Phanes’s tabletop collection summons caviar dreams.
The tortoiseshell set her mother had given her was beautiful. Graceful with age and intention, it was an attractive default for serving caviar, but Tania Lemarteleur, the founder of Phanes, sought something else. “Something with modern lines, but elegant and delicate, as you could see in old pieces,” she describes. “One day, I was reading a book about the history of shagreen and saw 17th- and 18th-century Japanese katanas,” Lemarteleur reveals. “I fell in love with the forms and the mixture of shagreen with metal. By looking at the black shagreen, I thought of caviar, [and] from there, thought of the caviar spoon.” The Mademoiselle caviar spoon (shown at right, $4,221)—part Coco Chanel defiance, part Andrée Putman clarity—is a sensual expression, a utensil with a luxurious agenda, assembled from pure 18-karat gold, mother-of-pearl, and black shagreen.
From her workshop in Paris’s 11th arrondissement, Lemarteleur designs a couture-quality collection of caviar-tasting accessories and tableware brought to life by elite French artisans (some have earned the Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant designation by the French government). These goldsmiths, engravers, inlayers, and jewelry specialists produce handcrafted creations that rouse us from prosaic dining.
The personal caviar set (far right, $1,214) has exceptional style and flaunts Phanes’s elegant innovation: a gold-plated brass pedestal that keeps caviar cold. With noble materials—sterling silver, gold, vermeil, blue and green abalone, and stingray—each Phanes edition possesses scintillating provenance, like the alter ego of a cherished heirloom.