has it occurred to either of you that there's a good reason that these 2-men-you've-just-met are so obviously 'together'????"

    all in all (and with the benefit of retrospect) it was an amusing afternoon.

    I will be going to look over Ribeaucourt's jewelery, and thanks for the (as usual) evocative post, Julie....

    Level Best as Ever,

    david Terry

  3. Such beautiful pieces and you're right, when objects have a story behind them, the more depth they have and the more treasured they become. I'd rather have one of Ruth's pieces than something by Tiffany. Christmas is coming so I'm sending the link to Hubby!



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