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A talk with Melissa Kaye…

Melissa Kaye is a New York-based fine jewelry designer. She left Wall Street to design jewelry. Her specialty : trillion-cut diamonds. No wonder her scientific background in maths and finance transpose into her creations.

She is shy, discreet and humble. Melissa Kaye rarely says « I » and rather uses « we » and although she may not act like a creative designer seeking constant attention, she made her name a reputation and respected jewelry label.

YOUR SPECIALITY ?
Jewelry pieces that can be worn in different ways. That’s something you’ll see throughout the collections. We have a lot of pieces that reverse – sometimes with very geometric designs in which a lot offer little surprises. Another interesting feature to look at are our interesting hoop earrings with modern and unusual shapes.


WHEN DID YOU LAUNCH THE BRAND?

A couple of years ago, in New York. Everything we produce is made locally and set with 18 carat gold. However, our PR person is based in LA.


HOW DO YOU DEFINE THE BRAND? 

Melissa Kaye Jewelry brand is edgy without being trendy. One of the important things in buying a piece of jewelry is that have to like it in the long run. You want it to be modern but also to like it 20 years from now. We’ve done a lot with  fancy-cut stones with the princess cut and the triangles. They are hard to come by in these pieces. You’ll rarely see an entire collection with triangles.

Which consequently made Melissa Kaye her signature style…

 

FROM WALL STREET TO DIAMOND CUTS. HOW DID YOU MAKE THE SWITCH ?
It’s hard to say there’s any one thing. I worked in Wall Street for a long time. So for a change, it’s a big one. When I started at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology), working with these young girls drawing beautiful pictures, I started doubting about myself … as I believed that you are born creative and could not become one Period. Then I started wondering… Am I creative ? How is it going to work ? I just realized that my approach was simply different.

 

Melissa Kaye
Melissa Kaye
Cristina earring (large) mounted on yellow gold with white diamonds and pink sapphires, ~ USD$ 7’700
Melissa Kaye
Chloe shield ring mounted on yellow gold with diamonds, ~ USD$ 13’860
Melissa Kaye
Tori earring (small) mounted on yellow gold with black diamonds, ~ USD$ 990
Melissa Kaye
Chloe eternity band mounted on rose gold with diamonds, ~ USD$ 4’620
Melissa Kaye
Anna Claire ring mounted on blackened gold with marquise cut diamonds, ~ USD$ 4’950
Melissa Kaye
Chloe bracelet mounted on blackened gold with diamonds, ~ USD$ 8’965
Melissa Kaye
Margo earcuff mounted on yellow gold with princess cut diamonds, ~ USD$ 4’730
Melissa Kaye
Catherine earring (large) mounted on white gold with white diamonds, ~ USD 6’490

HOW IS YOUR APPROACH AND WORK PROCESS ?
We all have our own thought process. You need to stay true to your aesthetics. The reality is that coming up with new ideas is just a hard working process. Then it hits you ! And if you get stuck in the process, go get an ice-cream and come back ! You have to choose what you focus on. You have to be working all the time and thinking about it but it does not have to be conscious. As a matter of fact,  you cannot decide to sit for 2 hours and create. It does not work that way !


WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE? 

There are a lot of new pieces in the context of the things we’ve done. We have done a lot of pieces with the Trillion cut diamonds … I was told by my team to take a little break (she’s laughing…). I love fancy cut stones. And there are totally new ideas yet to be explored. We are constantly thinking of new things…


IN YOUR PIECES, THERE IS A LOT OF DETAIL IN A SMALL SPACE ?

When I was thinking about studs, I realized that it was very hard to find a good and interresting pair of every day studs. It is a small piece of jewelry indeed with limited space and my challenge was to come up with a lot of details. We had the same creative process for our hoops.


SO HOW DO YOU SUCCEED IN REACHING YOUR OWN GOALS ?

I am very goal-driven. It is part of my personality. Whatever it is that I want to get done, I will go get it done : whatever that is. It’s like being in school and getting an assignment. You have a problem you need to find a solution. For example I love hoops but all the ones we make have something different.


YOU HAVE CONQUEERED THE US MARKET, HOW ABOUT EUROPE ?

Not yet… but I would loved to be helped with that… !