By Ashley Davis
Carine Larretgère, pictured left, is the designer behind Aimée.Aimer. Pictured on the right are the Iguazu hoop earrings, named for the waterfall on the border of Brazil and Argentina.
Carine Larretgère, pictured left, is the designer behind Aimée.Aimer. Pictured on the right are the Iguazu hoop earrings, named for the waterfall on the border of Brazil and Argentina.

Paris--When Carine Larretgère set out to create a fine jewelry brand in 2012, she decided to name it for love.

Aimée.Aimer translates to “to love (Aimer) and be loved (être Aimé), the essential engines of life for me,” said Larretgère.

The Parisian designer fuses her European culture with South American themes, inspired by her time living on the continent.

Landmarks like the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and the immense Iguazu Falls on the Brazil-Argentina border serve as inspirational starting points, which Larretgère abstracts into wearable designs, notable for their use of vivid gemstones.

National Jeweler chatted with the Paris-based designer about her cultural approach to design and her hopes for North American expansion.

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

Carine Larretgère: Before creating Aimée.Aimer I worked for 10 years at LVMH, for Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs. After this career in luxury and having worked alongside such great designers I decided to unleash my personal creativity and set up Aimée.Aimer, where I can give way to my passion for stones and jewels.

I have always been thrilled by stones and jewels; my grandmother had very beautiful gems, some of which were family heirlooms. Sometimes I would ask her to display them and even as a kid, I was allowed to touch them and to wear them, which I loved.

I loved also that she told me the story behind each piece; it was like travel for me. At that time my mother was fond of custom jewelry. Her vanity was crowded with colored necklaces, huge bracelets and statement earrings, which I would stack and mix to match my outfits. I loved it, but it somehow lacked the glamour of real stones and gold. Finally I created fashion fine jewelry, where these two worlds meet.

NJ: What is the inspiration behind your collection?

CL: My motto when I design each piece of my collection is: “a joyful luxury to wear every day.”

I'm very much inspired by nature, its strength, its colors and movements and its organic shapes. I reinterpret these strong, exotic inspirations in a singular Parisian way. I like to look for other wonderful cultures to enrich my Parisian spirit. Inspirations meet and mix: a refined line, a certain simplicity, a Parisian stylishness with the beauty of nature, its forms and its colors, the cultures and rites of South America, real or imaginary trips, and with feelings too.

NJ: Where is your jewelry made?

CL: It’s designed in Paris and made in France and Europe. The story of Aimée.Aimer is also about working with workshops that have a perfect knowledge; the relationship with the people who give life to jewels is essential.

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

CL: That we are a French fine jewelry brand, with exotic, ethnic inspirations reinterpreted with a Parisian spirit, which allows each of our pieces to be a joyful luxury to wear every day, and that we pay special attention to the quality of our stones and craftsmanship as we work with craftspeople who also work for the well-known Place Vendôme maisons.

Then, according to the piece the customer likes, I think it’s great if the story behind it can be told and if the design and craftsmanship details can be shown, as I pay much attention to this.

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

CL: I don’t think it’s a question of number of pieces, but a question of establishing a partnership that will last over time.

NJ: What retailers are currently carrying your line?

CL: In North America, not so many retailers, but very good ones: Just One Eye and Stone & Strand in the U.S. and Archives in Canada. Our objective is to develop (our accounts).

NJ: What is the price range of your pieces?

CL: We have pieces starting at $595 and going up to $19,000, but most of our pieces are in the sweet spot of $1,000 to $3,500.

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

CL: During Paris Fashion week, we have our own showroom in Paris to present our collections. I’m also thinking about exhibiting at Couture next year.

NJ: What are your plans for upcoming collections?

CL: I’ve just launched a striking new earring, the Liane earring, which is all about attitude. I like to focus on just one strong piece, so I’m planning to develop new versions of this statement earring.

20161019 OnetoWatch AimeeAimer-INSERTThe “Liane” earring in 18-karat yellow gold with pink sapphires ($990)

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

CL: That I’m a Parisian girl who lived in South America after my studies and my life there still inspires my creations and my work.

For more information, visit Aimé

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