Born to a French-Mexican family, Colette Steckel of Colette Jewelry in Mexico City is inspired by the elements—think bugs, planets, and the like—and tries to make jewelry “as art and fashion that is edgy,” she tells JCK.
She started designing jewelry in her teenage years, and even developed a line of stone accessories that a local store owner began exporting and wholesaling for her, with some of the pieces eventually ending up on runway models in Paris.
Steckel launched her business in Mexico in 1999, and brought it to the United States in 2007. She studied graphic design at the Universidad Anáhuac in Mexico, and earned her graduated gemology degree from the Gemological Institute of America. She is represented by Fragments in New York City.
“Jewelry to me is an art form and different collections that I have created are inspired by very different things that I have seen and experienced,” she says. “Jewelry is all about expressing femininity in different ways and for different occasions in a format that is timeless.”
Editor’s Note: Steckel is being profiled for her contemporary interpretations of common objects. For example, I loved her giant bug necklace for its unexpected diamond-covered wings, and adore her blackened moon motifs (see slideshow) with moonstones for their play on the colors of outer space. Her color choices blend and/or pop beautifully with whatever theme she’s working with, and every piece she makes has some memorable detail that lingers in the mind long after the piece is out of view.
Jewelry designer Colette Steckel
JCK: When did you launch your business?
Colette Steckel: We launched in the United States in 2007. Colette Jewelry started in Mexico in 1999.
JCK: How did you get into jewelry design, and what is your training and education?
CS: I first came into contact with stones at the age of 13. I was making stone accessories when the owner of a local workshop recognized my talent and started producing them in Mexico. The fledgling jewelry line was received so well that the workshop began exporting the accessories to other countries and selling the pieces wholesale in Mexico. At that young age, my accessories were decorating models walking down the runway at the world famous Prêt-à–Porter fashion show in Paris. It was a great experience! As an adult, I studied graphic design at the Universidad Anáhuac in Mexico, and earned a graduated gemology degree from the Gemological Institute of America.
JCK: Describe your signature style and design process.
CS: I am inspired by the natural elements, and in every design I try to create jewelry as art and fashion that is edgy. My signature style would best be represented by the Galaxia collection where my inspiration came from the diversity of light shining in the cosmos and the contrast with the solid elements. The pieces are made from a mix of materials with different tonalities. The pieces combine gold, Tahitian pearls, black and white diamonds as well as black diamond fragments, in their most pure essence as they are found in nature.
JCK: Do you sketch designs for someone else to create the jewelry, or do you make all the jewelry yourself, or at least by others in a workshop under your supervision?
CS: I always begin with a simple sketch and then hand-make the prototype or limited edition pieces. Then, some pieces are made by the bench jewelers under my direct supervision.
JCK: Do you make all your own findings and components, such as chain and clasps?
CS: Almost everything is hand made. But there are some findings that I get from my vendors.
JCK: Is your jewelry cast or fabricated?
CS: Both, some pieces are cast and some others are hand made.
JCK: Where is the jewelry made?
CS: In Mexico and the United States
JCK: What metals do you work in?
CS: 24 karat and 18 karat yellow, white, and rose gold and platinum.
JCK: What stones do you work with and why?
CS: All of my pieces have diamonds in them. I also use rare semiprecious and precious stones as well as different colored diamonds. I use this variety of stones to create a variety of color in my work. These stones include Tahitian pearls, emeralds, rubies, sapphires, moonstones, fire opals, apatite, and tanzanite.
JCK: Have you received or been nominated for any jewelry design awards during your career?
CS: Yes, recently I received an honorable mention in the category of evening wear for the 2012 AGTA Spectrum Awards Competition.
JCK: How many U.S. accounts and international accounts do you have?
CS: My collections can be found in select Neiman Marcus stores, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Maxfield, Broken English, and London Jewelers, among other retail stores in the United States, Mexico, Russia, and Europe. In total, I have 15 accounts in the U.S. and 30 abroad.
JCK: What jewelry shows do you exhibit in?
CS: The Couture Show in Las Vegas
JCK: What is your starting retail price for each metal you work in?
CS: My starting retail price in gold is approximately $1,200.