“Creativity—you either have it or you don’t. Either you’re a dreamer or you’re not,” said Roberto Coin. He’s the brain behind Italian jewellery brand Roberto Coin, whose inception came about in 1996. Known for a hidden, small ruby set on the inside of every piece he creates, the brand is true to Coin’s passion for life—coffee and tobacco included. His idea for a hidden ruby stems from an ancient belief: People thought that wearing a ruby next to their skin could make them live longer and be healthier and happier. Even today, many still believe that rubies have magical abilities, such as bringing peace. Every single piece of Roberto Coin jewellery is a result of Coin’s experience with culture and influences. “Different countries, different art, different ladies, different ways of dressing—it gives me ideas. I interpret what I see in creating a design which has never been seen before,” he shared with GRAZIA Malaysia. Coin says that creativity comes to him naturally—and it never runs out. “It’s endless, thank God. When I see a carving, do I want to copy it? No. I will make a carving which has never been seen before; a new one.”
Previously a hotelier, Coin had to learn jewellery design and the business of it from scratch, which was something out of his element. “I cannot really design. I was in the hotel business. But I can write beautifully, so I sketch. Sketching is not the same as designing,” he explained. But his eagerness to learn, and visiting over 1,000 different factories around the world, led him to create designs that made it to the wrists and necks of Hollywood A-listers. “I understood the technology and how a piece gets made. I got very important people working with me and after seven years, we started manufacturing. It didn’t happen just like that. Coming from another industry helped me a lot because I see jewellery and fashion in a different manner than all the jewellers, which is what they’ve been doing their whole life.”
Then, there are characteristics that he brings over from being a hotelier: “It’s how I receive you, or my guests. Being able to speak to your clients in a very professional, ethical, and elegant manner, that to me is the same. You’ve got to understand who is in front of you,” he explained But service is not just it. “At a hotel, good food is a must, so good service and good quality jewellery, and the security of buying a Roberto Coin piece is something that I will guarantee.”
Proud of being an independent company, the Roberto Coin factory trains their employees through all the different departments. “I wanted to be independent so I can change collections every three months. If something goes wrong—four months. (laughs)” He added that there is a shortage of people wanting to join as artisans in the factory, because, “Before you start making our jewellery, you have to go through two years of hell. Hell.” Training is as tough as it gets. “There are a lot of security guards at the factory, as there might be robbers.” Yet, Coin believes that “innovation and diversity within the company is a must. So, we have to invest in these young people and we’ll invest with pleasure if they really love what they do.”
This article was first published in GRAZIA Malaysia‘s October 2023 issue.