A jump from corporate law to fine-jewelry design might not seem like the most obvious career move. But when Carole Midy explains her trajectory, it makes perfect sense. As a lawyer, Midy’s work with auctioneers had led her to fall in love with old-fashioned craftsmanship, like French cabinetmaking and Italian pietra dura inlaid stonework. This passion made her decide to abandon the law, initially studying fine art in the evenings and then training for four years to earn the French appellation of master jeweler.
In 2007, the Paris-based Midy created her own company and, in 2008, hired a former Boucheron craftsman to head her workshop. She now leads a team of four and aims at doubling sales each year for the foreseeable future. “In the beginning, one necklace allowed us to make another, and then three, and then five,” she says. Midy’s handcrafted collection of unique, signed pieces went on sale at the Paris department store Le Bon Marché in October, and the line will be launched in two boutiques stateside before the end of the month.
Recycled white, gray and yellow gold, silver and precious and semiprecious stones come together in pieces, like a ring featuring a carved amethyst frog, surrounded by other gems and sitting on a lily pad, part of a fantastical animal-inspired group. Simpler, more traditional-looking pieces on closer inspection stand out for the contrasting colors and quality of the stones used, and for the intricacy of the metalwork involved.
Midy’s line features five main themes for women — Samarkand, Taboo, Les Vanités (which includes skulls), Muppet Show and Flower Power — and there’s also a men’s collection, dubbed Boy. Average prices range from 2,000 to 5,000 euros, or $2,750 to $6,870 at current exchange rates. Each theme has a distinct inspiration, but a common, strong personality stamps all of them. “I try to bring out the energy of the stones,” Midy explained. “These jewels must live and accompany their wearer.”
Demand for Midy’s collection is growing, but she says she will resist the pull of mass production in order to maintain exclusivity and notes that she selects retailers that understand her ethos. With Le Bon Marché, for example, she plans to organize a conference series on themes such as the symbolism of stones.
Last holiday season, Midy designed an exclusive collection of 25 caskets and bottles for By Kilian fragrances decorated with semiprecious stones set in silver. (That firm has just launched a new handbag line.) She has also designed two necklaces for the luxury e-tailer Couturelab.com.