Inside the Jewel Vault with Katerina Perez
INSIDE THE JEWEL VAULT WITH KATERINA PEREZ
Welcome Inside the Jewel Vault hosted by me, jeweller and gemmologist Jessica Cadzow-Collins. In this episode I ask superstar fine jewellery blogger Katerina Perez to select six pieces from her life and career in jewellery and put them into a fantasy Jewel Vault, ultimately choosing that one special treasure to keep safe forever.
Katerina speaks about her career and life with passion and intelligence, and it’s moving to hear the personal stories behind her selection. Jewellery was such a powerfully compelling force in her life that she forged a successful career at a time when no one else was blogging about the high end world of fine jewellery. With the entire world of fine jewellery brands and designers to choose from, I was intrigued to see what Katerina would select. The pieces in her fantasy jewel vault are a wonderful assortment of astonishing gems and meaningful keepsakes. It was a big treat for me to make this episode because Katerina is one of my jewellery heroes, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did making it.
I want to hear from you! What special treasures would you put into your fantasy jewel vault, and why? Every so often I’ll compile your stories into a podcast of their own. So please email me: email@example.com
Produced by Lizzie Wingham. Engineered by Gareth Lewis.
JCC I am delighted to welcome Katerina Perez to the Jewel Vault, Katerina is a pioneering jewellery blogger with over 300 thousand Instagram followers who track her glittering journey in fine jewellery every day. Russian-born, Katerina worked as a freelance journalist and content editor for Russian and English magazines. She studied gemmology at The Gemmological Association of Great Britain (Gem-A) and founded her own blog devoted to fine jewellery in 2013 whilst working in jewellery retail in London. In the years since, Katerina has featured an amazing quantity of high jewellery all curated with her flair and taste, and champions the work of talented jewellers all across the globe. Welcome Katerina, I can’t wait to see what you have got for us inside the Jewel Vault!
KP wonderful thank you for having me
JCC Oh Katerina you have worked with some of the most incredible jewellery designers and artists and the most astonishing gems in the world so how have you managed to pick only six pieces for your Vault what was the criteria you used
KP Oh that was definitely tough because you can imagine how many jewellery I see on a daily basis but I tried to pick the pieces which I have a personal meaning to me some of them are very beautiful as others invoke certain emotions some of them are related to certain Important events into my life like my engagement ring for example so the basis of my choice was the emotions and the meaning behind the jewellery also I feel that Jewellery is not just a pretty object it has to mean something to us and emotional piece right so that’s why there are six which are quite tough to pick
JCC I can imagine yeah so take us back to where you started in your journey back to your childhood you were born in Russia is that right?
KP yes so I was born in St Petersburg and raised and I graduated from university there and I was born in a family of artists and my mum restores painting and my father he restores antique furniture so if the art aspect was always with me it just took me some time to understand what is too art for myself I don’t very well know how to draw I don’t know much about furniture but I see Jewellery as a form of art which I personally gravitate towards which I adore and which I want to know more about and this was the basis for starting my website and social media to share with everyone out there the beauty of this form of art.
KP and also educate because it’s not just about showing pretty things, the carat weight and the look
JCC Like an evangelical mission for you
KP for sure
JCC back in St Petersburg with your art loving family were you exposed to Jewellery there
KP yes in fact the first let’s call it exposure to Jewellery was through my grandmother who love Jewellery as much as I do and she had an extensive collection but it wasn’t precious so back at that time normally a jewellery box would be filled with gemstones but it would be like malachite or Amber was something less precious than diamonds and rubies but of course for a child I think I was two or three years old when I first discovered jewellery and in fact obviously I don’t discover this and this is something which came back to my memory After my mother showed me this photo of my two years old where I am covered in my grandmothers jewellery so I thought you know I’ve always had it I’ve always loved it it just was a matter of time until I really understand How I can feed this passion into something bigger
JCC Yeah so that’s just wonderful and actually shared with us this fabulous photograph of you as a small child and you are you are literally smothered in gems and beads and necklaces - I can only imagine how much fun you must have had
KP it was fun exactly and I still look what do I do now I travel all over the world I meet different designers I go to different exhibitions and I continue my childhood dream because I still do the same I still try all of those beautiful pieces of jewellery on the only thing which has changed is the level of my knowledge and appreciation and the reason why I do it but at that time I was there it was a subconscious desire to Admire all that beauty
JCC yeah ha ha the only difference now is it you’re doing it with about 350,000 followers on Instagram
KP now I don’t just admire it out as share it with many people out there but at that time it was for me to explore to the beauty of Jewels and to understand what I like about it and what fascinates me because honestly it’s a big big passion and I think one of the thing why I have quite a good following because people can really feel my passion is not just about all of this is sparkling this is pretty no it’s about how Jewellery speaks to me What it means to me what is the difference of all the pieces of jewellery I encounter what’s good because you know I’m super selective with what I show because I believe that I curate really well because for me since its I want to select the best to show to my audience it’s like taste making you know helping them to You know grow this selective taste in jewellery because of course like every media of art there are some good examples are not so good examples so I try to choose the best To show what beauty exists out there
JCC So it’s your Grandmother’s jewellery box that makes it into your jewellery vault first of all - it’s so wonderful that dressing up and playing with jewellery sparked your passion. How did your interest in jewellery grow with you as you grew up?
KP Well in fact when I was in at university and later school years are used to make my own jewellery in Russia it’s quite popular to make beaded jewellery you know where the little beads and I used to create very artistic pieces and I used to actually used to sell into my mum’s friend and I had my little audience of people you know who would buy my jewellery from me and I used to make flowers and trees and different art objects with that as well it was very interesting but sadly made my eyes deteriorate and my mum she invested in an operation to do laser surgery and after that I thought okay it would be not fair to continue with this and maybe risk of recurrence Or a deterioration of my eyesight so for quite some time I forgot about it and then I moved to the UK and I was working in retail and eventually you see when it’s your destiny it finds you so eventually I started working in the Jewellery boutique and this is when all this passion and emotion came back to me and I was like what was I doing all of these years I was meant to be related to Jewellery so so long ago why was I wasting my time but at the same time I have to I understand you have to go through certain phases in life and Maybe if I got exposed to Jewellery right away it wouldn’t be the same you know
JCC so so you were writing as a freelance journalist is that right
KP yes I was working in retail and writing at the same time for some time
JCC and then when did you set up your own website
KP so the website I set up when I was working in retail but of course at the beginning it was for pure hobby I didn’t really expect it to turn into something important to have a big following to be read by thousands and hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world so it was simply to feed my passion for writing and for jewellery and slowly slowly I saw how it was developing and of course you know at some point I my employee came to me my employer came to me and said look you know you working with us but you write about others which is correct you know
KP My employer told me you know now people recognise you so we don’t also feel comfortable that you write about other jewellers and you work with us which is understandable and I also could relate to that and I said yes sure I know where you’re coming from and I took the risk you know I spoke with my husband and he said Ok let’s let’s do it you know and you can carry on feeding your passion through writing and we’ll see you can always go back to retail which is true and that is what I’ve done and at that time I had some people who supported me in the first steps because of course it’s quite risky you know to go from a secure full-time job to Undefined future really so but you see in the end it all worked out through hard work through passion through desire to do more and better
JCC Ooh yes, lots of hard work, I can imagine and it was a huge pioneering step to take at the time particularly in the world of jewellery! So Katerina what jewels were you were seeing that inspired you to take this new path?
KP one of the jewels which actually I did encounter when I worked with my last employer Boghossian family because they’re known for a really rare and unusual gemstones and collectable Jewels and in fact one of the pieces that I’ll never forget because honestly when I worked with them I was exposed to such a wealth of real treasures real jewelled treasures it wasn’t just about the design which was extraordinary but the actual stones were sometimes exceptional you know the one jewel that I actually remember I don’t know if they still have it is a necklace with a chameleon diamond and in fact even though I studied gemmology before that I never even seen a chameleon Diamond I don’t remember studying about it In my Gem-a classes so for me it was a real revelation that there is a thing like a chameleon Diamond I remember I used to take it out of the safe you know because it does really change the colour from when it’s in the darkness to when you bring it out to light I think from like an orangey to olive green and it was magic you know it was one thing to describe jewellery it was true magic
JCC yes they’re the rarest gems, and in fact I think in 30 years I’ve only ever seen one
KP there you go yes it’s super rare but at that time I was simply enchanted by gemstones and I understood why because they are wonders of nature and it’s something that is beyond our power to create it’s just from above
JCC that so well Put so that’s your second item in the vault is this amazing chameleon diamond is a a pendant
KP that was a necklace
JCC That’s a necklace by Boghossian, and can you describe it to us
KP so the necklace at that time I remember it was a big heart shaped chameleon diamond so of olive colour in the centre and it was set on a bed of like greenish tourmalines which were arranged like rays of sun basically around the neck so it was kind of an extravagant avant-garde design which was one of the signatures of Boghossian you know they’re quite daring in their jewellery designs and this is one of the reasons why I like the pieces so much
JCC yeah they have an astonishing technique So That’s piece number two - what is piece number three tell me I know this is going to be a very special piece to you because it’s your engagement ring
KP yes my engagement ring yes I think it of course it’s very important emotionally because it’s a an engagement ring right like for everybody else but I think what I remember about it at that time I wasn’t related to jewellery much and I didn’t write about jewellery or knew, I didn’t have such deep knowledge about jewellery at the time and I remember looking through the magazine and you know like for any girl the blue box is a little dream right so if you say the blue box Tiffany it becomes something you really want to have so I saw an advertisement in the magazine there was a ribbon and on that ribbon there was a set of five different engagement rings from Tiffany and I just said to my husband do you know what there is one of these which I Really like and when he proposed some time ago it was actually the one I like and that’s probably why it has such special meaning to me as well because at that time my husband read my mind somehow and he proposed me with my dream ring so of course it has a wonderful memory for me and a special place in my heart
JCC yes of course so tell us what is the ring like
KP so that the ring to be honest it’s called the Tiffany setting is a very traditional ring it has a Diamond sitting on a simple platinum band and it’s the signature design of Tiffany which is called knife edge so it’s kind of a pointy band
KP but it’s perfect to wear with other jewellery because it’s nothing just the one single diamond that’s why I really liked it
JCC yes a simple classic and you wear it every day
KP I’m actually really bad with wearing jewellery on a regular basis because I really change it depending on my mood and I would never take to my business trips because I’m always so paranoid about leaving it somewhere when I go to exhibitions or to meet jewellers as you can imagine I tried so many different things and I’m always too scared that I’m all I’m going to just leave it somewhere I’m getting too excited about other pieces so I personally don’t feel that it’s a necessity to wear your engagement pieces like I don’t need to prove anything my love and commitment to my husband but I am it’s a sentimental piece which I always have in my jewellery box or wear so it’s not for me an every day ring but it’s definitely a very special
JC Oh yeah very special. so you started your own website in 2013, now you’re busy writing and travelling, meeting designers artists in gold & diamonds fabulous Gem stones all over the world, how has your career blossomed so well? I mean It’s really taken off
KP you know it all comes to a few basic things one of them of course is passion because I believe do it with passion or don’t do it at all it’s a bigger motivation and you know big source of energy as well you know because in fact it’s very difficult How much goes behind the scenes how much work needs to be done to achieve so much you know to have the website running on a regular basis to have social media channels constantly updated you have to generate ideas all the time but behind-the-scenes you know you have to go and meet people you have to create that content you have to always imagined what’s the Next step how do I present information I have to people so that it’s fascinating so in reality it’s due to hard work and passion and always desire to achieve more for me this is always the interesting part that in my work I wear so many hats so I am a writer I am a content creator I photograph jewellery I build business no one taught me a single thing how to do I am super curious about many different things so I’ve learned about by trial and error by self education by listening to others advice by studying case studies you know and I carry on doing this every day because once I have achieved one thing in my career I want to do more now I’m developing my first course in jewellery and gemstones so there’s always something new and interesting to learn and develop this is the best thing but of course it all comes down to hard work
JCC So you do admire the work of artists don’t you, so talk us through item 4 in your fantasy Vault
KP Yeah my very coveted item 4 in the vault is sadly not something I own but something I would love to have in my jewellery box it managed to escape but in a way But once I’ve seen this ring it’s a ring by Salvador Dali it was the original design which his jeweller in New York manufactured and in fact it was the original there were a few of those kind of rings they are angels wings made in gold and you have three small diamonds in the centre and there is Dali written on the ring there are a few of these rings made at the time and in fact the jewellery dealer who had it they were exhibiting at masterpiece was maybe five years ago they had the papers as well to Prove the provenance it was an original piece but at that time it was for me it was expensive I couldn’t afford it and now obviously I can afford it but it’s not there it’s been sold in that time and now I regret it so much that’s why my philosophy in life is if you really really want something you have to find a way to have it because otherwise you will regret it so much after
JCC Yeah! So how many of these were made
KP I think I’m not going to lie I think maybe seven or eight I think something like this but the reason why this is so important to me is because I am a big admirer of Salvador Dali and his art and his crazy mind so that’s why for me it’s so special it would’ve been so special for me Do you have had a piece of him and his imagination on my finger but I’m still hoping that one day I will be able to find it at some maybe auction house or maybe an antique dealer I haven’t given up yet but it’s like one of the dream
JCC but what is it that you said earlier that when it’s your destiny things will find you. So maybe it will come back to you
KP Yeah you have to send the signal to the Universe
JCC That’s so right. So tell us about beautiful item number five in the vault
KP So my blue butterfly I think it is one of the craziest Jewellery purchases which I’ve had it is a big titanium earring a blue titanium and a little bit of diamond and the blues zircon in the centre it’s a solo earring so you only wear one so it’s quite huge so I call it my mascot my little pet which I wear actually quite regularly even though it’s a statement piece I don’t want to wait for an occasion to wear it if I love it it goes well with jeans It goes well with a summer dress it’s a dressy piece but I want to look good and happy and enjoy it whenever I want, right, I don’t want to wait for society to dictate that this is my theme actually with my work I want women to really enjoy jewellery to understand to desire it to buy it to enjoy wearing it and not to think of what are the norms I believe we create our own norms of how Jewellery should be styled and worn and when
JCC Oh I can hear your little boy!
JCC Haha great. So tell us about your blue butterfly who designed it?
KP so it’s not a designer who sells to the final client it’s a designer who works for one of the jewellery houses so sadly I can’t share the name but it was a Very spontaneous purchase as I said sometimes I believe that Jewellery chooses us not we choose jewellery and in fact it happened at Basel World I was at one of the world exhibitions and I went to see my friend and her brother he sells gemstone so usually I go visit my friend and admire their gems and I saw this butterfly and they said take it wear it is a little bit you love Jewellery I would like you to wear it for some time so I put it on and for a few hours I had it on and then I was like I cannot part with it this has to be with me the reason why I say it’s one of the craziest jewels of mine Because it wasn’t so cheap I don’t normally buy jewellery I have my jewellery as gifts because they have to have some emotional value and good intention and positive vibes and if I just buy jewellery for myself it kind of loses its magic for me because my personal opinion on Jewellery I don’t buy it for the beauty of it I buy for the emotion I get from it and where I wear it’s like a talisman for me Jewellery is mostly talismanic But this one you know the butterfly chose me so I had to work it out how to have it so it was meant to be
JCC yes obviously meant to be and so tell us about your piece no. 6 in the Jewel Vault, this is a very intriguing looking bracelet
KP so the bracelet my number six is a jewel which was gifted to me by a friend of mine from Qatar, Reem she’s a jewellery designer from a brand called WITR And in fact you know it was as I said she has such a positive lovely personality when she gifted this eye bracelet to me it was designed by her it’s a gold piece with an eye inlay Of turquoise and I can’t remember what other stones there are but it’s a beautiful I wish actually reminded me a little bit of the Salvador Dali kind of piece that’s why I fell in love with it instantly I just couldn’t help it she was just like you have to have it I’ll see how much you love it take it that was a bit of a shock and I said okay well it was probably also meant to be if you want me to have it I will have it it will be my talisman of good luck which it is because an eye also has certain symbolism coming from the right person together I feel this is a very powerful jewel for me so I wear it quite often as well you know Jewellery has So much meaning to those who own it to those who own the pieces - Jewellery is capable of empowering people women of altering the mood of making you happier, so that’s why I feel that’s why it’s important to have Jewellery and to wear it and you know to help make you happy
JCC yes a positive force that’s right, that’s a good definition. so Katerina, tell us with your travels all around the world you’re exposed to so many different new ideas and trends where in the world excites you at the moment for new jewellery design
KP in fact I find that Greek designers are being very inventive with their designs they are really thinking outside the box and creating something which I don’t see much on the market which I haven’t seen before so I really salute the Greek designers they really explore the creativity and that is what I like it’s admirable to see people not focusing on the commercial aspect of design of the jewellery but to really express themselves through what they create for me the DNA of a Jewellery a brand is very very important this is what I look for what I scrutinise different pieces of jewellery is it original enough does it reflect the personality of the designer how does the idea something that isn’t tangible how can the designer turn it into something that can be worn and how can express themselves through Jewellery this is something really interesting to se
JCC Yes very interesting. So Katerina, you have a soft spot for any particular designer
KP honestly there is quite a few this this is one of the most popular questions Katerina who is your favourite jeweller? it’s like who is it’s like when you ask a mum who is your favourite child everyone is so different there is jewellers who are amazing at enamelwork there’re jewellers who are amazing gold those who are being really inventive within inlay others who are really exceed in the gem setting. I mean it’s simply impossible to highlight one or two or 10 especially with my level of Outlook the amount of jewellery and jewellers that I see on a regular basis it makes it completely impossible to choose but I know that in terms of for example techniques that can be a little bit easier in a way because I like to see techniques which are not very easy to create like gemstone inlayfor example
I love the art of inlay and how one stone is placed in another stone or it’s made in the form of mosaic to create a pattern out of gemstones or I love it when designers work with unusual materials like aluminium, like titanium even things like Boucheron on for example they created in the past jewellery with marble.
KP one of the very interesting materials recently used by Boucheron in jewellery is called Aerogel
which is in fact a it was used by NASA in the Stardust project for capturing Stardust it reminds you of sky like a little cloud and in fact it was perfect for the collection and the necklace is called a drop of sky so it was just ideal to represent this little cloud captured on the neck
JCC that sounds magical
KP it’s brand-new so it’s just launched last month
JCC I’ll go and find your article about it
KP For sure
JCC For those of us who don’t really understand Instagram how do you make it a business that generates an income
KP With Instagram but you have to be really creative and you have to really analyse the audience to see what they like what they need how to make them excited of course the basic of well blogging let’s call it blogging is advertisement but for me it’s very important to really balance not to make my Instagram look like it’s a selling platform or that brands just pay me and I post whatever I don’t work on that basis I only post what I really like and I let Brands pay me for that so may sound a little bit arrogant but it’s the way because the most important thing for me is to be true to myself and really showcase my taste and what I really like in jewellery and in fact I get a lot of Positive comments and appreciation for being true to myself so
JCC so you’re maintaining a degree of authority and integrity
KP yeah exactly and this is why I’m always on the lookout for new jewellers or new designers who have met before because I do a lot of research to find the designers who will potentially be of interest to my audience and to feature them, collaboration is not the goal but it’s obviously a positive side of my business because I have a big team I have to support my family and my team and grow my business and also I don’t think that you know followers can really understand how much one needs to invest not only in a the level of time or workforce but also financially to create photo shoot to create beautiful collages which Even to travel to exhibitions you know and stay in hotels and fly you on the planes and all of these expenses have to be taken care of so that’s why I think nowadays it’s normal, it’s a job to be a blogger and people understand - when I started seven years ago brands wouldn’t understand why they would want to invite me to their exhibitions or to the jewellery showcases why would they even want me to write online what is online? where now I get invited along with all of the other important print editors so it is equally important right now it’s just a different media in fact I think many of the listeners know know those who listen To this podcast they’ll also agree that most of the time They would consume information online through their phones rather than buying a magazine so it’s a new way of learning about things in the world
JCC so where will your journey in Jewellery take you next?
KP good question right now I am really working on developing a new markets in my work I have recently started a new social media in Asia this is the market which I’m very interested in I can see how much people in Asia appreciate jewellery and design and gemstones and I really want to talk to them all so I have my team in Shanghai who take care of my social media there and I hope that this is a new market for me that I and I can grow and develop a bit further
JCC yeah yeah well I think your obvious passion, deep connection to jewellery and enthusiasm can only be you know welcome over there
KP and the fact that I create my own content so I don’t just re-post pictures or post what brand share with me I go and see I filter through my knowledge And through my vision and then I presented in my own way it’s very important for me to stay true to myself to my taste to my vision of jewellery and to have people who follow me to be a part of my jewellery community I don’t see them as my followers I see them as my soulmates in away I said everyone who is with me who likes my pictures and comments is much more personal journey to me then maybe to a well a blogger in the medium that we are used to like a person who posts and gets paid and you know they showcase their maybe life on Instagram I feel for me it’s different for me it’s my personal journey and I’m super happy to have all of these people on my journey with me
JCC Yes that’s beautifully put. So Katerina Perez you have six very beautiful very meaningful and quite unique pieces in your fantasy Jewel Vault – starting with your Grandmother’s jewellery box, the chameleon diamond necklace by Boghossian, your classic diamond Tiffany engagement ring, the Salvador Dali Wing ring, your blue butterfly earring, and finally the inlaid eye bracelet by WITR and as you know the rule of the Vault is if that if you can only keep one piece safe and secure for ever, which piece would it be and why
KP the engagement ring! I think we all agree that you know an engagement ring is the most important jewel in every woman’s life and even though it’s very simple design and I know it can be replaced out the intention of When this ring was given to me you can never be replaced so that’s why you know I can buy another blue butterfly the eye I know this friend who will always be my friend and Boghossian ring was more of the wow factor factor rather than anything emotional but the engagement is there something the most sentimental
JCC yea and the fact that your husband read your mind, he chose the right engagement ring for you.
JCC Thank you Katerina. It’s very unusual and rare to find someone with such passionate and deeply emotional relationship to jewellery so thank you it’s been such a pleasure to see inside your fantasy jewel vault.
KP the pleasure was all mine to share with you guys a little bit of my journey and I hope I manage to infect you with my passion and you’ll follow my Instagram and fall in love with it as much as I have