“SOUL JEWELLERY” BY CRISTEL GAIDON
Created by Cristel Gaidon, the brand Bee Valentina is just three years old. The idea? To give antique medallions found in antique shops and monasteries a different image and more style. These “soul jewels” are decorated with enriched and enamelled colours and transformed into necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings.
Cristel Gaidon, please introduce yourself, your brand and how it all began.
I made my first piece of jewellery in 2016, whilst working for an American prosthetics brand. I liked it so much that I started to do it more and more. I don’t fully remember the moment when it became more than a hobby and I created my brand. One day, I took the leap of faith. From the very beginning, I was drawn to medallions, it allowed me to be truly creative. With this material, I could constantly produce new products without being accused of copying anyone else.
I started to make rosaries and then jewellery. I had really unique medallions that I wanted to replicate, and so I started looking for casting workshops. 3 years later, we have an entire jewellery range: a one micron silver gilded base and 18 carat gilding.
Your brand in 3 words.
The first is: ambivalence. I distorted the religious symbolism attached to the medallions. The second is: soul. It is our motto: “jewellery with soul.” The third is: infinite. I feel there is an infinite number of possibilities. It’s a shame that we can’t make everything straight away, we have to be patient!
What are your sources of inspiration?
I am inspired by the walks, art and decoration shops and antique shops. My mother gave me medallions and that inspired me a lot. Also, churches, for me they are a place where everything is beautiful and mixed together: delicate faces and hands; I can appreciate that there is so much emotion even if I am not at all religious.
What is your signature piece?
It it the Apparition ring, a tube ring mounted a curved medal, it comes in 23 different colours. The entire Apparition collection works very well.
How to not go unnoticed nowadays?
You have to find a concept that stands out, a strong brand DNA.
I try to make different pieces that stand out, such as mottled medallions that you don’t often find, with a particular enamel which creates our brand signature.
Tell us about your experience at Who’s Next.
We were very lucky, the location is great and the people do care, but I still have little perspective to be able talk about this brand new experience.
What opportunities have you gained from the trade-show?
Our many meetings with buyers, especially the international ones! This tradeshow is a chance to see if our products are popular and to develop our business in order to expand our teams, our story.
An anecdote? A memory? An encounter at Who’s Next?
I had a nice encounter, a teenage friend who moved to China has made contact with me again and she automatically put me in touch with a Chinese blogger.
We all saw each other at the show and we took pictures, I offered him a bracelet. She assured me that I could make it in China, even with religious symbols.
We really need someone to manage our communications because we are overwhelmed! I need some advice on this side of things. With that competences we could make more progress. For example, the website is being restructured. I have 4 sales representatives on the streets and we are working with 150 shops in France, but we still need to do more.