René Talmon L’Armée

Sometimes it’s the object who draws me, sometimes it’s the artisan.

It was the image of René, at work in his jewelery box which drew me. I just passed the shop, and didn’t take note of the name or address. I was new to Berlin and didn’t know the streets yet.

Then I decided to meet him. I walked back and forth along the streets of Mitte and couldn’t find him.

Then a bit over a year later, I moved around the corner. Now I pass and admire his shop, his style all the time.

I still haven’t looked at the jewelry.

What impresses me is the care he takes in bejeweling even the outside of the shop, with care, humor, and real creativity.

… Barricaded for months under a scaffolding, René elevated the humble scaffold bars with gold foil adornments. At Christmas, he leached the romance of the store into the street, bejeweling the sidewalk with a pendant of mistletoe.

He only works with Black Diamonds, a material so strange no one can decide if they have any value or not. (And they’re not black.)

I became slightly obsessed with this idea, as it seems to echo the feelings people have about me and much of the work I do.

I begged him to remake some earrings for me with black diamonds. He wasn’t interested in the project. I got schooled. He wants to make art.

He also did not want to be interviewed. As the only jeweler to be included in my book, he held a high honor, which he didn’t bother with.