This past December, while I was on holiday with my family in St. Barth, a friend showed up at our house with an elegant, bohemian gentleman. In his hand he carried a well-worn leather bag filled with the most extraordinary Tahitian pearls! His name was Yvan Mignot.
When Yvan discovered that I was a photographer, he asked if I would take some shots of his new collection of pearls. So we gathered up his beautiful children with mine, mixed in a few of our friends, and turned it in to one big family art project. In the process of creating these beautiful images for Mignot St. Barth, we discovered that we both come from eccentric, out-of-the-box families and spent our holiday sharing new adventures as well as our fascinating life stories. I’ll share Yvan’s with you here…
Yvan Mignot is the second-born in a nomadic tribe of nine siblings who grew up traveling between some of the most interesting and exotic places in the world. His unconventional parents were both born in France, but he and his first two siblings were born in North Africa, where he spent the first few years of his life. The family then went on to live in a variety of different places, and to travel the world, mainly by sailboat. He and his siblings discovered remote beaches with their mother, where they spent time collecting shells, sea glass and stones. This planted the seed for the shared passion most of the children would eventually develop: a love for the art of jewelry making.
About seven years ago, Yvan set sail from Portugal with his beautiful artist wife and four children on an adventure that ultimately ended in St Barth. He fell in love with the island and convinced his parents to open a Tahitian pearl shop in Gustavia. Recently, he ventured off on his own to create his jewelry line, MIGNOT ST BARTH.
Every year Yvan travels to Tahiti, to the remote Tuamotu Islands of French Polynesia, where he carefully hand picks the black pearls. This in itself is an amazing adventure, and we were fascinated by Yvan’s stories, which included encounters with sharks, helicopter surfing, and much more.
Remaining as close to nature as possible, never creating anything that flashes, Yvan’s pieces are organic and luxurious. He uses Tahitian pearls, pebbles from the beach, sea glass, hammered gold, uncut precious stones and clay beads, all strung on hand-worked leather to create an individually crafted, elegantly sophisticated, bohemian look. Each subtly dramatic piece seems to uniquely incorporate the marriage of the earth with the sea.