Monika Knutsson has found the perfect way to combine an antique look with a golden, modern touch with her Gilded Lace collection.
After getting her start in fashion, she eventually realized she could use the lace she found in other ways. The designer began dipping the pieces in karat gold, creating a unique look that celebrates the fabric pieces’ past as it brings them into the present.
Each piece is given a tag that includes its name, as well as the year and history of the lace’s creation and its former use.
Read on to learn more about Knutsson’s inspiration, design process and the exciting new things she has on the horizon for her jewelry line.
National Jeweler: How did you get started in jewelry and especially doing these kinds of pieces?
Monika Knutsson: I was working in France as a fashion designer for Isabel Marant. When we designed a vintage lace collection, I went to the flea market at Clignancourt to do research and find old lace pieces and garments. That is when I discovered this enormous treasure of old, beautiful lace, and I started collecting it.
The first piece of lace jewelry I made for myself. It was a cuff bracelet and it was stunning. My head started spinning and I continued all night to design lace jewelry. The possibilities were endless. Needless to say, I did not sleep that night.
Both of my grandmothers were lace makers. Dipping the lace in 24-karat gold is a way to honor not only their work, but all the other women that made lace by hand.
I moved back to the United States in 2008 with my large lace collection. In 2010, I founded the company in New York City. My studio is located on the Upper West Side in Manhattan. I make all the jewelry by hand. The lace is dipped in 24-karat gold, sterling silver or rose gold here in New York.
NJ: Take me through the process you use to create these intricate pieces.
MK: First, I find the lace and cut it according to a pattern. Then I hand-sew the jewelry together. For example, in the new collection I have a cuff called “Claudie.” It is a cuff made of circular lace from the 1960s. There I sew on a back to the cuff and then a silk tulle pouch under the lace to hold the pearl in place. The next step is to dip all the lace in lacquer; this is to seal it and also to make it stiff so that I can form it.
Now the pieces are ready for the metal. They are sprayed with a thin layer of copper and dipped in a batch of 24-karat gold or sterling silver. This process is long and requires a lot of hands-on supervision.
To finish, all my cuffs, bangles, collars and larger necklaces are signed and numbered and come with a piece of the original lace.
This is the “Margaret Rose” cuff, made using British crown lace made in 1936 to commemorate the coronation of King George VI in 1937, dipped in 24-karat gold. The cuff is named after one of King George VI's daughters ($895).
While I didn’t get to do everything on my list (here’s looking at you, High Roller), I had an amazing time while I was there.
The best thing that continues to come out of these work trips for me, besides the education, is getting to see more brands, designers and jewelry, meeting people in person that I’ve been emailing for a while and meeting tons of wonderful new people. I am constantly in awe of the passion, dedication and energy that seems to pervade the industry.
By day in Las Vegas, I was going on a few appointments of my own at the shows as well as accompanying both Hannah and Michelle on theirs. Nothing beats getting to see the jewelry in person and trying it on, and Las Vegas provided that opportunity in spades.
Here are a few of my favorite pieces from the trip.
Starting top left and moving clockwise: Pamela Froman, Octium, Omi Privé, and Oscar Heyman
Not too long ago, one of my alerts turned me on to a really interesting story about Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde and his project to eliminate smog with a new device he’s creating.
Roosegaarde and his team of experts at the Studio Roosegaarde, which has locations in the Netherlands and Shanghai, are developing a safe, energy-friendly installation to capture smog and create clean air. The Smog project uses patented ion technology in an “electronic vacuum cleaner” to create large holes of clean air, and they’re aiming to create the largest smog-free park in Beijing, according to Studio Roosegaarde.
The project’s timing is aligned with the recent vow by Beijing’s municipal government to lower the concentration of fine particulate matter by 25 percent by 2017.
A mock-up is currently being tested in the studio, and the first park is slated to open in early summer of next year.
What’s more, Roosegaarde is using the smog captured from the machine and turning it into fine jewelry. “I like the notion that you take something high-end and combine it with the problematic,” Roosegaarde told The New York Times.