The Gilded Lace collection is jewelry designed and made by the Swedish-born, New York-based Monika Knutsson, who has a background in fashion and accessories design. Monika occupies a unique niche in the jewelry world by repurposing antique and vintage lace, and then transforming it into distinctive ultra-lightweight necklaces, cuffs, bangles, earrings and rings. The lace gets solidified when it is dipped in 24k gold, sterling silver, white gold, platinum, or rose gold.
Monika's designs give new life to forgotten or cast-away lace. Yet as always when making her heirloom jewelry, she and her crew take great care in cutting away as little as possible from the original lace.
It's also Monika's intention to add value to a craft that was typically—and all but invariably--made by women, and very skilled women, at that. It is her way to honor the lacemakers' craftsmanship while simultaneously creating modern and beautiful pieces that will last a long time.
This jewelry likewise accommodates and honors the lace patterns it is made from. In Monika's hands, giant flowers become spectacular (but lightweight) earrings. The angular lace corner of a tablecloth becomes a V-neck necklace. Minute curlicues and tender buds re-emerge as tiny earrings.
In tune with the times, Monika's ultralightweight designs exude a delicacy that's eagerly sought after in jewelry these days, and that also celebrates a forthright 21st century femininity—both of which hold an appeal for women of all ages. Among Gilded Lace's aficionados are Beyoncé, her mother Tina Knowles, Whoopi Goldberg, Christina Ricci, Idina Menzel, Rinko Kikuchi and the Man Repeller blogger Leandra Medine.
What’s more … Monika's jewelry is a daily exercise in recycling.
In addition to producing signed and numbered limited-edition collection pieces, Monika does personal wedding designs, using lace discreetly snipped from the mother- or grandmother-of-the bride's wedding dress. This lace is transformed into heirloom jewelry for the bride, groom (cufflinks, for instance), and perhaps other members of the wedding party. Monika's Gilded Lace jewelry has won the Wedding Wire Couple's Choice Award every year since 2017.
Monika also accepts commissions for an important new direction in home design: lace room dividers, lampshades, and candlesticks - which exquisitely reflect the surrounding light.
Monika grew up in Jönköping, Sweden, where she loved watching her mother and grandmothers embroidering delicate patterns on tablecloths. She also carefully observed her mother's and sister's clothing. Even at a young age, she developed an appreciation for design and hand-made garments.
She received an international business degree from the University of Linköping, Sweden and worked as a business executive in Stockholm, Berlin, and Philadelphia.
Her business degree certainly helps Monika maintain her smoothly functioning artisanal business. But in the late 1990’s, she chose to pursue her fashion interests instead. So she enrolled in classes at the Moore College in Art in Philadelphia, where she was living at the time. And then she moved to Paris, where she completed her degree in fashion design at ESMOD, the French fashion school. Afterwards, she went to work for the French designer Isabel Marant. At Marant's studio, Monika developed embroidery, lace designs, and fabric prints, while also designing handbag collections. Having spent many hours at the Parisian flea markets, collecting old embroidery and lace, she began thinking about designing and producing a collection of solidified, gilded and silvered lace jewelry.
After nine years in Paris, Monika moved to New York. Her large collection of old lace made it across the Atlantic too. And in 2008 she started designing her lace jewelry. The Gilded Lace collection, as it's known, is made from vintage or antique lace dipped in 24k gold or silver. Some items are set with gemstones. Monika and her small artisanal crew make each piece by hand. Collection pieces are all limited editions, signed and numbered. When they're sold, they're accompanied by a written tale about their origin, plus a sample of the original lace.
The Gilded Lace collection now has a cult following.
Previous media coverage includes feature articles in the New York York Times, (NY Times) nycitywoman.com (NYCitywoman) and an Island Weddings edition of Martha's Vineyard Magazine (MV Weddings), as well as jewelry appearances in Vogue, Elle, Ebony, Nylon, Lucky, O the Oprah Magazine, and American Craft.
Monika and her team make all jewelry by hand. Each piece is limited edition, signed and numbered and comes with a story and a sample of the original lace.