GEMOLOGUE by Liza Urla
The series of interviews with women and men who have personalities, story to tell and their own GEM style. They make it happen for themselves all over the world and follow GEMOLOGUE by Liza Urla.
I spent a lovely afternoon with Valery Demure at her studio in Bethnal Green. I met Valery for the first time while doing my jewellery curation for VICKISARGE, and Vicki was the one to introduce us. Valery’s profound love for jewellery is contagious, and her personality sparkles like a diamond. It was a real joy to talk to her and her excitement levels are off the charts when a piece of jewellery is in sight!
There is no doubt that Valery Demure is a jewellery powerhouse. She is a successful jewellery PR and consultant with a vast wealth of knowledge from many years of experience in the field. She launched her eponymously named agency in 2005, and the studio works across the entire spectrum of PR/communication, sales and retail to shape brands and build successful businesses. She has made a real difference in many jewellery designers’ worlds.
Valery Demure is a jewel in herself. I love jewellery, and that means also Valery! And to tell you a little secret, I am slightly envious of her diamond tattoo behind the ear…
Name: Valery Demure
Alma Mater: PR and Journalism studies after a History of Art degree
Occupation: Creative Agency and Showroom director
Hometown: Lyon, France
LOCATION AT TIME OF INTERVIEW: Hackney, I lived in this cool building before setting my business here, this building has had many interesting tenants and stories. It is extremely multicultural and all sorts of businesses, from niche ice creams makers to art galleries, to Costume designers…etc When I opened here, this neighbourhood was not what it is now. A lot dodgier, much less hip. One of my friends had a studio in this building and she helped us to find a studio here. At the time, this building offered super cheap rent, and rent has increased like crazy because the area is now so hip. Still I love it, and I know many people, and all the shops around know me.
IN THE BEGINNING: I see jewellery as a wearable object, as a “body” sculpture..It is always intriguing to me. How it sits, how it looks on the body, on the finger, on the neck.
LONDON: My favourite restaurants are: Il Cudega, Bread and Wine, Taberna Mercado, Boca di Luppo. Favourite galleries: Maureeen Pauley, Stuart Shave, Victoria Miro, Hauser and Wirth. Favourite boutique: Didier Ltd in High Street Kensignton, he is extremely knowledgeable about jewellery and owns the most incredible jewellery collection. I don’t shop a lot in London, I only shop when I travel really, I find London a little boring in terms of shopping. I love antique stores around Notting Hill.
VALERY DEMURE: I was buying for a jewellery store, I had built many contacts and realised that there was no real platform to promote jewellery. I left this company, frustrated and looking into setting up my own business, did not like working for a boss and wanted to be my own boss! I met with Francesca Burns at a party and she said to me” go on, girl, get going, open your agency and promote jewellers, you are very good at it” and it all started from there. My partner who is now my husband supported me all the way. We set up a one-of-a-kind agency, we were the only one at the time. Business has definitely changed a lot, retailers today take much less risks, consignment is a huge issue, and the jewellery market is very saturated. To select designers, I have three conditions: 1. They must have created a signature, they must be original, 2. They must be business minded to a certain extent, and trust me this is not the easy part for designers, and ideally 3. They must be decent people, good business ethics, good at listening, at engaging in a dialogue, ready to be challenged, of course meeting designers who are talented, business minded and loyal, grateful, appreciative, honestly it is not an easy task.
POWER COMES FROM: Knowing yourself and having a great focus.
TOPSHOP OR CHANEL: Neither, Comme des Garcons mainly, touches of Celine, Junya Watanabe, Hussein Chalayan, Libertine, Miu Miu. The last item I bought is a crazy hand-embroidered coat by LA brand Libertine. I love shoes, and I collect fun shoes, as well as sunglasses. I have a huge collection of sunglasses. Love colorful accessories, love hats too but don’t wear them much! Ha ha ha
ONLINE SHOPPING: Yes 1stDibs, The apartment.dk, kids clothes at Smallable for my daughter and this French furniture marketplace, Brocantelab. But generally don’t like shopping online that much for special things.
VALERY DEMURE SHOP: We launched 3-4 years ago. Curating for me is instinctive and very personal. We add new pieces as and when we receive, and the average price range from £150 to £1500. I think it is crucial to speak to a larger audience and we can only do this online: we have customers all over, Russia, Australia, Korea… the main aim of our online store is to present a tight edit of independent brands. It is a very personal edit, we often find brands before other stores, we carry brands from all over the world. I have always wanted to create a destination accessories and jewellery store for object lovers, looking for a statement, for originality.
GEM STYLE: I am super eclectic. I don’t wear jewellery that is too crafty or too dainty, I don’t like jewellery that is just decorative, and I would never buy jewellery from the High Street. Jewellery is too special for me, I love statement pieces, I love vintage but vintage has to still feel bold and cool. I just discovered Judith Hendlerduring a trip in Palm Springs, bought an amazing necklace. I love unusual materials. I have many many jewellery boxes, you have no idea. I like crystals but don’t like when they are OTT, I like when the design is super contemporary. My dream would be a bright ceramic ring from Taffin and a one of a kind from Hemmerle. One day in NY at FD Gallery I fell in love with a rock crystal ring by Belperron, it fitted me perfect but my husband would have killed me if I had even considered purchasing it. I also saw a beautiful watch recently, no idea of the brand, just loved its design, proportions…
JEWELLERY POETRY: There are many categories, costume jewellery, fashion jewellery, silver jewellery, ethnic jewellery, art jewellery, craft jewellery, fashion fine jewellery, fine jewellery, high fine jewellery… I think these are words we use to describe what type of jewellery we are talking about. From all these categories, all types can be poetic, I love costume jewellery, ethnic jewellery can be very interesting etc of course precious materials are magical, I for example love pearls and love the use of uncommon materials and techniques, I find Sevan Bıçakçı jewellery absolutely poetic, would I wear it ? I am not sure. It does not stop me from feeling enchanted by his jewellery.
FIRST JEWELLERY: My grandmother gave me an earring that belonged to her deceased daughter and I still have it. I am very open minded when it comes to jewellery, I tend to fall in love with a design and with the piece of jewellery as a whole. I love certain materials more than others yes even thought they are not always not of the highest value. I love the mix of materials. I love watermelon tourmalines, denditric agates, rock crystal, lavender jadeite… I love inclusions. I love going to places like the Biennale des Antiquaires, PAD, Places like FD in NY, I love De Vera in NY too, I like TEFAF in Maastricht etc…
MY EVERYDAY JEWELLERY: All depends on my mood, I love to wear rings and earrings, I own many many very different rings, all are quite special I think. I love to be playful with my jewellery, mix pieces that are not really meant to be worn together, surprise myself. Of course I love my engagement ring, it has a special meaning to me, it was designed by a dear friend and given to me by my man. I love Taffin, Hemmerle, Melanie Georgacopoulos, Monique Pean, Alice Cicolini, Silvia Furmanovitch, Polly Wales ( love her skull rings, they are AMAZING and I just got mine from her after a year of being patient ), love Ioanna Souflia’s marble jewellery, coloured stones pieces mainly Alice Cicolini and Fernando Jorge. Also I love some of Vhernier’s pieces.
PERFECT ENGAGEMENT RING: A ring that sums up who you are, and that you will love forever, a ring that will age well with you, I think a woman should have complete freedom to choose her engagement ring, recently we had a client who asked one of our designers whether she could design an engagement ring for his girlfriend, if she could make a proposal through sketches and he would give the sketch to her first and then see how she feels, involve her in the design, the choice of the stone etc I love that ! They would both meet with the designer and design the ring with her. I love this journey together to design the ring. I think there have been and there are still too many rules and an engagement ring should reflect who you are, and should not just be about a big stone, about impressing everybody, about having a big whopa diamond necessarily. Complete freedom! My husband felt that I would love the ring he was to give me and I loved it, I still love it, it is very me and I think I will always love it. He proposed after 15 years so he kind of knew me well when he proposed. We actually never intended to marry, we thought we would just remain engaged and then seven years later we married, our daughter Paloma was 3 years old, she was our bridesmaid.
ROLEX OR CARTIER: Funny I am not interested in watches although I lately saw a beautiful watch at PAD and I almost bought it. But I did not because I never wear a watch, I don’t like to be reminded of the time passing. I don’t like time constraints, I like to take my time. There is never enough time.
MEN JEWELLERY: Really, men should be able to wear any jewellery they like. I love men wearing jewellery that represents who they are. Love bikers jewellery, again not interested in big fancy watches. Love skaters, surfers, bikers, dudes….love guys with tatoos and jewellery. I love free spirits.
FINE JEWELLERY: I love a designer’s signature, when a piece of jewellery is instantly attributable to a designer. I find there are far too many copies, too much generic jewellery on the market. I love a strong point of view with exquisite craftsmanship.
JEWELLERY AS AN INVESTMENT: Why not but it is not for me.
VINTAGE JEWELLERY: Love vintage jewellery but don’t like it to feel dated, don’t like when you can say, this is a 1920’s pair of earrings, I like when vintage jewellery still feels contemporary, when it has not aged or when it has aged super gracefully. For me vintage does not mean old, dusty.
FASHION JEWELLERY: I never wear jewellery to match or complement an outfit, jewellery is completely separate for me, a lot more important, it is also very very instinctive. With clothing, it is more complicated, it depends how I feel, how my body feels, am I tired or full of beans? Some days I feel like I want to hide in a big black oversized jumper and some other days I like to wear fun crazy pieces. Again with clothes I can really mix. Fashion jewellery is often for me a lot bolder, materials are fun, and pieces can be more statement, they don’t feel “status”, fine jewellery is always more ‘constrained’, more sophisticated, less fun. Still trust me I can have fun with fine jewellery but it is not easy to be as bold as with costume jewellery.
FAVOURITE JEWELLERY BOOKS: My favourite book is an out of print book on Suzanne Belperron, I also love the Rizzoli book on Taffin, love the book on Sevan Bıçakçı. Also have various books on art deco jewellery. And the book on the Moghuls jewellery.
TATTOOS: Again I love tattoos but don’t like the usual hearts, dragons, crosses, flames, roses. Love geometry, unusual, lines.
MY WEAPON OF CHOICE: A quite dark sense of humour!
WILD WISH: To be invisible whenever I want to. My dream!