Some jewels embody such poetry and beauty that they become instantly important as they make people look more stylish, graceful, or at peace in the world. Directed by Darren Hildrow and Valery Demure, the London-based NouvelleBox jewelry showroom is presenting jewels that embody this kind of power from 20 different U.K., European, Asian and the USA designers during Paris Fashion Week from September 28 until October 3rd. The NouvelleBox showroom at 9 rue d’Anjou is situated in Paris’s chic and leafy 8th arrondissement. According to company founder Darren Hildrow, “NouvelleBox is offering independent, design-driven jewels that embody strong luxury values such as rare design, superb materials and master artisanship.” Although he’s too modest to say so, his and Demure’s Paris Fashion Week event promises to be a blockbuster. Presenting 20 highly refined, design-driven and fashion-forward brands in one luxurious space is quite a coup. As champagne will be served, a bubbly mood will help buyers align with important jewelry lines. “It’s a great time to celebrate surviving the pandemic,” Hildrow observes, with an ironically raised eyebrow visible via Whats App video.
But seriously, Hildrow says, “Valery and I are delighted to have so many designers joining NouvelleBox for our first Paris show. We are offering a wonderful range of jewels from almost two dozen designers: from the clean and minimal to the outrageously glamorous, alongside both established and emerging brands.” As Hildrow recalls, “I founded NouvelleBox as an online showroom during the Covid pandemic spring of 2020, since retailers were prevented from visiting us in person and because trade shows were temporarily halted. Valery Demure later joined me and helped build out the NouvelleBox online solution to Covid-19-induced travel bans,” he continues. “Our members-only platform of designers, retailers and personal shoppers served many people’s jewelry business needs, then, and it continues to thrive now thanks to the dozens of new relationships with designers and retailers we forged through virtual means over the past two and a half years.”
Although “2021 may have been one of the best years in jewelry industry history,” Hildrow muses, “with small, luxury items like jewelry, there is no substitute for presenting collections in person to retailers, stylists and personal shoppers.” For example, he ventures, “How a design feels on the body. The way a gold ring looks in natural light. The weight of pendant earrings and the movement of tassels. Jewelry business people want and need to experience all of these firsthand,” Hildrow says, “so that they can best serve their customers.”
Hence the NouvelleBox showroom during Paris Fashion Week. “Valery Demure and I look forward to showcasing the independent visions of 20 NouvelleBox designers in late September and October,” Hildrow says. “After being just digital for a few years, it’s about time NouvelleBox morphed into physical form. Oh, and did I mention the free champagne we’ll be offering?” he asks with a laugh. “There are so many lovely social advantages afforded by showing designers to retailers in a physical space.”
For their first ever Paris presentation, NouvelleBox is showing the color-drenched adornments of Milan-based Bea Bongiasca. “Bea’s jewelry is so delightfully enticing that you wonder whether to eat it or wear it,” Hildrow observes. Regarding the refined designs of Beirut’s Joanna Dahdah, he says: “Joanna captures the multi-faceted beauty and culture of Lebanon in her elegant jewels.” While there are boldly expressive jewels by Greek-born Danai Giannelli, the super-stoned and sculptural chic adornments of Beirut-based Nada Ghazal, Hildrow maintains, “are sensual and organic works of art that feel great on the body.” Then there is the intriguing first fine jewelry range from the Royal Mint’s 886 brand, designed by Creative Director Dominic Jones. “Established in 7th century England,” Hildrow explains, “the Royal Mint is producing artistic, gender-fluid jewelry with gold reclaimed from obsolete electronic devices. It’s a very cool collection, and some of the pieces in it are inscribed with poetic sayings.”
Along with sleek statement collections from Japan’s Hirotaka, also on offer at the Paris NouvelleBox event are sexy minimalist jewels by Kloto, luscious gold and diamond adornments from L.A.’s Lizzie Mandler and post-modern romantic pieces by London-based Loquet. The red carpet glamour of Mindi Mond collections stands in beautiful contrast to collections by fashion-forward Milamore Jewelry, while artful ranges from the Netherlands-based brand Van Gelder and collections from Francesca Villa are materially and visually compelling. “If there is a more charming and whimsical jewelry line besides Francesca Villa’s, I have yet to see it,” Hildrow comments.
Highly dimensional and technically perfect pieces by Ouie, cosmically-inspired designs by Franco-Cambodian Samantha Tea, tongue-in-cheek fine jewels by Boochier and impressively classic jewels by the Greek brands Polina Ellis and Penelope Fine Jewelry “are sure to generate much interest among retailers,” Hildrow predicts. “I also believe that innovative and sustainably-focused brands like Dosisg6c, which sources very fine gemstones, will make a splash, and so will the Dutch brand Maqé, which uses solely recycled metals plus gemstones that can be traced back to their mines of origin.”
A luxury jewelry business veteran, Hildrow has directed various fine international brands like Jade Jagger and Noor Fares, and he has also propelled established ones, such as Erickson Beamon and Vicki Sarge, to higher retail heights. Working with Valery Demure, who brings her keen eye for talent and design that’s been honed over 25 years of experience, is a plus, says Hildrow. “In terms of taste, we balance each other out, and because Valery’s native tongue is French, this makes doing business in Paris that much easier.”
Paul Schneider, co-owner and co-founder of TWIST boutiques in Portland and Seattle notes, “There’s so much credibility afforded to a designer’s work if they are on an online platform like NouvelleBox or presenting at their Paris fashion week event. If you’re a retailer or a stylist, you know that you’re getting a savvy, careful edit of fine jewels from independent designers of integrity.” Schneider, who also owns and operates the vast, vibrant website TWIST online, adds that in this age of rampant copyright infringement, “You never have to worry about any pieces being knock-offs. Darren, Valery and NouvelleBox offer huge value to business people because the collections they present come pre-qualified.”
As New York-based George Inaki Root, Creative Director and founder of Milamore Jewelry explains, “Darren and Valery prize originality of design and recognize it immediately. They both have strong records in building and repping brands that embody new forms, new concepts, new trends.” (As Hildrow is English and Demure is a native French speaker, their showroom is bi-lingual.) “Because they carefully study the entire offering of a given retailer,” Root continues, “Darren and Valery can see and articulate how a NouvelleBox designer may add value to that company’s inventory.” Thus, Hildrow and Demure offer designers and retailers distinct diplomatic and business advantages. “They focus on helping develop brands to their fullest expressions, and because they are so passionate about the designers that they represent,” Root continues, “they do everything they can to build long-term relationships with retailers and e-commerce websites rather than focus on short term sales goals.”
As for Hildrow’s take on Milamore Jewelry, “I appreciate the sculptural and ergonomic engineering of Milamore’s highly dimensional forms of the diamond-studded Kintsugi collection.” Inspired by the Japanese applied art of Kintsugi, which involves repairing broken ceramics with lacquer infused with gold so as to glorify the repair, the forms and variegated diamond silhouettes of Milamore’s Kintsugi jewels remind this writer of what the French refer to as “le goût du relief”, which in English means “the relief taste.” (In fine art and applied art, any work in which the figures project from a supporting background is said to embody relief.)
“The record shows that Darren has a strong sense of what will set trends and what will sell well,” says London-based designer Vicki Sarge, whose fearlessly vibrant jewels have animated collections by fashion designers like Dries van Noten for years, and now retail in select boutiques such as the U.K.’s royal palace gift shops and museums like London’s Wallace Collection. “Darren worked for me for years and helped my business grow, and now he’s doing that for NouvelleBox.”
As Hildrow notes, “Jewelry often inspires the person who wears it with positive emotions and confidence. I believe,” he continues, that “the finest jewelry by independent designers does this while also enhancing the vision that others have of you, and hence their reactions to you. NouvelleBox,” he concludes, “is delighted to bring our artistically diverse universe of positive-powered jewelry to retailers.”