Coralie Charriol Paul colors within the lines without sacrificing her creativity.
As VP and creative director of Charriol, a Geneva-based watch and jewelry company, she designs and launches half a dozen jewelry collections every year.
Paul’s challenge is to stay within the design outline that defines Charriol’s look. That look is based on a durable, flexible, twisted cable made of stainless steel. “That’s our DNA, so as long as I include that in the designs, it remains very Charriol, and within that outline I can be as creative as I want,” she says. So, within that context and motif established in 1983 by her father, Philippe Charriol, she’s designed very thin bracelets, chokers, stackables, and bigger, chunkier bangles to reflect what’s happening “on the street” and in fashion.
As a family-owned company with a global reach, Charriol has the flexibility to stay relevant and timely. The brand is currently represented by about 80 U.S. retailers. The Charriol customer is an upper-middle class woman who likes new things but isn’t buying into every new jewelry trend, Paul says. “They want classic styles that are of good quality and that are identifiable.”
Forever bracelet with steel cable wound neatly between two rims.
The twisted cable of the Celtic bracelet is now crafted in steel, bronze, black, pink or yellow-plated gold PVD, in monochrome or two-tone shades.
Malia bracelet with Charriol’s signature twisted cables treated in rose gold PVD with heart-shaped white topaz set in sterling silver.
Q&A With Coralie Charriol Paul
What are your early memories of Charriol?
My dad started the company when he was 40 years old after working 15 years with Cartier. So I was born into it. I remember my dad’s home office, seeing the designs, going to launch parties. It was just there, in front of me.
How did you start as a designer?
After studying art history in college, I took an accessories design class at Tufts. I showed my dad these handbag designs, and he said “These are pretty good, we should manufacture them.”
Where do you find inspiration?
I live in New York and I’m constantly bombarded by stylists and friends who wear jewelry. I see it in movies and even the museums. Sometimes I go back to vintage jewelry, as well as Egyptian and Celtic. Our bangle is similar to a 2,000-year-old bangle design. My dad was inspired by a Celtic bracelet at the British Museum in London.
Is there a category or type of jewelry that you like best?
I’m a cocktail ring girl. I love big rings and earrings. I love “out there” pieces, one-of-a-kind, outrageous, totally opposite from what I create. Some jewelry I go to bed with, I never take off, and some I pile on for parties. I believe that, like shoes, jewelry is essential. You may have a perfect black dress, but if you have great shoes and great jewelry, no one will notice the dress.
Do you wear your own designs?
I wear all my samples, so I am the tester. I make sure it doesn’t break, doesn’t irritate my skin. Once they come out to the public, I don’t wear them any more. I’ve moved on to the next one.
Web-Only: Quick Hits
What was your introduction to the company as a professional?
I entered through the PR department and helped launch a watch, working with the press, and from there I went to Japan, the Philippines ... I had studied about four years of Japanese in college, so I traveled for eight years back and forth to Japan. I traveled a lot in Asia, launching the brand, doing fairs and events. I earned my stripes that way.
What does your job in the jewelry department involve?
Launching six to seven collections a year, sampling, naming, marketing and creating visuals and packaging for the jewelry collections. From A to Z, the whole thing. I’m involved in other things as well in the company, which markets to open, which marketing strategy to employ, launching more products online.
How would you characterize the brand?
There is a lot of history and heritage. It’s a hybrid between fine and fashion. It has a fine name because we have watches. That gives Charriol the fine jewelry name. But our jewelry products right now are stainless steel and silver and have an affordable price point. So, where do you place Charriol? We’re a designer brand. It’s what people want. The name, the look and the price.
What else would you like retailers to know about the brand?
That although 80 percent of what we do is geared to women, we have unisex products and men’s products, watches and jewelry. We also make perfume and eye wear.
What signature pieces of jewelry define you?
In 2005, I designed a watch that won a best of design award, but sadly it didn’t sell the best. When my father started, he came out with the Celtic bangle, what we call the 101. That’s like the Love Bracelet of Cartier. I came out with the Forever collection, which is stainless steel with cable in the middle. That one and the Celtic are our two best collections. So I’m proud of that Forever bangle.
Please tell me about your involvement in film.
My other passion is film. My husband and I started a non-profit called React to Film. We bring issue-based documentaries into high schools and colleges and teach the students about social issues through the medium of film.
Describe your ideal leisure time escape?
Surfing is a new passion that started about four years ago. I just took five days off to go surfing in Costa Rica with a bunch of girlfriends. I have three kids at home. I called my 10-year-old son and said “Are you mad Mommy left?” and he said, “Don’t worry, don’t worry, I understand you needed a break.”
What do you like best about New York?
I’ve been here 15 years and every year I think about moving and I can’t find another place to go to. I see a lot of friends, I run around, I meet a lot of interesting people. It’s a creative place and there’s a lot of business happening, thinking about collaborations with different brands. It’s a hub of press and bloggers and fashion.
What is your goal for 2017?
I’m trying to figure out the omni-channel approach to the customer, using online, using retailers and using the website. Merging the real retailers and the places you see the jewelry with the virtual world. How those two work together and bring out the best in each other. Without the retailers, we can’t have a business.
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