Nice’s markets are haven for artisans

By Gillian Marcucci

NICE – Downtown on the evening of July 17, the streets are filled with people as they peruse the outdoor market. The sky is colorful and music fills the air.

There are many different items to shop for, the most popular being jewelry. All kinds – pearl necklaces, threaded bracelets, gold earrings, and rings of precious stone. Finding the perfect piece for a special someone wouldn’t be a problem here.

The French Riveria town of Nice is home to many artisans from diverse cultures.

Because there are so many jewelers in downtown Nice, there is a tight-knit community, consisting of immigrants and locals alike with diverse backgrounds.

Michel Richard is one of these locals who sells women’s jewelry. He loves to travel, but when he was traveling in America, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, so he returned to his hometown to be near his family in Nice. When he arrived, some of his friends were selling jewelry and he began picking out stones with them for fun. This sparked his love for stones, so he started a jewelry business of his own.

Though he has lots of beautiful women’s jewelry, he will soon be getting black pearls from Tahiti and begin making leather bracelets for men. He says that Tahiti makes the best pearls, making them very expensive. He also prefers to buy stones from small family businesses, because he can trust that the stones are natural and undamaged.

Though he works other jobs, his jewelry business consumes most of his time. Richard says his favorite part of the business is meeting good people. “It’s a good energy. You pass along energy and the people that are into stones have the same energy so it’s all a positive environment,” Richard said.

Like Richard, Mark Amme also grew up in Nice and later traveled the world. He danced from ages 6 to 43, in Paris, Shang-hai and on cruise ships. Toward the end of his career, he danced and choreographed for eight years in China. He decided it was time to retire, so he moved back home to Nice.

Amme says that moving back to your home country as an ex-patriate’ can make it very difficult to find work, so he began a new trade of selling handbags but soon realized that they weren’t selling as much as jewelry, so he decided to begin selling jewelry too.

Amme says that his favorite part of being a jeweler is “finding a new kind of stone.” He says he travels in person to do so because, “I like to choose everything by myself. It’s more interesting.”

Originally from Ecuador, Luis Pastello grew up in Nice and lived in Italy as a young adult. He is another Nice native who returned after the pandemic. At first he began working as a driver/chauffeur around the city, but soon began selling jewelry as it is an art that comes naturally to him.

He found his love for jewelry-making at the age of 15. His parents, (who had learned from their parents), taught him the craft, so the jewelry business has run in the family for three generations. He orders his stones and gold plating from Italy and different threads from Ecuador for his bracelets.

Though Pastello has only been selling jewelry in the area for one year, he looks forward to making more friends in the business. He says his favorite part of the jewelry business is “talking to different people, listening to different languages, and seeing the different cultures.”

Categories: Europe Travel

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