Retrouvaí: Fusing Nostalgia and Meaning

No simple solitaire: The Los Angeles based boutique brand is creating bridal jewelry with substance.

September 20, 2023  |  Kate Matthams

With generous volume, colorful stones and a fresh aesthetic, award-winning boutique brand Retrouvaí has gained prominence for infusing its jewelry with personal significance. That approach remains unchanged when it comes to bridal, as its modern love heirlooms take cues from vintage designs and contemporary art. Glittering stones rest amid gold curves and pleats, forming rings of substance that appeal to brides looking for something a little more individual.

“Our clients come to us for bridal jewelry off the beaten path,” says Retrouvaí founder and 2023 Gem Award nominee Kirsty Stone. “We are not known for a four-prong solitaire on a wire-thin shank. We approach bridal jewelry with purpose, and many of the collections we are adapting for engagement rings and wedding bands already carry significance or symbolism.”

Playing with materials

Drawing on that blend of nostalgia and meaning, Retrouvaí collections feature engraving, intaglios, inlays, polished hard stones, and geometric cuts. Clients typically ask for customized versions of existing pieces — like the Impetus interlocking puzzle ring, which won Best in Bridal at the 2023 Couture Awards — or designs from scratch, like the one-of-a-kind Diamond Loop ring.

“We work exclusively with natural diamonds for both one-of-a-kind pieces and the melee stones in some of our signature collections, like Magna and Compass,” says Stone. She favors channel settings, step cuts and antique gems, which lend her jewels that retro flavor.

The brand gets its name from the French retrouvailles, which conveys the idea of rediscovering or reconnecting with something or someone. In keeping with that spirit, it places great importance on emotional significance and traditional techniques. A family-run team handcrafts the jewels in Los Angeles, not far from Retrouvaí’s headquarters.

This includes pieces like the Cascading Ball chain from the new Domino collection, which symbolizes how small actions can have a much bigger impact. “Many pieces incorporate lapidary work,” Stone notes. “We also work with a lot of emerald and tourmaline, [which] require a high level of attention to detail” to prevent them from getting damaged during production.

Ideas for specific collections come from within, as expressions of feelings like fearlessness
or love.

From sequins to success

Stone came to jewelry after a career in architecture. Memories of playing dress-up at her costume-designer grandmother’s house, decking herself out with rolls of sequins, bespeak a creative childhood. Yet “I only realized my emotional attachment to jewelry as a teenager, when I inherited a piece my grandmother had made for herself,” she recalls. “That’s what led to jewelry being my life’s passion. Ideas for specific collections come from within, as expressions of feelings like fearlessness or love.”

Now she’s the one making jewels for loved ones. The Canada native moved to Los Angeles with no jewelry design training and “convinced a jeweler here to allow me to shadow his operations,” she relates. “The same jeweler produced my first samples, and we still keep in touch today.” Although it took her an entire year to find her voice, many of those original pieces remain her most popular.

‘Quality over quantity’

“The clients who wear Retrouvaí best do so with purpose and self-confidence,” says Stone. “It’s about feeling joyous and confident, and that radiates outward.” This is no doubt the draw for brides-to-be, who want to feel their best on the big day.

Clients range from twentysomethings to women in their 70s. What they share is a strong personal style and a desire for “whimsical pieces that commemorate their personal journeys,” she says.

Since 2015, Retrouvaí has grown. Its creations are now available across North America at independent boutiques such as Twist and larger chains like Neiman Marcus, as well as through online sellers like Net-a-Porter and Matches. Up next for fall is an evolution of her Fantasy signet ring collection, which will offer greater personalization with bold, exquisitely crafted engraved and intaglio jewelry.

Yet despite the brand’s expansion, Stone’s team remains small to preserve the agility and responsiveness that are key to personal commissions. “I truly believe in quality over quantity,” she says — an approach that will surely stand her in good stead as she continues in the bridal and engagement market.

Main image: Kirsty Stone. (Retrouvaí)

This article is from the September-October 2023 issue of Rapaport Magazine. View other articles here.

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Retrouvaí: Fusing Nostalgia and Meaning

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