Founder of the world famous jewelry houses, one of the most respected legislators in fashion jewelry Roberto Coin – about the new collection Sauvage Privé, responsible luxury and delight to give happiness.
Mr Coin, you founded your jewellery house in 1977. What goals were pursued then and what tasks do you set for yourself today?
In 1977, I got into the jewellery business by accident, by mistake...
I do not believe! How so?
I started with the hotel business. But I was always in love with fashion... After selling the hotel, I said to myself: we must try.
I did not set any goals, because I did not know anything about this industry. I knew only that gold is yellow, and the diamonds are white. It took seven years to acquire in-depth knowledge, then I worked for popular brands and only after that I decided that I was ready to start my own business. And I achieved success. I never planned to become a famous jeweller, this was not even in my thoughts. Just sought to do everything beautifully and with the highest quality possible. This is my character. I did not bother setting goals, I just was very kind to my business...
But why your choice fell on the jewellery business, and not on fashion, for example?
By that time, my family had been engaged in fashion for over a hundred years. But none of them dealt with decorations. This work seemed more interesting to me, and besides, I did not want to be compared with other family members.
So, what do you feel now, looking back?
I feel as good as when I started. You know, I try to think positively. For me, success has never been associated with wealth. Success is my knowledge, my good reputation, my lifestyle. I don't need the golden mountains. I need respect, and sometimes applause, if I did something particularly good.
I think, in the end, this is the most important...
You have been creating for almost forty years and still manage to surprise with each new collection. How do you do it?
I am inspired by the consciousness that I am not like everyone else. And I always, from the first day, sought to stand out. Launching the brand, I wanted only one thing – to be myself, Roberto Coin. You know, any brand needs to be “born”, and this is very simple, everyone can do it: you need a budget, a collection and, obviously, the ability to make your products desirable for everyone – like a Cartier watch, for example. And this is beautiful, there is nothing wrong with that. People make a lot of money, become successful and all that... But then I decided that it was boring. I thought: since all women are different, why to offer them the same things? Moreover, when shopping, they always ask: what's new? Ladies are asking for what, probably, most brands are unable to give them. So this new thing I do. In addition, I have a wide range of prices, there are decorations for the girl, and for her mother, and for the grandmother... Here, your mom or grandmother may have more expensive and pompous jewellery, and you’ll probably get something else – an elegant jewel that emphasizes your individuality, affordable and almost unique because such things are not sold at every corner. Looks like this is what women want. I built a brand as no one had done before. Perhaps my brand is not as famous as the others, and we don’t follow the system at all, or maybe this is what makes us popular.
But to be different, you have to be open to everything...
Creativity is the freedom to do whatever you want. This is freedom in itself.
Since 1996, you decorate your products with ruby. Why did you choose this stone?
You know, I read a lot, I study. I am fond of history and would like to die as a sage, not a fool. Somehow I accidentally got into the hands of a book about the ancient Egyptians. So, they preferred to give rubies to their women, because they believed that among all the precious stones it is the touch of ruby to the skin that brings well-being, good luck, prosperity and happiness. And I thought: “Lord, I will bring happiness to all my clients!” – and sealed this oath with a small ruby, carrying such an important meaning. I do not include it in the price of jewellery, it is a gift to my clients from me. And this is a beautiful story. Believe it or not, I can show you thousands of letters from buyers claiming that this ruby has changed their lives. Think what you want, but it’s really true: I’m sending you messages, and it’s up to you whether to receive them or not.
So you believe in some kind of superstition about the stones?
No. There are things that I believe in, and there are things that I deny. But this is not superstition.
How did you come up with the idea of Cento - a unique cut of diamonds with a hundred facets?
Again, I was guided by the desire to create something unseen. All brands have diamonds, I thought: why do we offer the same thing? We must try to do something that no one else has done, which the machine cannot reproduce. For example, the 751 sample is carried out by the machine, but the Cento cut can be done exclusively by hand, by the hands of a master cutter. There is no doubt that the play of light is much brighter here than in any other...
If you take a low-quality diamond, even with Cento it will look awful, but still better than with any other cut, because Cento provides a brighter play of light. You know, I always have a thirst for change. Everything changes, each in its own way and I change in my work.
In 2010, you gave a speech at the World Exhibition in the UN pavilion. Your speech was about responsible luxury. What is it – responsible luxury?
This is how we behave in life. And it concerns not only jewellery. Jewellery is only a part... In 2009 there was a serious crisis, everything changed around. I did not fire anyone, I saved all my staff. If someone has a problem, we try to solve it. When all of Europe went on strike, there were no strikes in my company. That is, it also cares about people – whether it be customers, children or friends. It all depends on our actions... I have never used child labour, not hid income. Always sought to buy gold directly from its producers.
I am one of the main founders of the Kimberley Process, whose goal is to reduce the flow of "bloody" diamonds, and one of the founders of the World Diamond Council... In addition, I am engaged in charity. That is, the right actions – this is social responsibility. And she makes me happy because I have the opportunity to give. And the more you give, the more you rejoice that you can share something...
Are you faced with the problem of fakes? And how are you fighting this?
No. Probably, I am the most difficult designer for a fake, because I have so many kinds of products... While others do not “sign” products with a small ruby and do not use my name, it is difficult to call it a fake. I can suspect that my products are still forged. But in the end, it's still not Roberto Coin, and the quality of such products is appropriate.
What experiment in your life was the most courageous?
Perhaps the change of occupation. It was a real test: I refused what I was successful in, and took up what I was not yet successful in. After all, no matter how rough it sounds, at first you are nobody. When I started, there were 5,324 jewellery companies in Italy, so I became the 5th 325th. See, in what conditions I had to work! It was a serious test, but I was not afraid of change. And now I'm not afraid. And when you chase after wealth, it's impossible. You just need to strive to be who you want to be, and this is enough for what you have. And if you are smart, everything will come to you by yourself.
I see that you are a happy person and are happy with how your life has developed. But was there any moment that, looking back, would you like to change?
No, I do not regret anything. According to my philosophy, there is no point in regretting the discarded alternatives – after all, you never know for sure how everything would have turned out in another case... The only exception is that I did not get the opportunity to become an athlete. In my youth I was good at gymnastics, half a year played professional football, then moved to another country and started playing rugby, then squash... And most of all I dreamed of becoming a world fencing champion. But I never had such an opportunity. I lost my parents very early and I did everything I achieved in life. In addition, at the age of 21, I was the father of two children. And children, work and sport are not very well combined...
Have you ever seen someone else's work, think: "And why did it not occur to me!"?
No, I appreciate the work of other designers. And I have a big store where every day many people buy my ideas.
What do you think about design products? Can they compete with such large jewellery houses as Roberto Coin?
I do not discuss others. Everyone deserves respect, like any other business, because there are too many of us. In any case, for me it is not a problem to be someone else, but it is difficult for others to become me. All over the world there is no company similar to ours. To become a brand of Roberto Coin, you need to combine several companies.
Tell us about the latest collection of Sauvage Privé, which you brought to Baku. It seems to be very different from everything you did before ...
Yes, this is not the typical Roberto Coin, it is rather a look into the future. We have tried to take into account the tastes of the millennials, who are now becoming buyers, and all the rest. This collection shows simplicity at its best, very elegant, very classic expression. These jewellery will suit both you and your mother and your grandmother. And you will look equally good in them. It's like with jeans – they are young, if you pick the rest correctly. The success of the collection is exceptional because the number of copies is very limited: this year it will receive no more than ten customers, and the creation of the collection will continue for these ten customers. Developed new earrings, necklaces – there is always the opportunity to make a set. But I never thought that the kits would enjoy such success. For my taste, it is quite enough to wear a single decoration... This collection is very original, it is focused on the fashion of the future.
Which of your products, in your opinion, is timeless?
All that will ever be sold by antique dealers. Already, antique dealers sell many of the products of the company Roberto Coin, mainly belonging to the three collections, and soon the fourth one will be sold. The number one for antique sales is Appassionata. Seeing that antique dealers were selling this collection, I was even upset – I was not dead yet! It is followed by Nabucco, Animalier and is already starting to be sold to Cento.
INTERVIEW: LEYLA IMANOVA PHOTO: PRESS MATERIALS
The interview was published in the 42nd issue.