the emotional impact of a jewel is just as strong for the one who offers it as it is for the one who receives it. ”
From what I understand, jewelry has been put aside for several years. What pushed you to turn the family company around? What pushed you to breathe new life into it?
It was first and foremost a family saga that started in Paris in 1915 when my grandfather’s (Marcel Rubel) uncles arrived in France and opened their first high jewelry workshop. When the 2 brothers decided to stop, my grandfather chose to develop his diamond trade and to cease his jeweler’s activities. He even became an important player in this business and I have had the privilege to have him to train me, alongside my mother, trained me to precious stones trade.
But he kept talking about his brothers, which he admired a lot because their creations have really left a mark in the business. As for me, after being trained in the family company, I left to work for the greatest names in the international jewelry industry. After over 20 years, I decided to stand on my own feet and it was a love story that awakened the family business I inherited.
I read that you were a jeweler. Are you also a gemologist ?
I did study gemology, but I would say that it was mostly my years of working that have lead me to know the stones. I was first trained in diamonds by my grandfather, in colored stones by my mother, and then when I started buying for the great houses of Place Vendôme for which I have worked for many years.
What are the criteria that help you choose the stones for your jewels? Do you have favorite stones or materials?
The main criterion is whether I like it. Whatever the price. It is a subtle alchemy of rational and less rational ingredients!
Where do you find the inspiration for the new collections ?
I mostly work on myself. I have to detoxify myself from the daily life frenzy, stress and obligations. I put myself in some kind of bubble and get in condition to dream and imagine. Of course, being away from home helps getting into that state of mind. It is like diving in some sort of meditation, contemplation and reflection.
How do you reconcile the quality of the jewels you make with their price? How does the John Rubel house positions itself in the High Jewelry market ?
I do the exact opposite of what I have been doing for years when I worked for others! Simply because the positioning of this first collection created for the house’s centennial anniversary is High Jewelry. I did not need to rationalize the costs in materials or working force. But as soon as you want to make more accessible pieces, you have to start working with a calculator by your side!
John Rubel is coming back in the jewelry industry with its founders’ positioning : creativity, quality and audacity. This comeback is branded with John Rubel’s original freedom and a strong identity as well.
How do you picture the John Rubel house in 5 years? Do you have plans to develop the company ?
I want the company to become international, because our clients are international. We aim to more forward and, more importantly, to keep human beings at the heart of the project.
How do you picture the future of the high jewelry industry in the next few years? What challenges does it face? Regarding the gemology and the buyers ?
High jewelry is on a highway! Numbers show that there are more and more UINWI. The big brands represent 12% of the international market and they are deploying considerable means to keep on attracting their customers. At the same time, the consumption pattern is changing and leaving room for small luxury houses who attract customers with their exclusive aspect; customers who always wants new things and are less and less loyal. Regarding the stones, some of them are getting harder and harder to find. Exceptional stones find buyers way easier than ordinary stones. As for the consumers, they have to be completely reassured about traceability of the jewel and the different materials that were used to make it. They are more and more informed.
What would you say to young companies that are getting into the jewelry business ?
First I would say they need actual experts and a true vi-sion.
According to you, is being a woman an asset in this business ?
An asset?! I don’t think so, no. It was originally a misogynous male business where very few women were able to gain acceptance. Thankfully, it is changing and more and more women are getting to high responsibility positions. After all, are we not those for whom we make these jewels? Who better than a woman could know what women want to wear?
But the emotional impact of a jewel is just as strong for the one who offers it as it is for the one who receives it.
by Stéphanie GUITTONNEAU