French jewellery designer Stéphanie Deydier talks about why Chinese culture is close to her heart and the inspiration behind her eponymous label's mink fur rings.
How has your family background influenced your career? "My [paternal] grandfather worked as a museum curator in Vientiane, in Laos, and my parents [Agnes and Christian Deydier] were Chinese antique dealers. So I grew up with beautiful antique pieces all around me. I studied art history with the hope of one day working with my family. Eventually, I interned at [auction house] Christie's in Paris, where the company put me in the jewellery department. It was there that I decided to change my career path and become a jewellery designer."
Tell us about your love affair with jewellery. "I have always been attracted to stones, even when I was four or five years old. My favourite stone as a child was quartz, not an expensive choice. After studying gemology and learning to appreciate stones more, my favourite stone now is the spinel, because it has a huge colour palette and the same brilliance as the diamond - especially the red one, which is very rare and very expensive. The colour is more intense than the ruby."
How has Asian and Chinese culture inspired your jewellery? "My first collection was all about Asia and an homage to my family. I was looking to antique pieces, furniture, culture and architecture. For me, this is really my world and also part of my heart. It's funny because when I'm sick, my dad always tells me to drink Chinese medicinal soup so I will feel better."
Who are your customers? "In Paris we get women who are attracted to classic pieces - nothing ostentatious or crazy. In Moscow, the women are not shy to buy pieces that are extravagant, and it's the same in Hong Kong. They like unique and creative pieces like our mink fur ring [above right]. When I was designing [it] I was inspired by the fur from bears. But eventually we decided that using mink would be better for a fur texture. So when I brought up the idea to the craftsmen they told me, 'We can't! It's impossible. How do we glue it?' But we pushed through."
Stéphanie Deydier jewellery is available at www.plukka.com.