If fine jewelry is beyond your budget, then Les Néréides—a luxury French costume jewelry label named after the sea nymph progeny of Nereus, aka the Old Man of the Sea—may be the accessories you seek.
The French label, founded over a hundred years ago, employs fine jewelry techniques to create delicate handcrafted pieces. Fashioned from gold-dipped brass or hand-painted enamel, each item is unique, thanks to the craftsmen who fabricate these elaborate pieces.
Though they are diminutively scaled and finely wrought, Les Néréides’ products retail from about P2,800 for a cuff with a heart, or P4,600 for a necklace with a figurine pendant of a ballerina, to about P15,000-P20,000 for the more elaborate pieces.
Recognized for their distinctly whimsical style, the collections closely adhere to the fairytale realm: Squirrels rest on snow-limned branches lined with acorns, colorful birds perch on stones and blooms. “It reminds me of Hans Christian Andersen,” my friend remarked when she glimpsed snakes entwined with coral and sea flora, or stone orbs encased in the golden clasp of a four-legged creature.
But most of Les Néréides’ bijoux remind me of Edith Ogden’s work. While Andersen’s fairy tales often exhibit dark undertones, Ogden’s expressed a sweeter sensibility.
That’s not to say that the collection is tailored only for teenage females. While the ballerinas and some of the animal figurines work for younger women, other items, like a crab claw cuff or larger ornamented bijoux, merit a more sophisticated audience.
“I usually wear very simple outfits so I like to dress them up through my accessories,” says Anne Yambao, one of the official distributors of Les Néréides in Manila. “One thing I like about the brand is that the designs are varied and versatile. For example, Martha (her partner distributor) tends to be bold with her choice of accessories and I prefer to be subtle with mine, but we’re both able to find something that we like.”