JEWELLERY CONCIERGE VALERY DEMURE IS HOPING TO REVOLUTIONISE THE WAY WE THINK ABOUT THE THINGS WE WEAR AND THE PEOPLE WHO MAKE THEM.
“Jewellery is not investment, it’s emotion,” insists Valery Demure, both of her bejewelled hands raised to emphasise the point. More than an hour into our conversation in one of London’s leading members clubs, her enthusiasm is drawing the eyes of people near us, but the diminutive Frenchwoman is unshameable. “The gentleman is always the one thinking about value,” she continues, her voice rising even louder. “But who is he buying it for? Is it for the lady or for himself? Who?”
In the belle monde of fine jewellery, where elegance and grace have long been the twin safeguards of sophistication, Demure’s pugnaciousness stands out like a beetle in a butterfly collection. It’s almost too brash to believe – and it would be easy to dismiss if Demure’s bona fides weren’t as solid as the black diamonds on her most treasured ring.
Having spent nearly 15 years advising both retailers and jewellery brands – a small army of emerging designers, from Noor Fares to Fernando Jorge, owe her a debt – she has only recently begun counselling individuals under her own brand, Objet d’Emotion, offering a combination of direct connections to designers as well as tailored advice about purchases and revitalising heirlooms.
One thing is immediately clear on meeting Demure: she isn’t desperate for business. In every conversation – with journalists, with clients, with jewellery designers – she ventures down paths that very few dare to tread: at one point she tells me about a woman she knows who has “lots of money but no sense of fashion or jewellery” (would she work with her? “No way – too much educating to do”). Later, she spends a few minutes describing another set of people she doesn’t, and wouldn’t, work with, concluding, “There are lots of people who just want the Cartier bracelet. Which is fine. Nearly all my clients have Cartier bracelets. But some women also want something different. They want something special.”
Jewellery designer Francesca Villa, who created collections for Bulgari, De Grisogono, Asprey and others before starting under her own name in 2007, puts it more succinctly: “I appreciate her telling me always what she thinks, even if it’s not always what you would prefer to listen to.”
Demure’s services are exceptionally personal: she and her team will get to know you and understand your taste, and then she will help you find jewellery that is right for you. “Jewellery says so much about who you are,” she explains. “I don’t think there is anything more emotional than jewellery – you give it or get it from people you love and you wear it on your skin.”
It’s the disconnect between this intimacy and many of the offerings of the big jewellery brands that Demure seeks to fill with Objet d’Emotion, which opened a stand last year at the PAD Fairs (Geneva, Paris, Monaco, London). “I think we need to look at jewellery purchasing in a very different way,” she says. “It needs to be meaningful, from the creation to the purchase.” She cares about industry trends – “transparent supply chain” and “provenance and craft” trip off her tongue with ease – but she’s especially passionate about making personal connections, including taking clients to visit ateliers, “to understand that you’re buying from a jeweller who has spent 10 or 15 years perfecting their skills. You are paying for all that.”
This holistic perspective is something “we’re missing in our Instagram world”, she continues, throwing up her hands again. “I want something really very human. I want to transmit the passion I have for these designers.”
For Demure, who is always impeccably dressed, it’s an ambition that fits within her broader vision of the things that adorn us: “I love encouraging people to be a bit more adventurous, to really think about what they like, what they love. And not just follow everybody else.”
And she is making it family policy as well: her young daughter’s first pair of earrings were a bespoke creation by Alice Cicolini, a London-based designer friend who calls Demure “brave and passionate”. The peacock hoops with a dangling sapphire cost, Demure says, less than a similarly ornate piece from one of the big jewellery houses. “I don’t really care what something costs – of course, I cater to all price points – but I want to change how we think about jewellery, what we think of as luxury.” It’s a compelling proposition, and one that has already begun to attract a loyal clientele, both in and out of the mainstream.