Posted by Alain Elkann on 27/03/2018
French jewelry designer Aurélie Bidermann is renowned for her exquisite craftsmanship. Trained in gemology and with a Masters in art history, her eponymous fashion and fine collections are bohemian and draw on nature – think shells, leaves and animals.
You studied art history and you worked in modern art at Sotheby’s. How come you decided to change to jewelry?
Because it was natural. My family loved art and I was surrounded by art so it was natural to study art history. As a kid I was very creative, and I wanted to create something instead of watching it being made.
So what did you do?
I decided to go back to studying gemology in Antwerp, and after gaining my diploma I spent some time in the middle of the diamond trade.
What did you do next?
I went back to Paris and learnt technical drawing. I did this in order to achieve perfection for myself, for instance how to do an aquarelle, how you make jewelry and how you engrave. And then I went to Jaipur in India for three months to do my first jewelry there. I used briolettestones and I went to the Gem Palace, assisting the development of how they made the jewelry. I came back to Paris with a complete collection and no plans. Friends bought it, and Sarah Andelman from Colette saw one of my bracelets. We met and she started to sell my collection in her shops, and after that Colette was very successful. I had two lines, one a fine collection made in Jaipur and another one I made with my own hands in Paris. Every week I had to do a new delivery.
“I am inspired by something; it could be by a flower, or a memory, a kid or a work of art.”
When did you start on your own?
In 2012. I opened my own shop in Paris in Rue des Saints-Pères. Before that it was only distribution .
What motivates you?
I am a storyteller. I love to tell stories and now I am the creative director of Poiray and of Aurélie Bidermann.
Where is your largest market?
Europe and the US, and I divide my life between Paris and New York.
What is the difference?
In Paris there is a unique quality of life, in New York there is more speed. People there are more positive and have more energy. We still sell more in Europe, but the US is growing fast. If I have to describe Paris I would say Paris is like beauty, sophisticated creativity. But French people always complain, they are never happy. New York is about energy, productivity. If you ask; “How are you?” to a French person they say, “Not too bad.” If you ask the same question to an American they say: “Amazing!” Maybe the French complain too much and the American sentiment is too enthusiastic.
Do you sell more in shops or by internet?
We are on the internet, like for instance with Net-a-Porter and others, and it always works well as we look very good in digital. But the real experience in going to a store is much more interesting.
What kind of jewelry do you wear?
I never leave my ten gold bracelets that I have collected over the years. I also always wear a chain, but I change the pendant and sometimes I wear earrings, or not, very big ones or very tiny according to my mood. I also wear rings; sometimes many, sometimes zero.
What is your best seller?
The Wheat collection, and the Chivor collection which is a container of different kind of precious tiny stones that can change anytime. And then there is the Lace collection in gold. Chivor and Lace are more successful.
Where do you manufacture your jewelry?
I have a studio around Paris, another in Italy near Florence, and another one in Lyon. I change them depending on the craftsmanship.
Do you make limited editions?
Yes, especially in the organic line like Gingko.
Has the taste of women in jewelry changed since you started?
I don’t know if the taste has changed. I change myself, and my jewelry collection changes. What I liked ten years ago is not necessarily what I like today now that I am more mature.
Do you know who your clients are?
Yes, and they are from 16 to 70 years old. When they come to the store they want to buy a charismatic piece, something that you cannot find in another brand. We start at a price of about a hundred euros and go up to fifty thousand euros. For instance, the Chivors can start at one thousand four hundred euros if it is the small size with amethysts, and can go up to thirty thousand euros if you have diamonds.
Do you sell your jewelry in the Far East?
In Tokyo, in Japan, in Singapore, in South Korea, and we are starting in Hong Kong.
“I was blessed, as we were successful from the very beginning.”
Is it your style to wear a chain and bracelets over a sweater?
Yes. In winter a sweater, in summer a T-shirt or a shirt, always casual with a twist.
What about the evening dress?
To me you can wear the same jewelry from morning to night. For a special occasion maybe only one piece instead of many.
Nowadays do women still love to be given jewelry?
It is not a legend. A woman today can buy her own jewelry, but it also nice to receive it from someone you care about. Women are more independent. They make their own money.
Which are the iconic figures from the past that you admire?
Who would you like to wear your jewelry?
With whom would you have liked to work?
“In Paris there is a unique quality of life.”
How do you work?
I am inspired by something; it could be by a flower, or a memory, a kid or a work of art. And then I do a mood board. I have to think of 30 pieces for a collection. I do sketches and watercolors, here in Paris or in New York. I work all the time in my head.
Is gold your favorite material?
Yes, it is my favorite color; yellow, 18 carats.
Are there icons in your collection?
Yes. The ‘Copacabana’ and ‘Do Brasil’ bracelets are iconic. And to me what is iconic is the Wheat collection. I started it in 2009 and has always been in the range. Sometimes I add a new Wheat piece. Some of my pieces are out of production and became vintage, and can then be found in the second hand market.
How is business?
It is going well. Pas de crises. I was blessed, as we were successful from the very beginning.
Do you consider yourself to be like a fashion designer?
I work like a designer and I love fashion, but I don’t follow it to get inspired. That’s not completely true. Sometimes I do. The story of my life begins with yes and no, no and yes. But when the decision is taken, it’s taken.
Is there anything that you regret?
No. I still love all my pieces. In my mind I am working on the next collection for the summer of 2019.
Does fashion and jewelry always mean Paris?
I feel very French and proud, but I have to travel. I am very open-minded and New York is my second home. To me to be French means Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.