Fun fact: I did my studies in Fashion Design. Up until 23 years old, I wanted to be a creative director at a renown fashion house. Like Stella McCartney or something. No biggie.
Why did I change career paths? To be continued in another post! Or with my future therapist, who knows. I’m kidding. Only half-kidding. Anyyyways. That’s not my point.
What I’m trying to say is that, besides being a copywriter/journalist, I’m a huge design fan.
So when Jade Boutilier, founder of Montreal jewellery brand Captve, suggested we collaborate together to create a custom ring *, my inner Stella screamed (in her best British accent): GO FOR IT GIRL!
The Making of a Custom Ring
A little before the holidays, I went to meet Jade at her studio in the Mile-Ex. She was so nice and welcoming, I ended up staying for two hours! She’s from the West Coast (BC, to be exact), so that explains it. We talked about her background, her inspirations, gemstones, and obviously, my precious ring (said in a Gollum voice, obviously).
For those who don’t know Captve, it’s a brand that kind of stands out from the rest. Why? It doesn’t do minimalism. (Don’t get me wrong, I looove minimalist jewellery, it’s just that we’ve been seeing it a lot lately.) Instead, it revolves around surrealism, organic shapes, unexpected details, and bright colours. A visual identity that I made sure was part of my ring.
Inspired by her Ruin collection, we went for a raw and irregular ring, cast in gold, reminiscent of a stone explosion. As the cherry on top, we decided to top it with three different-sized tourmalines in the most gorgeous olive green ever.
And a few weeks later, I had this beauty gracing my dry, wintry hand.
Saying that I’m in love would be downplaying it. I’ve been wearing it non-stop since I got it. In the shower, doing the dishes, jogging, sleeping—I think it’s starting to fuse with my actual skin.
Getting to know Jade and the brand turned out to be such a beautiful experience and discovery, I couldn’t keep it all to myself. Which brings me to the second part of this article: How would you feel about meeting Jade? Great. Because I asked her a couple of questions.
Tell me about you. Where are you from? What made you want to start Captve?
My childhood was spent growing up in a small town along the sunshine coast of B.C. while my angsty teen years were spent in city life in Guelph, Ontario. At that point, fashion was already a mean to express myself, whether it was wearing piles of daisy necklace as a child or cut-off tees as a teen.
When I moved to Toronto in 2008 to study at Ontario College of Art & Design University, I knew I was interested in pursuing either Jewellery or Textile design. It quickly became apparent I had far more patience for metalsmithing than sewing.
In my third year at OCAD, I went to study in Florence, Italy. It was there that I became certain I wanted to become a jeweller. Florence is such a romantic city. Walking those cobblestone streets, being surrounded by Renaissance masterpieces everyday. All while on route to my own jewellery studio.
While in Italy, I also fell in love with the lost wax casting technique. This is an ancient technique that allows you to carve a positive form from wax and then cast it into a precious metal.
When I returned to Canada, I instantly moved to Montreal to keep the dream alive. I worked in fashion for a few years as an Assistant Accessory Buyer while slowly building up a jewellery studio of my own. Now, I manage the Collectif Studio located in the Montreal’s Mile-Ex neighbourhood, sharing a space with twelve other local designers.
Where does the name Captve come from?
The name derives from a series of sculptures carved by Michelangelo, which were originally intended for the tomb of Julius II. Michelangelo carved human forms emerging from solid blocks of marble, leaving them in an unfinished state with some of the block still visible. He called the series Pirgioni, which can be translated to prisoners or captives, as if the forms were captive to the stone.
These sculptures always stuck with me. Years later, after moving to Montreal knowing my jewellery brand was going to be focused on carving, I recalled the name Captive.
Dropping the “i” was an aesthetic choice, but it also leaves the word unfinished, which mimics the likes of the sculptures I had seen years before. I also like that it removes the “self” from the brand.
What inspired your latest collection, Curio? There’s something very surrealist about it.
During quarantine, I started carving human forms for fun. I really enjoyed the irony of creating jewellery pieces that replicate the act of wearing jewellery. Hence the little nose necklace wearing a nose-ring, or the pair of ear earrings which have a pearl earring dangling from a lobe.
Curio is meant to have a playful air about it. Of course, I looked into Dali’s jewellery for inspiration along with another favourite of mine, Man Ray, for his approach of capturing the human body.
Curio revolves a lot around the sense organs—nose, ears, mouth. Of the five senses, which one speaks to you the most?
That’s a hard one! I’d have to say touch. It’s through touch that I get the most satisfaction of creating and experiencing an art piece. Which makes going to museums quite frustrating, haha.
Although I’m a big fan of minimalist jewellery, there’s something really refreshing with bolder pieces like yours. Was that a conscious choice, not going the minimalism route?
Yes. My jewellery is meant to feel more like art rather than your normal everyday wear. Although there are some great minimalist designers out there, I definitely prefer a dramatic piece that’s going to reveal a thing or two about the person who wears it.
And I want my jewellery to resonate with my clients. I want my jewellery to become heirloom pieces that get handed down for generations.
You do a lot of custom rings. What does that process look like?
Made-to-measure has become a favourite design process for me! It’s much longer and more complicated, but working with a client and designing a ring just for them is definitely the most satisfying.
In terms of process, normally I work from a range of images or any references the client has for me. We’ll discuss the design extensively and then I’ll draw up a rendering. Once the design is confirmed, I’ll begin sourcing any stones I need and move onto carving the piece. When the carving is finished, the piece is cast and then I begin the clean up process of sanding and fabricating the piece. Usually the full process takes between 4-6 weeks.
Learn more about Captve right here.
*Jade generously gifted me my ring. A thousand times thank you Jade <3
Joëlle Paquette is a sutainable fashion and clean beauty blogger and copywriterbased in Montreal, Canada. After 10 years of working as a journalist for different media outlets, she now specializes in writing conscious content for brands built on strong environmentally and socially responsible values. She also pet a corgi once—a very special day she will never forget.
Follow her on Instagram to make sure you don’t miss out on anything @veryjoelle 🌼
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