There’s a bit of magic that happens when an artisan creates a piece for someone they love.
When Roberto Coin designed his first collection, he wanted to do something special for his wife, who, he says, was the source of his inspiration. So he created a custom piece with a ruby embedded on the underside. The idea was that the ruby would “kiss her skin” when she wore it.
At the time, he didn’t imagine that he would incorporate this detail into all of his collections, or that it would become his “signature,” recognized by women around the world.
Born and raised in Venice, Italy, Coin began designing jewelry over 30 years ago for such icons as Tiffany and Cartier. Twenty years later, in 1996, he started his own brand, creating treasures of gold, many accented with diamonds and colorful gemstones. His first line, Appassionata, garnered much praise and helped him quickly rise to the top of the international jewelry scene.
A prolific designer, Coin debuts over 600 styles annually, many custom-designed for different regions or countries. His collections comprise rings, earrings, necklaces and bracelets. There’s a piece for every taste and budget—from a simple hammered-gold bangle to topaz-and-sapphire necklaces to diamond-encrusted cufflinks for men, fashioned to look like tortoise shells.
Coin travels extensively and draws inspiration from many different cultures and climes. The colorful designs of the Ipanema collection, for example, with their bright gemstones, yellow gold and soft edges, are reminiscent of the beaches in Brazil. And the black sapphires that accent his Fantasia line evoke starry nights in Thailand.
Pois Moi, his latest collection, is at once classic and ultra-modern. In this line of bangles, bracelets and rings Coin takes a circle and softly squares the edges. It’s a slightly retro shape, reminiscent of old television sets from the ’60s. Next, he adds a pattern of gentle dimples to the gold surface and a shimmering window of diamonds. Pois Moi is poised to become as timeless as Appassionata.
Coin is especially proud of his Cento diamond, a unique brilliant-cut diamond that has 100 facets, nearly twice the number of a traditional brilliant-cut diamond. Cento, in Italian, has a double meaning—both “100” and “perfect.” His Perfect Diamond Hoop earrings have an inside–outside design that allows all the diamonds to be seen from both the front and the side.
All of Coin’s jewelry is made in Vincenza, Italy, the “city of gold.” Twelve factories employ craftsman from all over the world, who shape and mold the exclusive, high-quality creations that carry his name. His pieces are formed from 18-karat gold, in white, yellow and rose tones.
Coin is strongly committed to purchasing diamonds from sources who guarantee their stones have never been sold to finance any armed conflict, that is to say they are “conflict-free.” To guarantee this, he buys only from legitimate sources that subscribe to an international system of certification and warranties known as the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) and the System of Warranties.
For the same reason, Coin decided to use only synthetic rubies in his jewelry as an absolute guarantee that the stones do not come from regions in turmoil.
Charleston is home to one of only seven boutiques in the United States that carry Roberto Coin’s name, sharing the honor with resort communities like Park City, Utah, and Carlsbad, California. The Charleston boutique is located on King Street, in the heart of the historic district. Store manager Bryte Lesesne feels that the city’s old-world charm, sophisticated residents and reputation as a crossroads for visitors from around the world are all factors that appealed to Roberto Coin when he decided to locate here.
A final note about those rubies that he hides inside every piece of jewelry: In ancient Egypt, according to Coin, the Pharaohs gave their wives a ruby to wear against their skin, believing it would bring them good luck, health and happiness. Today, he is proud to continue that tradition, offering blessings to everyone who wears his jewelry.
Jennifer Heisler is a freelance writer and photographer in Charleston. Visit her at jenniferheisler.com.