The Wonderland collection recalls Mimi’s magical childhood memories of days spent in the family garden growing fruits and vegetables with her late mother. It’s the embodiment of an imaginary world where Mimi explores her creativity. Wonderland is a nurturing place full of vibrant creatures and flora that symbolize qualities and traits important to Mimi. Meet the whimsical Bunny, Bee, Orchid and Oak tree, all rendered in precious or carved stones and organically textured 18K gold.
The Wonderland collection is the manifestation of a series of personal journeys that have led me to a colorful place in life, a vibrant enchanted forest where I am free to let go and drift into my imagination. It’s a nurturing world full of exuberant creatures and flora that represent traits I value. The bee, for example, is an emotional symbol for me because it represents the buzz of life. She’s surrounded by a close community and makes one of the sweetest elixirs in existence: honey. But if you disturb her, you’ll be stung. It’s this contradiction that draws me to her. The other characters—the bunny, the owl, the butterfly, the ladybug, the bird, the orchid, and the oak—all come to life in the precious jewelry of this profoundly personal collection.
The garden is another rich source of inspiration for my Wonderland collection. Gardening was my late mother’s great passion outside of her business. It holds a special place in my heart as she taught me how to plant flowers and vegetables when I was a little girl. It became our pastime and was something we shared together. With my little shovel and watering pot, I felt like a professional gardener! Her vividly colored roses in hues of red, pink, violet, and yellow were my favorite. They bloomed so gracefully and gently yet their thorns still managed to prick me.
In one nook, we had a mini orchard of peach and snow pear trees while vegetables and fruits like eggplants, squash, melons, and tomatoes grew elsewhere in our very eclectic garden. Most of our dinners came from this magical place. Here, my imagination would roam free. These were some of my happiest moments around the age of 11, spending time digging and getting dirt under my nails while learning from my mother to care for the soil so our garden would grow.
In 2012, I started to unveil the Wonderland collection with a series of one-of-a-kind statement rings. The first Wonderland character, the bunny, was modeled after Milkshake, my childhood stuffed animal. I commissioned a very gifted stone carver I knew in Idar-Oberstein to fabricate little bunnies from different types of opal. Each ring’s setting had its own pasture decorated with varying iterations of grass, tiny flowers, bumble bees and mushrooms all crowned with one of these whimsical carved opal bunnies.
The Wonderland collection allows me to spread love, positivity and hope to the universe. We all deserve to visit a magical place to elude the frenetic pace of daily life. I invite you to take my hand and escape with me into my Wonderland. — XO MIMI
Behind the Scenes
Wonderland, Mimi’s most prolific and dynamic collection to date, highlights her eye for detail, proportion and color. The collection is designed to be collected and layered, to tell personal stories and to inspire us to take a moment to appreciate our surroundings in life.
The Wonderland project began with a series of sketches and a few different metal working techniques followed by trials to achieve its signature texture. This hand-carved pattern mimics the look and feel of forest trees and wood. It can be found on all Wonderland rings, rondelles, hoops and necklaces.
Stone carving plays an equal role in the signature look of the collection. From Opal bunny rings, spectrolite turtles and tourmaline frogs to moonstone owls, each carved creature lives in a one-of-a-kind piece. The team experimented with a number of materials before settling on the final stones for each creature. The Wonderland Bunny is the star of the collection. Each ring in the Bunny series is a true one-of-a-kind. From the carved opal to the setting, no two are alike. Each opal itself is unique. They vary in matrix, fire and color. The design process begins with a sketch to review each piece of rough material to find the best way to showcase the bunnies' attributes.
Next, the team photographs and sculpts different parts of the stone for best positioning. The carving takes 12-15 hours with time in between for the lapidary to rest his hands. Stones can easily break while carving. It takes a highly skilled lapidary with years of experience to minimize the chance of breakage.
After carving, the stone is polished to bring out its beauty. Each bunny is set within a handcrafted garden sculpture that mimics a natural habitat. This step begins with a wax mold which is then cast into silver where each blade of grass is fine-tuned. All settings are unique and designed around the Bunny from the pose, the color, and size to the position. Within the garden, various motifs such as mushrooms, bumblebees, carrots or flowers are all hand-carved and sprinkled with precious stones. Each figurine requires a microscope and a steady hand to set the tiny stones, all less than 1mm.
Beyond the exquisitely carved stone creatures are whimsical 18k gold bumblebees, ladybugs, flowers, butterflies, birds and bunnies. These Wonderland dwellers rest on ears, perch on stacking rings, and intertwine within strands of precious beads.
The gold Butterfly and Lady Bug ring was the most challenging piece in this series. The development process took longer than the actual fabrication. Hours of thought went into the perfect position, balance and proportion of each component to appear as if it was floating on the wearer's finger. Once these details were determined, the team moved on to the silver models. The diamond setter then evaluates what size diamonds to use to push the metal tolerance to maintain a delicate look. The twig design for the ring’s band took 16 hours to achieve its organic, fluid shape. The stack rings are designed to nestle together in any combination the wearer chooses. For this purpose, several rings feature a varied thickness in metal.
Another playful piece in the group, the Wonderland diamond Twig necklace, features 100 diamonds with a total carat weight of 0.91 ctw. Mimi and her team worked many hours to arrive at the perfect placement of diamonds along the twig in order to achieve a natural, organic look.
This collection is truly a labor of love. It took an orchestrated symphony of skilled artisans to realize such a magical Wonderland of jewelry. Only the finest instruments were used to sculpt the etched lines of a twig; the detailed knob on a branch; to set the rubies on a miniature ladybug and to cut the gold wire of a bumble bee’s antenna. The master jeweler’s fingers are large in comparison to these precious creatures, a true testament to their degree of finesse.