For nearly two decades, Raphaele Canot worked at two of the best-known names in the luxury jewelry world: Cartier and De Beers Jewellers, the diamond specialist’s retail brand. In the process, she found that creating pieces for established jewelry houses has its limitations.
“You’re not an artist when you work as a designer for a big company — you are a designer to the service of the brand,” Ms. Canot, 54, said in a phone interview from her office in London’s Notting Hill neighborhood. “You have a brief to follow, you have some big marketing components in it. You have to get your inspiration, but it has also to be in line with the brand DNA.”
So in 2014, she introduced her own collection, Raphaele Canot Jewellery. “I had had enough time in the timeless and the forever,” she said. “I wanted to experiment with something that was a different scale. Actually, a small scale means freedom and speed, because you can think of anything basically and make it happen.”
Her brand frequently uses diamonds, but with a less conventional approach than in typical gem designs. Take the Set Free Diamonds collection, the first she unveiled and still the brand’s best seller. The pieces showcase gemstones — mostly diamonds, but also others, including rubies, yellow sapphires and tsavorites — that are not set, as in conventional pieces, but rather hang on chains, dangling earrings or hoops thanks to tiny holes drilled into the stones themselves.
“It had a double meaning for me,” she said of the collection’s name. “First, it was setting myself free from the world of the big brands and doing something very lighthearted, like piercing a diamond and not caring about the consequences. Also, the second meaning was obviously setting diamonds free from the traditional way of engaging them into some gold to make them hold on the piece.”