Jewelry designer Raphaele Canot pictured alongside her OMG! bangle
Jewelry designer Raphaele Canot pictured alongside her OMG! bangle

London--If you don’t know the name Raphaele Canot, then you’re at least likely to be familiar with her former employers, Cartier and De Beers LV, where Canot held the title of creative director.

Now, Canot is a few years into her own namesake fine jewelry line.

Her OMG! ring, which has been expanded into a full-fledged collection, got lots of press when it debuted for its mix of cheek and elegance; the shape of the ring resembles that of an open mouth with jaw dropped, hence the name.

Canot’s aesthetic can be playful, but the experienced designer has a classic side as well. She’s a lover of diamonds and likes to “set them free,” or let the stones dangle, for maximum sparkle.

We chatted with the French designer, who now makes her home in London, on her impressive jewelry background and what’s to come for her on-the-rise line.

National Jeweler: Tell me about your professional background. What brought you to jewelry design?

Raphaele Canot: I entered Cartier with a master’s in copyright and intellectual property law, which led me from dealing with business and legal matters to retail, marketing, product development and product design. It was not a straight route but the most enjoyable of rides and the most useful experience for my entrepreneurial adventure.

Revisiting the Cartier archives and reviving the myth of the famous Panther paved my route to becoming De Beers’ creative director and later on, the founder of my own brand.

NJ: What is the inspiration behind your collections?

RC: My motto for my fine jewelry collections is “light-spirited diamond jewelry!” My jewelry has a timeless quality yet a modern appeal in the way diamond classics are revisited. Set Free diamonds are pierced and free from any metal to shake from delicate earrings and rings. Skinny Deco eternity rings, earrings and bangles shine in contrast with red enamel on white gold or white enamel on rose gold. My OMG! line has quickly become a favorite among stylists and clients with its quirky and vibrant appeal. I like telling a story of “smiling, shining, sharing.”

NJ: Where is your jewelry made?

RC: The delicately pavéd styles are made in Thailand, where the workshop that makes my designs come to life have mastered the art of micro-pavé. I also work with a Parisian atelier for the enamel work.

NJ: What should retailers focus on, or what story should they tell, when showing your line to customers?

RC: My diamond background and heritage from prestigious jewelry “maisons” makes a very reassuring pitch for anyone considering buying a piece of jewelry that is both modern and timeless. I became a Londoner by choice but I remain a true Parisian at heart: effortless chic is my favorite approach to diamonds, which is also nice to share with clients. I have wonderful ambassadors of my brand within my retailer’s teams and I feel very lucky to be nurtured by them as a brand.

NJ: How much inventory must a retailer invest in to carry your brand?

RC: My collection is clearly divided into three different stories: The Skinny Deco one, The Set Free diamond one and the OMG! one. It is important that a minimum of two of these lines are represented to carry the spirit of the brand. I carefully work on depth and seasonal additions for each line to help refresh the display.

NJ: What retailers are currently carrying your line?

RC: Dover Street Market in London, New York and Tokyo, Barney’s, Ylang23,, A’maree’s, Tiina the Store, Elyse Walker, Copious Row in the U.S., Colette, White Bird in France, GAGO in France, Plum in Beirut, Club Designer in Taiwan and SKP in Beijing.

NJ: What is the price range of your pieces?

RC: Most of my designs retail in between $2,000 and $4,000, which is a perfect self-indulgence or gifting price point, with a few closer to $10,000.

NJ: At which trade shows do you exhibit or are you planning to exhibit?

RC: I do exhibit with Rainbowwave in Paris and New York during the fashion calendar main events and participated in Couture Las Vegas 2016.
NJ: What are your plans for upcoming collections?

RC: I have exciting new additions coming up to complement my best-seller lines and I will be adding a new story in 2017. It will be true to my motto of light-spirited diamonds!

NJ: Complete this sentence: “People would be surprised to learn that…”

RC: It’s in the French Alps near the Mont Blanc that I need to reconnect with nature to feel inspired and light spirited … it may sound like miles away from city chic, but it is the true second facet of my personality. All the key creative milestones of my career have this deep connection in common!

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