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New angle on the bangle: Westport entrepreneur finds way to make her line shine


Photo: C. Camarena / Contributed Photo

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Westport resident Barbara Ross-Innamorati launched Norwalk-based Evocateur, a jewelry company that creates works inspired by antiquity and art made with a distinct gold-leaf, and sterling silver leaf wrapping process. less

Westport resident Barbara Ross-Innamorati launched Norwalk-based Evocateur, a jewelry company that creates works inspired by antiquity and art made with a distinct gold-leaf, and sterling silver leaf wrapping … more


Photo: C. Camarena / Contributed Photo

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Evocateur, a Norwalk-based jewelry company, has earned industry awards for its line, which includes cuffs that feature original designs and artwork, created with a hand-gilded gold-leaf technique.

Evocateur, a Norwalk-based jewelry company, has earned industry awards for its line, which includes cuffs that feature original designs and artwork, created with a hand-gilded gold-leaf technique.


Photo: Contributed Photo

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A model wears several pieces from the Evocateur line, created and founded by Westport resident Barbara Ross-Innamorati. In seven years, she has launched multiple collections of bangles, cuffs, necklaces and earrings that are inspired by her interests, including art, travel and Old World civilizations. less

A model wears several pieces from the Evocateur line, created and founded by Westport resident Barbara Ross-Innamorati. In seven years, she has launched multiple collections of bangles, cuffs, necklaces and … more


Photo: C.Camarena / Contributed Photo

Image 4 of 5

A model wears jewelry from the Evocateur line, created and founded by Westport resident Barbara Ross-Innamorati.

A model wears jewelry from the Evocateur line, created and founded by Westport resident Barbara Ross-Innamorati.


Photo: C. Camarena / Contributed Photo

Image 5 of 5

Evocateur, a Norwalk-based jewelry company has earned industry awards for its line, which includes cuffs that feature original designs and artwork, created with a hand-gilded gold-leaf technique. Among the collections is a collaboration with Hearst Magazines Harper’s Bazaar, to transform some of the iconic, early 1900s cover designs that Erte created for the magazine into jewelry. less

Evocateur, a Norwalk-based jewelry company has earned industry awards for its line, which includes cuffs that feature original designs and artwork, created with a hand-gilded gold-leaf technique. Among the … more


Photo: Contributed Photo

New angle on the bangle: Westport entrepreneur finds way to make her line shine

Barbara Ross-Innamorati didn’t know it then, but a jaunt to the National Gallery in London decades ago would spark the dream that, on this morning, has her carefully assessing the finish on one of about a half-dozen gold cuffs.

“Each piece can take a week,” she says. Hiccups can happen — perhaps the finish is not as smooth as it should be, or the design could use a bit more flecks of gold. If so, it will go back to one of the eight artisans Ross-Innamorati employs at her Norwalk studio. In this lofty space, the team creates the pendants, bangles, bracelets, earrings and cuffs — which the company, Evocateur, is best known for — that make up her line.

“Essentially, everything is one-of-a-kind,” says the Westport resident, of the art-inspired designs that feature a gold-leaf (and silver-leaf) hand-gilding technique that Ross-Innamorati developed. “When I do trade shows, people come in and say they have never seen anything like this before.”

It’s best to go back to that visit to the National Gallery in the 1970s, when Ross-Innamorati, then in her early 20s and attending school in London, set her eyes on the gold leaf technique of Gustav Klimt, the 19th-century Austrian painter known for his luminous works, including “The Kiss.” “I was mesmerized,” she says.

Those extremely thin sheets of gold, just 4 millionths of an inch, however, soon receded into her memory as she attended graduate school, got married, had children and launched a career in corporate finance. She worked for some big names, such as JP Morgan Chase, Kraft Foods and Xerox. That was until 2002, when, because of downsizing, she found herself without a job. She consulted a bit with private equity firms, but then some 10 years ago, that gold leaf came back.

“I woke up thinking about it,” she says. “It was as crazy as that. It was not that something jarred me, or someone came up to me and said you should make jewelry, even though I always loved jewelry. I just woke up one morning and started thinking about gold leaf, and said, ‘I have to get some gold leaf.’ ”

Her entrepreneurial journey began that instant, as she saw a niche. There was a space to occupy between the expensive pieces of solid gold and the less-expensive gold-plated costume jewelry that tended to fade. She could create a luminous, enduring and relatively affordable look. While she was at it, she would incorporate her love of art, ancient civilizations, travel and fashion. She just had to figure out a way to do it, which is when she realized why there was a niche.

“It’s a beautiful result, but it takes a lot of time and patience,” she says, laughing, adding it took her about 18 months of trial and error before she came up with the product and a proprietary technique. Basically, her team has found a way to wrap a base with 22K gold leaf, keep it from disintegrating, transfer original designs and images (or attach vintage elements), seal it with a combination of enamels and come up with a process that creates a protective shell that offers a shimmer and iridescence that complements the warmth of the gold. “I adapted a 17th-century gilding technique to do this. First and foremost, I would call us gilders.”

She officially launched her business in 2009. The pieces largely range from about $150 to $440.

Ross-Innamorati approaches her line as a fashion house, putting out two to three collections a year. It is through her cuffs collection that one best sees her attention to design and her love of art. The designs are unique, from the Babylonian lion in the “Ancients” collection to the jellies (as in jellyfish) in the “Oceana” line. They at once seem contemporary and really, really old. It comes from the “flecking,” as it is called, where specks of gold leaf are applied over the design. “I wanted them to look like something someone has uncovered, pulled up from an archaeological site, and then started brushing off the dirt to reveal the gold and the design beneath.”

One could lose an afternoon just thumbing through the folder upon folder she keeps of designs — snakeskins, skeletons, ace of spades, poppies, butterflies, Eye of Horus — all different and distinct. She can customize, too, which has been a boon for the retailers with which she works. Recently, she was approached by Hearst Magazines’ Harper’s Bazaar, to transform some of the iconic, early 1900s cover designs that Erte created for the magazine into jewelry, including cuffs, earrings and necklaces.

Her work is in about 300 stores, including the Met Opera gift shop and Lux Bond and Green, which has locations throughout Connecticut, including Westport and Greenwich. She’s won some top industry awards, but has received even more visibility by the various famous wrists and necks that have opted to wear her work, including Katie Couric, “Dancing with the Stars’ ” Julianne Hough and singer Lauryn Hill. Even once-hopeful presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has one.

“She has an Ol’ Glory cuff,” Ross-Innamorati says. “We are waiting to see if she wears it.”

[email protected]; Twitter: @xtinahennessy

Published 12:00 am, Saturday, November 26, 2016

Source

http://www.ctpost.com/living/article/New-angle-on-the-bangle-Westport-entrepreneur-10633760.php