I have always loved pottering around the Brocante Markets of France, seeking out new things for the house and garden, but more recently have been ferreting out old silver and other unusual items, creating new pieces of jewellery with them.
French flatware is particularly pretty and the patterns on handles, the unusual shapes and the beautiful engraving on pieces really help them to stand out from the crowd.
The French napkin rings are no different and reflect the wonderful changes in French style over the years and I have discovered make fantastic cuff bangles.
The French napkin rings were designed to fit the beautiful, heavy linen napkins that have traditionally been used in France (and can now be found at most Brocante Markets) – as such they are much larger than the ones I have bought in England and are perfectly suited to being transformed into beautiful & unique bangles.
The first one I found was at the Sunday market in Carpentras, blackened with tarnish & sat at the back of the stall the trader suggested it was only good for scrap, which made my heart bleed as the beautiful raised ‘Violet’ pattern was clearly visible and I couldn’t imagine that craftsmanship being lost to a furnace.
At first I hadn’t a clue what to do with it, but after a few days thought I would see if it was big enough for a bangle. Once it was cut and shaped I tried it & it fitted perfectly & after many hours of polishing it was beautiful.
Since then I have hunted out other pieces to transform into the cuffs, scouring the Brocante markets of Provence for them and getting very excited when I see a new design or one with a particularly pretty shape.
They are all different, some are wider than others, with patterns ranging from my favourite ‘Belle Epoque’ period with beautiful raised floral designs…..
…..wonderfully elegant & simple dotted patterns
………to the crisp designs of Art Nouveau in the 1920s & 30s
……… and more recent stylised designs
……. and occasionally ones designed with a specific person in mind.
They are certainly statement pieces, but easy to wear and comfortable on the wrist and at least the old napkin ring that would have adorned a beautifully set table in an elegant house in France has a new life and hasn’t been consigned to the furnace.
It isn’t often you can say ‘I’m wearing a napkin ring today’, but it’s nice to be able to wear a piece of jewellery with a story.
There are a number listed in the shop at the moment and I’ll be hunting for more when I return to France next month..