Joannie Rochette never imagined having a hand in designing a piece of jewelry.
But the fame that has followed her since the 2010 Olympic Winter Games has taken the 24-year-old native of Île-Dupas, Que., in many new directions.
Her latest venture is a collaboration with Birks, a leading Canadian jewelry retailer, which is now offering a heart-shaped Joannie Rochette Pendant in sterling silver to its customers.
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the pendants is being donated to iheartmom, the charity Rochette helped launch earlier this year to raise awareness of heart disease in women. Rochette’s mother, Théresè, died of a massive heart attack just days before the competition in Vancouver began.
“It’s exciting,” Rochette said about the pendant. “I’ve been wearing the jewel and some people stop me in the street and say, ‘Oh, I saw the press release for your pendant.’ It’s funny that people actually notice it.”
Rochette didn’t just lend her name to the pendant. She was involved in its design from the beginning, and her signature is inscribed on the back of each piece. Birks says the design was inspired by Joannie’s tight twists, polished releases and sweeping turns.
“At first, I was afraid to give my advice too much because I have no experience … I’m not a good artist,” she said. “But they were very nice and were always asking me for advice. We met five times with a designer over the summer. I was actually surprised at how involved I was. It was a fun project.”
The charity, she added, is “a great link between my mother and me.”
Rochette admitted she does a bit of a double take when she sees her face in the window of a Birks store promoting the jewelry line.
“It feels weird to see my picture in a store,” she said. “If I do an event with skating, then yes, I’m used to that. But when I go shopping downtown in Montréal, it’s always weird when people come up to me and know who I am.”
For more information about the Joannie Rochette Pendant, visit www.birks.com or www.birksusa.com.
Originally published in February 2011