5 Minutes with Jewelry Designer Roberto Coin

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Every designer has a rich origin story – the path that led them to triumph – that sets them apart, but few are as remarkable to the point of disbelief as that of Roberto Coin. His journey to jewelry design is atypical in every sense, and that is quite possibly the root of his success. Not only was he orphaned at a young age, but he also has no background in design and enjoyed a successful career in the hotel industry. Not to mention, starting a new business at 32 is always a risk. However, not trying was never a choice for him, either.

Though Coin was a prominent hotelier, the contrasting creative field of design was undeniably his calling. After launching his eponymous line of luxury jewelry in 1996, he found that this new venture was a dream realized as he reached the upper echelons. Favoring elegance through delicate designs – and always leaving room for character – he creates pieces that cater to every woman. A testament to the Italian designer’s hard work and determination is his realization that fashion was just an extension of the hospitality industry, with the focus always being on the consumer.

Now, despite decades in the industry and over 1,000 boutiques in 60 countries, his modus operandi hasn’t wavered: whatever makes the public happy makes him happy. To mark the recent opening of his store in The Dubai Mall, Roberto Coin sat down with Savoir Flair for an exclusive interview and shared insights on his legacy, the unexpected surprises within his store, and the one piece of jewelry he believes every woman should own.

Dubai Mall store
Photo: Courtesy of Roberto Coin

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became involved with the jewelry industry?
Well, I lost my parents at a very young age and, because of that, I was put into a boarding school in Switzerland. I liked the hotel industry and became very successful fairly quickly – I opened my first hotel at 24! I learned a great amount, which I transferred into my business. The hotel industry is a beautiful service industry.

We like to serve and look after the clients. You also get to understand the client faster in the hotel industry than any other. We get to learn the client’s tastes and how to take care of them, always putting them first. Then, fashion came. To me, it is art – it’s in our genes. I had it in my genes, and I had to see if I could do it. It was a big challenge because I knew nothing! But creativity is not the type of thing you attend university for. You either have it or you don’t – and I did. 

What exactly drew you to jewelry?
I am fascinated by a woman’s world, we all are. We look at women for many reasons and I’ve always been pro-women, elevating the stand for them since day one. Out of fashion, I chose jewelry – and even in jewelry, we are different from everyone else. We like to dress every woman differently. You are all different, so why would we dress you the same? 

With your new store in The Dubai Mall, what do you think sets you apart? 
We are a family business, and we would like to be close to the client. We want to be part of Dubai, so we focus more on the locals than the tourists. We want to fit in with the local taste that is ever-changing, too. The style is changing, and we want to fit in.

Can you tell us a little about the store? Was everything really imported from Italy?
Everything was made in Italy and brought here. We started with my designs for the lighting, and then everything else. We even put 24-karat gold into the glass doors, which was extremely difficult to do. From the lighting for the jewelry – to make it look elevated on its own – to the living garden, we wanted everything to be the best. We have a live garden in the front, which is rare inside a mall, but it’s something close to my heart. 

Photo: Courtesy of Roberto Coin

What’s your design process like?
I try to balance my collections to evolve – I won’t carry on with one type of design. If I do color, I’ll give it a break and do something else. I keep on changing, but I also pay attention to fashion. What’s in style? Long chains or short? Big earrings or small? We like to keep a balance that’s on trend. Also, I want to dress every woman differently. After all, when you go shopping, you always ask: “What is new?” So in theory, I’m following you.

Is there one piece of jewelry that you believe every woman should own?
I do like a woman with a powerful ring. Imagine you are by yourself, sitting in a cafe and having coffee. You start thinking, and you have that beautiful, powerful ring on your hand – that’s my girl. I like a powerful, intelligent woman with a big ring.

I like a powerful, intelligent woman with a big ring.

What is your motto in life?
I was born happy, I will die happy. I don’t represent money, I represent credibility and trust. What can I say? I’m very happy if you’re happy. I was without parents because they died when I was very young, so I’m fascinated by life and I want to bring joy. 

What will be your legacy?
I will be remembered for my ‘Appassionata’ collection. It was invented from my love for history, and it was the first collection by my brand. This is where I first inserted the ruby into my rings, and that became my signature. In ancient legend, if a ruby touched a woman’s skin, it brought good luck and prosperity. Now, each piece has a ruby and hopefully brings every woman luck.

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