Kylie Minogue and Diane Kruger: two fans of jewellery by Eternamé

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 December, 2014, 11:46am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 December, 2014, 2:23pm

Just a few steps from the Arc de Triomphe is the 19th-century building where George Gershwin composed An American in Paris in 1928 and where Henry Kissinger signed the peace deal that ended the Vietnam war.

The building housed a grand hotel in 1908 and it has now become The Peninsula hotel's first foray into Europe, as well home to the boutique for the elegant French fine jewellery line, Eternamé.

"It is one of the most beautiful hotels in Paris," says Sarah Besnainou, founder and creator of the jewellery line.

"The concept of walking inside a fine hotel is a very good fit for Eternamé.

"It has been fantastic working with The Peninsula," says Besnainou, who hopes it will lead to more opportunities. Jewellery devotees in Hong Kong would be aware of Eternamé, as Besnainou's collections sell in Lane Crawford here and on mainland China, and the brand regularly has trunk shows for private clients.

But the designer, who launched her delicately refined jewellery in 2007, has not taken the obvious route to luxury brand building by opening many boutiques.

A few months ago, she hosted a dinner in Singapore with her close friend, socialite Jamie Chua, who, as co-founder of The Closet Raider, has a strong Instagram following.

Conscious of the power of social media, Besnainou says it not only heightens brand awareness for her jewellery, but also increases direct sales. She has developed the skill of connecting with potential clients on a global scale, and sharing her passion for jewellery.

It is easy to warm to her enthusiasm. On display in her boutique at The Peninsula are pink gold filigree cuffs, and dainty white and black gold interlocking bracelets set with diamonds.

Besnainou is wearing mother-of-pearl disc earrings inset with Arabic-style gold filigree from her Noor collection. Also on display are beautiful grey moonstone and diamond earrings, and lovely pink opal and diamond drop earrings.

Her first Ellipses earrings were designed for Kylie Minogue, and they are now a bestseller. Natalia Vodianova and Diane Kruger also wear her jewellery; they are attracted to Etername's very feminine, and delicate style, she says.

But her pride and joy is a 30-carat Paraiba-like tourmaline cocktail ring, which she shows off on her iPhone. Paraiba tourmalines and tanzanites are her favourite stones.

Laying out jewels set with turquoise, malachite and red and grey agate, she says: "The strength of Eternamé is that it's strong and rich in colours - it really makes an impact with them. That is what we are good at and why people like us."

French with Tunisian heritage Besnainou, 33, worked in the communications and marketing department of Christian Dior in Paris and New York, before working on Dior's baby range.

"It was always my vision to do something in the luxury industry, and I knew I had an entrepreneurial instinct. Jewellery was a perfect match for me," she says.

Besnainou was 26 when she launched Eternamé in 2007.The name means, "Make me eternal" in Greek.

She did a gemology course in New York, and was inspired to venture into jewellery after making a pair of 18-carat gold cufflinks for her boyfriend.

It was sitting on the jeweller's bench and watching the handcrafting of the gold that caught her imagination. "When you ask someone to do something, you had better know how to do it yourself," she says.

Besnainou designs the collections and ateliers make the sophisticated fine jewellery. She uses specialists in Paris, Lyons, and Limoges, where her enamelling is produced.

She has since broken up with the boyfriend: "We didn't stay together, but it was a happy ending as I have this," she says, casting her gaze over the jewellery.