Q: Caroline, thank you for traveling to Amsterdam to attend our official Akillis launch party. I am really excited that you're here and welcome. Have you ever been to Amsterdam before?
A: "This is the first time I've ever been to Amsterdam. I did my studies in Lille in the North of France. It really looks like Amsterdam. The architecture is really similar, the period is the same- I really like it. Especially today because the weather is beautiful and everybody is on bicycles."
Q: Your mother was a gemologist, is that right? You must have grown up with having gemstones and diamonds around you. What is your earliest memory of having gems and diamonds around you as a little girl?
A: "My mom, she always loved jewelry and she always had beautiful jewelry. It was her passion to study gems and diamonds. A friend of my father was a dealer of diamonds, rubies, and other precious stones. Whenever he came to our house, he always brought something with him to show me. I always was so excited when he came, it was like a game to come up with an idea of what we would do with the gem. Also, I was definitely not a doll girl. I was more like a boy when I was young - very active, lots of sports, I was fighting with boys."
Q: Interesting because I consider jewelry these days to be a profession many women are doing. But it's funny that you grew up almost as a tomboy because you offer so much jewelry for men. Why did you start designing jewelry for men?
A: "I came to jewelry especially for men because my dad asked me to make something nice to match his Rolex watch. I made the King George, which was a beautiful bracelet with diamonds on the side. It was really a masculine style. Men really like jewelry, but there is nothing for them. So I started to work a lot with black diamonds and black diamonds are cheaper, so its even better. All the time I kept in mind, men, jewelry for men. Men like diamonds, but they like it discreet. Not sparkling like this. So for a men's engagement ring, I put the diamonds on the side. For women, I wanted diamonds everywhere on the side on the top, everywhere."
Q: Was there ever another profession you considered going into other than jewelry?
A: "I like all things creative. I like design, I like redesigning houses. I know exactly what I want. I have a very visual mind. When I have inspiration, I immediately see it. I imagine something, and than we have to figure out the technical problems in the goldsmithing ateliers. Diamonds - they can't just fly in the air. It's like for this bracelet, the high jewelry one with the three rows, the Python. I wanted the scales to be almost floating in the air. The setting should not be visible at all. It should disappear. It was very hard to have something solid and nice with really almost invisible links between the scales."
"I like to make jewelry you can play with. For Akillis, we have also the Wanted collection. It's like a gun barrel and you make it turn. I like to imagine a very mean guy from James Bond with his cat and he's playing with the ring. It's really addicting to play with the ring. I really like first of all, a jewel should be very comfortable. You can wear it every day. You can wear it with a leather jacket and a very long beautiful cocktail dress. It should go with your style - whatever your style is. I wanted to create jewels and say, what kind of woman am I today? Am I a very dangerous girl? I will wear the Bullet. Am I a nice girl? I will wear the Puzzle. I want to play a roll, and which roll should it be? It covers a lot of my personalities."
Q: What about the Heartbeat collection?
A: "The Heartbeat is my favorite. When I saw all the stones, Paraiba Tourmaline, they are my favorite stones. It is turquoise but translucent. When I saw these stones, I said I want everything. I want everything for me. I thought about it for almost two years. I wanted something really pure, As usual, I like to twist every classical form of jewelry. I took the classic torque necklace but added the heartbeat with pave diamonds. When I saw those stones, my heart stopped."
Q: What I love about your jewelry and your brand is that you prove that there is so much more to jewelry than just hearts and flowers. What inspires you?
A: "Either you like it or you don't, but there is always something you like. For example, I sell the Puzzle to girls who are ten years old to 70. It speaks to people because it is not a collection that everyone can do. It also has French quality, it is visible - it's not only design."
"Another source of inspiration I transformed was the snake. I wanted to make something very geometric, pure. I've taken a python jacket which I love. I love it because you have scales, there are triangles, round ones, rectangular ones. It is very geometric. I'm trying to do something different. I won't include the head or the tail. I will create something only geometric to represent the snake. So I've taken my favorite shape of the scales, it is a triangular one. It is almost like an arrow a little bit. I take this shape, I stretch it, shrink it, repeat it. This is the Python collection."
"I really think Akillis is for a woman of our times- a very independent and strong woman. It is not for a very weak and angelic woman, it's for a strong woman. In my last year of business school, I had to write a thesis. Mine was about why people buy luxury goods. It's just to show status, to show that they are different. For example, when you want a Rolex, it's to show you have enough money to buy a Rolex. So my jewelry is about showing that we are powerful women. Its about what role do you want to play, which part do you want to play today? For me, jewelry is like sending a message to people. Its a strange way to see jewelry."
Q: Do you plan to do more bridal? You have a couple rings that seem to be inspired by the Cruella rings. Do you want to do more?
A: "Yes. In the beginning, I didn't do any bridal jewelry at all. Jewelry was a way of expression for me. I only started doing bridal when I got married. My husband wanted some diamonds but he didn't want it to be too flamboyant. So I said, I will only put diamonds on the side. But for me, I have diamonds on the top, on the side, everywhere and anywhere we could put them."
Q: Are you working on any new collections?
A: "Yes, in fact, we have a brand new collection. We don't have every detail because we will unveil it in September. Its really rock and roll, really pure Akillis essence, the Akillis DNA for men and women with a very strong symbol of love. It's not a heart or something too romantic. It's something strong because when you are in love you are trapped. We will have black diamonds with black titanium for men, dark grey titanium mixed also with black diamonds. So it will be very exciting for men.That's all I can say."
Q: Who is the Akillis muse?
A: "The Akillis woman is very, has a lot of different personalities. She should be rock and roll, she should be also very classy. Maybe Rihanna? But she is not classy. Perhaps Beyonce, but still, no... maybe I am the Akillis muse. Every collection really reflects an aspect of my personality."
Q: Where do you see the Akillis brand in 5 years?
A: "I see Akillis a bit more commercial but still very exclusive. Everybody says its so nice I would die to buy it but it is a bit expensive. So now we are working on entry level prices to enrich the collections. We are going to propose more reasonable products between €1-5k. Its nice to make something crazy but it's even better to see people wearing your own jewelry. I see people in Monaco wearing my jewelry; most of the time it is men."
Q: Akillis is mainly diamonds, gold, titanium. Something you use pops of color with Tanzanite and Pariba. But then, sometimes you also use alternative materials like feathers. Why feathers?
A: "Feathers for me is very French- its cabaret, Moulin Rouge, they're very precious. Feathers are exotic and attract the eye. I had a crazy idea to mix snake and birds because usually they don't like each other; they are fighting, but it makes for an interesting story about who is more powerful. I explored which feathers I liked the most and thought, how can we use them on a jewel?"
"Eventually we made the cuff with rooster feathers- with yellow and turquoise, this one is just amazing. you have more than 100 feathers per centimeter. There needs to be so many so there's enough density to make it very full and beautiful. This is really also an art because there is only one or two people able to do that. It was very challenging technically to mix diamonds and feathers. Now we have a couple of cuffs with feathers. One is more exotic like Rio, and one is more ethnic like Africa. Last year my husband and I renewed our vows in Africa. Every time we are in a new exotic country, we renew our vows."
Q: I can see how you get inspired through travelling to these far away places. I see a connection with your jewelry and exotic lands, textures, and color. The python is very exotic and almost Cleopatra like.
A: "That's it. Cleopatra is the Akillis woman. She is very clever, very classy, with one eye, she was telling everybody what she wants them to do. Cleopatra is the Akillis muse."