Long before French-born Hortense Bonneau was designing her line, she was a kid with an eye for jewelry. “When I was five, I went to Florence with my dad. There’s one street with jewelers on both sides, and I wanted to go inside every store,” she says. “Then, at 10, I went Place Vendôme in Paris, spending hours looking into the windows of Van Cleef & Arpels and Cartier.”
But she ended up working as a photo editor at a magazine for years before realizing she had an itch. “I wanted to do something with my hands, but I didn’t know what. So my husband sat me down and asked me what I liked in life,” she recalls. The first thing that came to mind: jewelry.
When she moved to San Fran with her movie-animator man, she made the switch. “I washed dogs. That’s how I made money to buy a bench and tools,” she says. One year later, Hortense registered at the Academy of Art and the Alan Revere Academy, and after working as a metalsmith for other designers, launched her own fine-jewelry label in 2007. Over the years, it’s evolved as her life has—taking a pause when her daughter Lola was born, making the move to L.A. when she did, getting daintier when the mood struck her. “Step by step, that’s how I grew.” —alisha prakash
BEHIND THE SCENES
Key to the City Hortense Bonneau’s All-Time Fave Spots in Paris
Where to get a good éclair…and some really spectacular baby clothes.
And the minimalist awesomeness that fills it.