Catherine Ribas Duchêne: Handmade Jewelry

3 by Ellen Hall 3

At the Artimon Gallery in Collioure until the end of June, Catherine
Ribas Duchêne’s stunning creations in stones, pearls and shells are
on display. She aims to bring out the colours and properties of each stone and to make them available at a price that anyone can afford.
The day of my visit the worktable and floor is stacked with leather chests, overflowing with the treasures and the tools of her trade. Catherine works with a whole palette of semi-precious stones from the pale ethereal yellow of citrine to the watery depths of jade, aquamarine and labradorite. As she talks, Catherine fishes small boxes from her maxi-handbag. Each box contains a piece of family jewelry, each with its own history. Catherine is from Mallorca, where jewelry making is an ancient art. A ring, a bracelet or a medallion is traditionally given to mark each important family event, like a birthday or an anniversary.

An elegant woman, dressed in cascading layers of different hues of grey, Catherine wears a necklace to match. She admits to changing her jewelry according to the dress or the mood of the day. Many clients come to her with a gown or a stone and ask for a made to order piece. Catherine loves the “infinity of choice” that stones provide. She is inspired by the challenge of assembling and, especially, harmonizing colours as in a painting. Her experiments with jewelry-making started many years ago by undoing a pearl necklace, which she didn’t want to wear. “Too well-behaved for me!” Her first creation, a mixture of pearls and stones, is reflected in her current pieces, integrating Tahitian pearls.

What is the fascination of stones? Is it their colour or the play of light? Is it the feel on the skin? Is it the stories they tell?
Or is it something more? Catherine believes that in every age and in every culture in the world women love to wear jewelry to lift their spirits. Why not see for yourself? Catherine is at the Artimon Gallery every afternoon (14:00 to 18:00) except Sunday or by appointment at

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