Jean-Francois Fichot in Bali

The eponymous flagship store of late French designer and collector, Jean-François Fichot, resides amongst a row of shops and restaurants on Jalan Raya Pengosekan, east of the Ubud Monkey Forest. This gorgeously laid out boutique hosts a vast collection of the works of art from a man who had devoted most of his life scouring the globe for unusual, natural materials, which he later passionately incorporated into one-of-a-kind, contemporary jewellery and home decor pieces. Most are on sale, with several pieces obviously only for die-hard fine art collectors.

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Jean-François Fichot set off to explore the world in the late 1960s, tracing the Silk Road, wandering through India’s Cochin backstreets for antiques, picking up old French perfume bottles in Cuba, and searching for cut emeralds in Bangkok. He stayed for several years in Goa, and then moved on to Southeast Asia, to Malaysia and Thailand, before settling on Bali in 1978. Falling in love with Ubud’s artistic atmosphere, he built his house and studio here. With the help of a small group of skilled Balinese craftsmen, Jean-François grew his business, producing wearable art and luxury tabletop items. His passion lives on through his niece Chloe, who continues to oversee the current design and production since his passing away in Cuba in 2011.

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The boutique comprises two main sections. The first you’ll walk into is the main gallery, largely displaying home decor with glass displays and finely polished wooden cabinets, and the gallery’s lounge furniture are also intricately carved sets, elaborately lined with silver and gold. On another tabletop there’s an antique Roman glass bowl from Afghanistan delicately edged in vine-like 22k yellow gold, and a carved green aventurine statue of the elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesh, embellished with raw diamonds, Burmese lavender and Chinese jade, silver and 18k gold. The ladies at the store are happy to provide you with a tour, explaining each item in detail with its background story, material info and crafting processes. You might even be lucky enough to meet Chloe in person.

In the northeast section is a smaller private room that houses the exquisite jewellery collection. An open-beam ceiling with a Victorian chandelier and a regal sofa surrounded by brightly lit cabinets filled with glitzy trinkets is an impressive sight. Among the collection are beautiful cowry shell bracelets and floral motif Afghan bangles intertwined with golden and silver studs. A unique ‘gorgone naga’ made of Cuban sea fans is set with tourmalines, rubies, gold and silver, inspired by the common Balinese bracelets worn by priests. Gorgone (French for ‘sea fan’) is often used in jewellery for its deep black lustre. It is sometimes found washed up on tropical beaches, and is very pliable when heated.

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Creatively combining rare, organic and antique materials with 22k gold, sterling silver, and gemstones of different colours, cuts and sizes, the products resemble polished ancient treasures rather than ordinary wearable jewellery.  The late designer’s vision was to produce new one-off items from already rare and mysterious objects that eclipse their own original functions. Perhaps in no other gallery will you be able to find items from most of the world’s ancient cultures – Hindu, Buddhist, China’s Song and Tang dynasties, Mesopotamia, Rome and Egypt – all inside one small boutique. Prices are in US dollars, and you can bring home a gold studded sterling silver bracelet for $12,000 or a 22k golden ring set with a rectangular fiery ruby for $15,579. The production team also accepts special orders for tailor-made items.

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