How Myrtille Beck Put The Love Back Into Diamond Jewelry In Paris
Myrtille Beck in her boutique-atelierChloe Lapeyssonnie/Myrtille Beck
Back in 2008, Myrtille Beck was the first independent jeweler in Paris to make modern, feminine diamond jewelry accessible, with a line of beautifully delicate pieces designed to be worn with meaning. Ten years later, the brand has grown organically, largely by word-of-mouth online and off, and Beck has big plans for her “love jewelry”. A designer with a big heart opens up on her journey to build a business in her own image.
A beaming Myrtille Beck is marking her first decade in business with a characteristically understated cocktail party at her store in Paris’s SoPi district. Amongst the twinkling diamonds were ten one-off pieces, designed to celebrate ten years of design and creation in the tiny atelier behind the shop. A yellow diamond nestles between two jeweled leaves, a dark square-cut diamond is handsome in a millegrain setting and a white diamond is made solar. “The stones did it all,” she says of the anniversary collection. “When I started work on my original ideas, I realized that some of the ones I had been planning to surrounded with other stones were stronger alone – like the near-black galaxy diamond – and vice versa.”. The collection embodies her thoughtful approach, with pieces that are noticeably larger and bolder than the exquisitely dainty jewelry that she is known for.
“I was going to mount the Kite on its own, but in the end, we added grey diamonds to the band either side for balance and harmony.” The Kite ring from the Pièces Uniques... 10 ans collection, by Myrtille Beck.Myrtille Beck
As a classically trained jeweler, Beck initially worked in restoration, where she developed the passion for antique jewelry that would come to inspire her own line. “Pieces from the Victorian period are incredibly detailed and refined,” she says. “The delicacy and sense of detail of another time touched me, and I try to pass that feeling on to my clients. Working with antique jewelry “felt like holding pieces of history” and she was especially enchanted by the idea of jewelry given to express love, in all its different forms. “I remember working with a magnificent 19th century gold and oxidized silver necklace, with diamonds and tremblant mobile jeweled flowers. The surround was extremely detailed and delicate, and there was millegrain all around – the grace of that piece was a revelation to me.”
“The diamonds I chose for the anniversary collection come from my Indian diamond cutter, who always has incredible, unique stones.” Yellow diamond Feuillage ring from the Pièces Uniques... 10 ans collection by Myrtille Beck.Myrtille Beck
When she was unable to find anything she liked on the contemporary jewelry scene, Beck decided to put her training to work and start her own brand: “there was nothing between the traditional high jewelry houses and modern fine jewelry labels that were more retail-focused. And nothing original at all in the engagement and wedding ring space”. She began doing bespoke, enjoying the client relationship and the process of developing the perfect piece for each one. Her first stand-alone collection, Allegria, was worked around forms including lozenges and leaf shapes set with tiny diamonds, ideal for layering. The stacking rings became recognizable on the Paris scene after they were featured in French Vogue and Elle. Allegria was followed by Amour Céleste, Cybèle and Feuillages – the designer’s favorite so far - to name a few of her most popular collections. Rose-cut stones and that antique-style millegrain setting became design signatures, and a unique new look was born.
Allegria ring stack by Myrtille BeckMyrtille Beck
Today, her line is mature, including sweetly refined love tokens like medallions for children, hand-engraved jewelry to celebrate the birth of a baby and unconventional engagement and bridal rings for both men and women. These are jewels designed to carry feeling and be worn intimately, next to the skin, so what of the designer’s own personal collection? “I have so many special pieces that I never take off. I wear a chain full of medals and charms that each mean something to me – one marks the birth of my son, one is engraved with our initials, one for protection, a diamond… then there’s my wedding ring, a necklace from my husband for my 40th birthday, one of my own Feuillage rings, a Noguchi pinkie ring given to me by a very dear friend…”.
For a company with such a personal tone and conviction, craftsmanship is key and over recent years Beck has built a small team of trusted bench jewelers who make each piece entirely by hand from her original sketches. The in-house team is underpinned by a solid and longstanding network of artisans and experts, for metals, cutting and of course, gemstones. “I know who to ask for each individual stone,” she says. “My British diamond dealer has the best Galaxy diamonds, with their tiny flecks and inclusions; I would ask my Paris dealer for brilliant-cut white diamonds, for example”. Her sapphires are sourced from an artisan in India, along with the rose-cut diamonds Indian craftsmen excel at. Unsurprisingly, she goes with her gut feeling when selecting stones, choosing those that stir emotion, whether that means “a certain light in the stone, inclusions that remind me of snowflakes, or a particular shape. I fall for stones that are unique pieces of nature’s marvelous heritage”.
Inside Myrtille Beck's boutique-atelierChloe Lapeyssonnie/Myrtille Beck
The next ten years are still a work in progress. Beck has reached a critical point in development and her next steps will need careful planning, whether she focuses on digital development and maintaining the exclusivity of the single Paris boutique with a larger space, or considers international expansion, tapping into the clients that contact her from New York, Los Angeles, London and Tokyo. But one thing is sure, she will do it all without losing sight of what forms the cornerstone of the business: love. Of beautiful stones, of techniques passed down through generations and of the process of creating jewelry to symbolize that most human of emotions.
Kate Matthams Contributor