Golden kiss

Barbara Ross-Innamorati is making a splash worldwide with her Norwalk-based jewelry line, Évocateur.

It all began the first time Barbara Ross-Innamorati laid eyes on Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss” at The National Gallery in London. Enamored by the painting’s gold leaf detail, she knew she would never forget its beauty.

Years after she returned from studying at The London School of Economics, the memory still played in her head, so much so that it led her down a different career path than the one she had known at Kraft Foods, JPMorgan Chase and Xerox.

“I was just mesmerized,” she says. “I woke up one morning just thinking about gold leaf. I was like, I want to make jewelry.”

It’s been almost 10 years since she launched her jewelry brand Évocateur in a Norwalk studio. It’s there that a small staff crafts delicate bangles, cuffs, earrings and necklaces adorned with artwork and gold leaf. Their creations glimmer in the mid-afternoon light. 

Ross-Innamorati works with artists such as Lucy Peveto to design pieces and is licensed to use the works of Erté for Art Deco-inspired works.

Boxes filled with jewelry from Ross-Innamorati’s collections line the walls, each based on a specific theme drawn from her travels — art, animals and gardens. They represent a journey in craftsmanship to learn how to make pieces using gold leaf and seal them properly so that they stay preserved forever.

“There was no pathway that we could follow. It’s a process that I came up with and it was perfected by our staff,” Ross-Innamorati says.

Long a mainstay of art, gold leaf has been growing in popularity as a lifestyle enhancement in recent years, turning up in everything from beauty products to chocolate. While most of the studio’s materials are sourced from New England, the gold leaf is imported from Italy. Each piece takes about a week to craft, as layers of resin used to seal the jewelry require 24 hours to dry. We watch as one employee delicately places gemstones on a cuff before adding flakes of gold leaf.

“Everyone applies the gold leaf in their own technique,” Ross-Innamorati says.

The time gone into perfecting the process has surely paid off. Ross-Innamorati recalls her first show — an “Open See” at Henri Bendel in Manhattan — where her pieces were first noticed by interested buyers.

“That was the store that really launched us. It gave us commercial validation.”

Now the art-driven jewelry can be found in premier retailers around the world, including Mary Jane Denzer in White Plains. Ross-Innamorati’s wares are sold on cruise ships and have a large market in China. They’ve also attracted industry recognition. Évocateur was a JCK Jewelers’ Choice Award finalist and finished in either first or second place for five years straight. The awards hang proudly at the entrance to the studio.

Despite the growth and success of her brand, Ross-Innamorati still works hard to promote it. She attends several trade shows a year, setting up shop at the accessories show at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in January. She and her team want to make sure that everyone is aware of the Évocateur style.

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