An Interview with Paula Pantolin of Pantolin Fine Jewellry and La Maison BagatelleWritten by Meghan Scott
Fine Jewelry designer, Paula Pantolin is a true artist in her craft, surrounded by a lifetime of creativity and drawing inspiration from around the world, her pieces speak differently to each individual who adorns these treasures. Paula started her brand immediately after school; “I have studied art and always been working on art along the way, creative projects and work.” Working on only commissions and gallery exhibitions with Pantolin, Paula decided to simplify everything and start an aktiebolag (Swedish for “corporation”) for Pantolin last year and started this collection. Her collections are a beautiful selection of truly exclusive pieces; 18k gold chain necklaces, small rose gold rings adorned with precious gems and a subtle Pantolin signature locket charm hanging down, stunning lockets with carved mother of pearl to mimic fish scale, the details are extaordinary. I can imagine wearing the same piece to my best friend's wedding and also with an everyday street style look, the diversity is limitess. Probably where her raw sophistication sentiment was inspired from. I had the chance to spend time with this inspiring gem and learn more about her story behind her and her brand Pantolin Fine Jewellery and their sister brand La Maison Bagatelle.
What sort of decisions on ethical practices in regards to consumption, sustainability and sourcing do you implement in your company?
I used to do make everything myself with precious metals and stones sourced from ethical mines. I have now found a great workshop in Bangkok that also produces fine jewelry for Chanel and Louis Vuitton. I visit the workshops as much as possible; there is no harsh labour or child labour, it’s a high quality working environment and recycled materials are used as much as possible.Obviously there are absolutely no blood diamonds used and the workshop’s owner’s family actually owns the mines in which the precious stones are sourced from, which is a very high standard facility and there are no middle man/hands involved.
Do you take your ethical practices into your everyday life?
Yes, indeed! My shopping decision for example; all my furniture is either vintage or remade, same with most of my clothes. I don’t buy fast fashion, I’d rather remake something or buy one nice piece instead of two trendy pieces. I try to think twice (difficult since I love beautiful things) and don’t over consume, my mother was always swapping things instead of just buying new stuff. I believe my clients also have an awareness to ethical practices, like me, they want a more beautiful world, so they may combine their Pantolin with a family heirloom or a special vintage piece that is special to them.
Could you tell us a story about your development as an artist?
I feel like I can’t remember not feeling like an artist, from very early memories when I was about four or five sitting on a swing and looking at everything and how painfully beautiful, trying to understand and then when I got older realizing that the real world wasn’t so beautiful and just wanting to make it meaningful and give some beauty to everybody.
Do your children play a part in the Pantolin Story?
As the heritage continues, they are basically brought up in a studio, no matter the size of the home. I'm a quite messy person so sketches are everywhere..There are always ideas flowing, the thinking process. They see me sketching , developing the designs, give their opinions. Recently, my oldest daughter is giving a more mature point of view and input, which is very inspiring. I don’t push it though, I let it happen organically.
They’ll probably continue the legacy then?
My grandmother was an artist, and my mother; it’s the wholeness of it all, I’m not going to write it on the wall, but it’s there. My father is an inventor and entrepreneur , the legacy will probably proceed in one way or another..
Where do you mostly draw your inspiration from?
I always seem to throw myself into different kinds of challenges, which often are very exciting and inspiring. My mind needs the ocean, I always want to be near the ocean, I collect energy from the water, that’s what makes it flow. Nature is a big influence. Passion. Also from culture; books, music, theater, things that have a story. I love to try finding the meaning of it all, the spectre of small things happening , I want to interpret to exquisiteness.
And you can see it in your work, it’s worth the fight against the mainstream, especially these days. I have seen that there is a new “new” way of creating diamonds basically in a lab, compressing the carbon atoms? Not sure of the full science of it, but what do you think of this way?
I always go for the real things! , I don’t want to take away the magic of the stone, the history; for example, black diamonds, the are so mystic and raw. And as mentioned before, I am very ethical in my practice, there is no blood on my diamonds.
In your collections you have a very unique custom piece, the Sky cuff, it has a really cool story behind it, could you tell us about it?
Oh yes, It's a “fuck off” piece of jewellery;) One of my best customers was unhappy, and later she got divorced. She asked me if I could make something beautiful for her, and she gave me a pouch with the wedding rings and a lot more gold and free hands for me, and I melted it all down , took out the diamonds, and made the special Sky cuff, that she wears everyday.
You started your subsidiary or “sister” brand Maison Bagatelle, could you tell us a little more about MB?
That was my birthday present to Pantolin's 10 years anniversary! My customers were going on about me making also a custom line, and one night I woke up with the La Maison bagatelle idea. A chance for me to play, use my sense for fashion and also, since I earlier designed for another bijoux brand, I learned how to scale up, and I wanted to do that without making less quality in the pieces. Also the ethically production was a quality choice to me. I want all my Jewellery to last a long time.
You had an injury a little while back that was quite scary and could have changed your life course, could you elaborate a little on that and how you’ve moved forward and fought through that time?
After many years producing my own jewellery by the bench, and as it turned out , of some defect I didn't know I had, suddenly I lost sense in my right side, I couldn't move my arm, and absolutely no drawing! I was used to headache for many years of stress; trying to coexist my company, extra work while raising three small kids, however this time it was different. After an X-ray they realized it was critical, and my neck was really injured. After the operation which left me with a metal cage in my spine, my doctor told me that I could never work the way I do again. I took a time to think, took a really deep breath and decided to get help with the production. I was sketching to get well. So instead of giving up, I upscaled. I managed quite surprisingly ended up getting the dream workshop to work with me! I gave them a three hour presentation and they let me in right away. Now I create the ideas, the samples and so some of the production myself and they do the rest. In my family, the heritage of running your own business and never giving up is something I'm so proud of.
If you want to treat yourself or that someone special to a really unique piece, or want to see more, visit her here and here for Maison La Bagatelle. Also, check out the editorial with exclusively Pantolin and Maison Bagatelle pieces here.