What is your relationship with nature? I think I read somewhere that you spend a lot of time by the sea?
Moving out to the country, which is by the sea, has been a really wonderful way to discover nature. I am a city boy in the sense that I grew up in Paris and lived in New York. But what’s been really interesting in discovering nature is spending all these seasons outside. I go for long walks with my kids. They love to be outside too obviously, so I guess I have gotten much closer to nature now than I was when I first started CVC stones, and I don’t know if one fed the other or if it was just a happy accident.
Back to the people who you work with; how do you find the right people? The right people to find the stones and the right craftsmen to create the jewellery itself?
It is interesting. My partner in CVC Stones is Cristina, and honestly, she is the diamond in this operation. She was working with me in finance and she actually worked with me on something that had nothing to do with the stones, but I told her about it, and asked if she could help me. So, she is someone who has also come onto this journey with no prior experience and she really learned everything herself. And then when it comes to the people we work with, the setter is someone who has been working for 40 years in the diamond district, it is a very delicate trade because the stones can break quite easily, so it is very difficult work. Then we have our pickers who are people in all places of the world. It is a very small group and I think not knowing everything from the beginning has helped us. It is just the two of us in New York and the setter that has his own business. So we are a very small team and I think that has helped us. When I went to my first meeting at Barney’s, I think if I had been a jeweller by trade, I would have been much more concerned and worried about making the meeting happen in the right way, and here, I sort of had no expectations. I did not feel too much pressure to perform. It wasn’t my job, so it made it quite different. And it also meant that people helped me a lot. I am very grateful for the help I got from my fellow jewellery makers as well as people in the press or in stores that we sell in. They were all very supportive and guided us and helped us and gave us advice and introduced us to different people that then helped us, so I think it is a very nice group of people and I am very grateful for the ones who had experience and shared it, in a really nice way.
Do you think coming from a different background, also helped you not be confined to the same restrictions, in a sense, of what fine jewellery can be?
That’s definitely true, I didn’t have a perfect idea of what was what. It was an experience of discovery because every step was new and difficult and had a bunch of challenges. I think, because I wasn’t designing it to be a product and to be something that was sold, it was literally sort of a test to see if I could do it, and what it would look like to use the stone with my grandmother’s diamond. It had no time constraint, and I wasn’t on a deadline. It really was something that I could do at my own pace and I could wait for the right things to come along. I knew I didn’t want to launch or do this with the wrong chain, and I wanted to design a bail that was very specific, I wanted the stones and designs to look a certain way. Still today, I design every one of the stones that we do, and we do not produce that much, because we want to keep it reasonable in the amount that we produce. We like the fact that everybody has a stone that’s unique and different from everybody else, so it’s a different rhythm than if I had to push by the business side of things.
I guess that also takes out the pressure of doing collections for instance? Since everything is unique there is no such thing as repeating something?
And it gave a bit of frustration in the beginning, because retailers would ask if we were coming to Paris or New York to show what’s new. And even in the subsequent product that we developed, we did a lot of the settings after the traditional stones and we would come out with them when we would come out with them, and show them to our partners and share them on instagram, and that was the way our seasons worked and I think it was awesome to knock that pressure. And the idea behind the pieces is that they are timeless and organic and you want to keep them forever, so it doesn’t really matter if it came out in the spring season 2019.