Introducing Ariana Boussard-Reifel
Introducing Ariana Boussard-Reifel
Showcasing a multi-talented jewellery designer direct from New York City.
Harriet caught up with Ariana Boussard-Reifel,
to talk about the inspiration behind
her eponymous label.
An artist, a jewellery designer, a collector, an antique and vintage jewellery expert, and a frequent traveler – how do you balance it all?
It is generous to think that I’m really balancing it all. I always wish that I had more time to get another stamp in my passport, tinker with a new idea or to call my mom. But at the end of the day I am lucky that everything I do, I love to do. So it is really a matter of seeing where I need to put the energy to keep the whole thing aloft!
My mornings are really important to me. I usually sit for an hour or so with a cup of coffee before the world wakes up and organize my thoughts about the day ahead.
You have many different pursuits, how does it all fit together?
When I was starting my career, it seemed like I stumbled from one venture to the next without much continuity. But now, designing jewellery, all these random-seeming pieces of my past have really come together.
I was a sculptor, gallerist and shop girl. Then a vintage clothing dealer and renovator on a DIY TV show, then a tribal & antique jewellery dealer and now a jewellery designer. All this over the course of 15 years. There was no master plan, and I didn’t end up where I thought I would, but in hindsight it seems like all roads led to Rome.
Designing jewellery is such a satisfying way to use my sculptural skills, but also find inspiration from the past, as an antique dealer. Plus the moxie and hustle of a gallerist helps to keep the business moving forward.
You have a background in sculpture – how does that affect your design process?
Seeing the world through the eyes of an art maker is really second nature to me. Both my parents are artists, and it is the only thing I know.
All of my jewelry begins as a block of wax that I carve and ply into the final shape. I start with a rough sketch, but my ideas really come to life as I’m making them in 3 dimensions.
It is a very intuitive process that is constantly referencing art history and the principles of design that I learned in my college studio.
You grew up on a ranch in Montana – how does that time affect your life and practices now?
Being a ranch girl informs everything I do. There is a very different ethos to living in the country, a sense of self-reliance.
I feel that I should first try to do it myself, before looking to hire someone or ask for help. My father taught me to use every tool out there, and while I’m not skilled at most of them, I have a big material vocabulary and throw myself at a problem with a Rosie the Riveter exuberance.
My process for jewellery making is quite self-taught. I’m making up how to do it, sometimes with innovative solutions and sometimes with messy failures.
Your personal collection of jewellery spans a vast array of time periods and cultures – Native American, Mexican, African, Middle Eastern, Victorian, 17th century.
Tell us a bit about your favourite periods and / or styles of jewellery.
I started a vintage jewellery shop Marteau because I have such a compulsive passion for hunting unique jewellery.
As my collection has matured, I’m really focusing on tribal and ethnographic designs. From Tuareg silver, to Maasai beads to Tibetan coral.
I like that these pieces had more than aesthetic significance to their original owner. The jewelry itself tells a whole story about a world and a belief system.
Most European jewelry, save for Victorian sentimental jewellery, doesn’t really carry the same level of meaning.
I fall for jewelry that feels like a cultural waypoint, a link to a perspective on life that is less and less evident as we push toward globalization.
Do you have a lucky talisman?
I wear a locket containing my grandmother’s ashes every day. When she was on her deathbed I was driving to see her and I had a terrible car accident. I was remarkably uninjured and I have always felt that there was a moment when our spirits tangled in some indescribable realm.
I believe that she protects me and wearing this locket reminds me of that.