Let The Pearls Fall Where They May
Photo courtesy of Ecksand (Click to enlarge)
TORONTO - When TIFF rolls around, everyone comes out to play. The ordinary becomes grand. The everyday transforms into a celebration of everyone’s last. The city is vibrant. The lights are hypnotic. The late nights are addictive and the champagne never stops flowing. What better mise-en-scene to meet new people to! Cue my meet and greet with Erica Bianchini and Yoan Gehant of Ecksand Joaillerie, a fresh Montreal based jeweler climbing the ranks of the luxury sector. I had the pleasure of sitting down with the duo in the Garden Suite at the Shangri-La hotel as they made their Toronto debut. For a brand that celebrates natural beauty, the patio of luscious greens and fanciful stones was perfectly suitable to their story.
We’ve seen it before - it’s a tale of our modern times. The work force no longer boasts the same allure nor holds the same possibilities as it once did. Such state squeezes the entrepreneurial spirit out of many and pushes them onto the road less travelled, the road most feared. Often a deserted path, this is where our passion waits for us to gather up the gumption to seek it, run with it and catapult ourselves into a world where our inner fire is never fanned, where passion eclipses exhaustion and where personal satisfaction far outweighs the comfort of stability. This is where Erica and Yoan found themselves. And they can’t imagine it any other way.
Photo courtesy of Ecksand
Ecksand was conceived in 2010 after a string of life events brought the two together. Erica is a double major in finance and economics but she saw her future belonging to an entirely different occupation. Yoan, also a finance major, returned from a trip to Tahiti with a bundle of black pearls, some of which he gifted to a friend. They were flabbergasted. With their reaction, Yoan saw possibilities. Somewhere in this sequence of events, Erica and Yoan had met and organically, their personalities and visions blended and the rest is history in the making... in the making of Ecksand.
For such young players in the luxury game, their creations are quite mature. What I saw was intuitive elegance and what I heard was unbridled excitement, the end result being sophisticated designs with modern and responsible approaches.
Each piece in their eclectic assortment had its own turn on the story board. On the one hand, you could have extreme opulence with the Veiled Heart Ring; on the other, daintiness with the versatile stackable rings, and, enveloping your neck, innovativeness with the forward thinking Diamond Coil Necklace. The first of its kind, the fully articulated coil necklace boasts 1600 diamonds set using a progressive movement technology that creates a fluid necklace with the slither of a snake. It is shapeable and even with a thousand plus diamonds that meticulously make it up, it doesn’t have a single sharp edge.
Erica and Yoan have quite a few outstanding standards and policies when it comes to their metier. In their unwritten charter, they maintain a firm stance on congenital beauty, local production, conscionable business practices, and respect for their products and for their customer.
Their commitment starts with using only natural and ethically sourced pearls, diamonds, and gemstones from Australia, Tahiti and Canada, but manufacturing only in our native land. These are the areas in which the quality of the product matches the quality of their vision.
They are a proud member of the Natural Colour Diamond Association, which as its name would suggest, means they use naturally coloured diamonds. Similarly, they use untampered pearls and gemstones. Some may shrug at the thought of a clouded gemstone, but lest we forget, true beauty comes from true beauty. No argument there. No two diamonds alike. No two pearls alike. No two stones alike. No two Ecksand purchases alike. This is their rarity.
Photo courtesy of Ecksand
Erica and Yoan have a design etiquette that doesn’t allow for glue in their creations. It’s a little bit of a faux-pas. As a result, they have created a new process to work with pearls. It is by their designs that they are firmly set in place. They also laser weld rather than solder, a process that not only reduces the cost but is better for the environment.
To further minimize their environmental impact, they created a special sink in their atelier to filter the water they use when creating their jewelry so that when it returns to the water system, it is as clean as when it entered. No waste in. No waste out.
They also have an ongoing partnership with Coral Guardian, a wonderful organization committed to restoring and conserving coral ecosystems through awareness, research, and community participation. Currently, they have a growing Coral Garden with the organization as just one of their efforts.
Photo courtesy of Ecksand
If not to state the obvious, customers are paramount to Ecksand. They put great effort into understanding the customer as well as appreciate their financial investment in one of their pieces. Erica takes a hands-on approach with her customers. Whether they are buying an existing piece, or want something custom made, they can always call or email her for help; this intimacy she hopes to keep throughout her company’s growth. She will ask for pictures and for you to describe the individual and from there, it’s a joint effort. With the customer’s input and her insight, a one of a kind Ecksand piece is chosen or made - by them, but definitely for you.
Leading their business in all the above mentioned ways was a decision that was never really decided, a choice that was never chosen. Their clean, natural and responsible mantras are second nature. But if it weren’t inherently in them to conduct themselves this way, they do recognize that behaving any other way would be counterproductive to their life and their livelihood. Respect must therefore start at the very root of their pearls, diamonds and gemstones.
Dejan Stojanovic once said “We love the imperfect shapes in nature and in the works of art, look for an intentional error as a sign of the golden key and sincerity found in true mastery”. I agree, however, conditionally. Maybe the error isn’t nature’s. Maybe our man-made definition of imperfect is what’s imperfect. Maybe the imperfection is in trying to make something “our” perfect. Maybe the flaw is not in Mother Nature’s design, but in our quest to change it. And not maybe, but quite actually, Ecksand is turning out to be Her greatest ambassador.