If you’re desperately looking to buy nostalgic pieces of jewelry next time and sport them on extra-special occasions of your loved ones, then you can’t help falling in love with what the incredibly talented fine jewelry designers from Russia bring to the table. Finding it hard to believe! Well, you need to open your eyes to see what great surprises they have in store for you.
To put it simply, you’re just going to be blown away by their creations because they’re truly reflective of absolute luxury and finesse.
And the one hugely popular name that’s ringing loud and clear among jewelry connoisseurs from around the world for a while is the country’s undeniably superb brand Cluev, founded by Ilya Kluyev in the late 80s.
In an exclusive interview with European Life, we caught up with him to find out what brought him close to the world of jewelry design, what it means to him and much more.
Kluyev’s bonding with jewelry began to take shape in his early twenties when he asked himself this soul-searching question: What would he like to accomplish or create in life his family would be forever proud of? To his surprise, he found the answer to this puzzle in the art of jewelry design. “I needed a special challenge to dedicate my heart and soul to and to be obsessed with. You know something endless, bright and extremely interesting! It was jewelry that instantly echoed in my heart. I just felt an urge of incredible attraction to it,” he says.
His intuition taught him one vital thing clearly that; he didn’t need to go the same muggy route like attending any prestigious design school just to learn the craft of jewelry design. Rather, he embarked on a different kind of path. In fact, he attained this degree of knowledge by constantly talking to his customers who he thought were the actual trendsetters. “At the Cluev jewelry house, we always like to stay in touch with our customers. We do so by understanding their tastes, preferences, their lifestyle or what kind of jewelry they want to see: bright, high-quality, unique and valuable,” he says.
Most importantly, Kluyev himself chooses the stones for all 300 jewels which are then produced in a unique copy every year with greater supervision, thereby inspiring the artists who work for him. “I’m learning all the time, and I do have gemological education and good taste,” he says.
His vibrant jewel pieces are a big “thumbs up” to the Russian style in jewelry design that is so much appreciated in all corners of the world. In his words, the Russian jewels are the riot of imagination, vivid colors and unexpected design solutions. “Our jewels are open and unforgettable. They’re alive and they’ve a soul. We think each person is unique, thus the jewels should also have their own unique flair. We value friendship, and the price should be minimal, while the quality should be nothing but the best,” he says.
Since each nation contributes to the world of culture, art and science, Russia is no exception at all. Its contribution in any sphere, he explains, is basically the search for higher meaning and search for eternity. “I think when experts call us modern Faberge, they mean exactly that special relationship towards our customers and jewelry- something our great predecessor was famous for,” he says. “This strongly supplements our words about the symbolism of precious stones, as well as the idea and special meaning of jewels in a culture we belong to.”
Inspirations and role models
A sincere heart never falls short of acquiring inspiring ideas from anywhere. It keeps its spirits high all the time. This is what one takes in from the way Kluyev pours a magical effect into his pieces.
His clients are the world of innovation. “I just love to dip into their experiences and emotions. It’s like being with a beloved girl whom you want to surprise and please, bring a smile and admiration to. We like to celebrate the smiles and joys of people when we exceed their expectations,” he says.
With regard to legendary jewelers who have greatly influenced him, they include the history of Cartier’s house, Graff’s history of traveling with a suitcase for different countries, Tiffany’s memories of soldiers going to war and presenting wedding rings to their girls especially Faberge’s attitude to the business and customers. “I look at the world with my eyes wide open, with genuine interest and admiration caused by the creativity of people living in different eras. And I’m happy to write my own page in this book,” Kluyev says.
Another engrossing point that Kluyev made sheds light on the well-known brands that have simply turned into the corporations for pumping money and completely lost all their valuable qualities. This is something they were once revered for. “I think currently women are desperately fighting for their individuality because they’re tired of the mass and tasteless serial decorations being imposed by these established brands,” he says.
That’s why he is happy to say that jewelry is once again returning as a symbol of bright individuality and family traditions. “This is no longer meaningless trinkets, but a symbol of deep understanding of life and personal relationships plus a symbol of love and family,” he says.
Getting beguiled by his scrumptious pieces of jewelry are those women who have set clear-cut agendas for themselves in life. They always aspire to remain themselves. “She doesn’t want to be like someone else, and creates her own image in accordance with her character and unique appearance. She is sincere, real, and full of life and love, attentive, penetrating, creative and looking for the best,” he says. “She is bright and extravagant, out-of-the box.”
Even women in Russia are quite sophisticated when it comes to style. They’re uncompromising in their choice of jewelry. They happily ogle at large and high quality stones, unique designs while their husbands closely follow the price and don’t allow it to fall below the psychologically significant level. “The Russians are looking for a special relation, outstanding quality and extraordinary design, however at the same time they feature the maximum value for money,” Kluyev says.
Arab women’s craving for jewelry
Women from the Middle East often visit Moscow to purchase his breathtaking jewels. It comes as no surprise that that Kluyev tends to have regular meetings with his Arab women clients including the wife of Sultan of Brunei. He knows the Arab women prefer luxury jewelry. They like large precious stones, high quality jewelry. They also appreciate the pleasantness factor in communication, courtesy, and attention. “In every meeting, the only thing I make sure to draw their attention to is the call to pay special attention to the quality and naturalness of the stones. They can be too trustful, and can be easily misguided,” he says.
When asked what he thinks of the taste of European women in jewelry, he explains, “They lean more toward simple and concise things. However, it doesn’t imply that there is a difference in the perception of beauty.”
To his knowledge, it’s rather connected with the general tendency to simplify life in the Western society, which he finds extremely odd to fathom with. This is something he doesn’t appreciate.
“Actually, the Western world is in the midst of an identity crisis at the moment. I don’t like the prevailing concept of fashion to wear jeans and T-shirts under the pretext of convenient things. I like beautifully dressed women, in well-designed dresses. Usually an exquisitely selected jewelry is the central part of their image,” he says. “And I feel honored to have such clients in Italy, Switzerland and France.”
Opening his first jewelry workshop
The reason Kluyev opened his workshops in Italy and Switzerland in 2001 was mainly because when he started his career twenty years ago, he didn’t have the intention to even try to create jewelry collections in Russia. But he turned to Italy, which was a recognized leader in the field of jewelry at the time. Once France was the center of fashion and jewelry, and then the garland of victory was intercepted by Italy.
“It wasn’t easy since we also had to face hard times in Italy, and it took years to create the ideal team, as it seemed to me then. We did some of our design work in Geneva. This involved working with diamonds with a diameter of 0.6 mm because the Swiss were specialized geniuses in these stones,” he says.
Having perfectly built the whole working structure from scratch in Italy for fifteen consecutive years, everything was on track and going well. “But five years ago suddenly everything was turned off and that’s when we opened a workshop in Russia. I was sure it’s time to create a truly Russian jewelry house, which I did by acquiring a jewelry workshop in 2011,” Kluyev says.
Although Kluyev doesn’t like to participate in high-profile haute joaillerie exhibitions, he has his own way to bring his mesmerizing collections to the customers. “Basically we arrange private shows in Russia and abroad and invite our customers and their friends. These are very popular events. They regularly fall into society columns. The new jewels are shown there in the uber atmosphere of friendly communication and memorable show.”
Another laudatory thing that Kluyev often takes care of is not getting too involved with the brand promotion like most brands do today. “We’re just satisfied that our happy customers recommend us to their friends. Honestly, I don’t like to give jewelry to celebrities for a while, so they could wear them on some events. We’re not engaged in renting jewelry. I’m very sensitive to my pieces of jewelry and their future owners, and I don’t want anyone to wear them,” he says.
But he admitted that his jewelry house did make an exception for the actress Meryem Uzerli from the Magnificent Century series. “She is an amazingly pleasant and bright person, and her energy only added values to the jewels she wore,” he says.
As the distances between people get narrower day by day, Kluyev harbors the vision of opening the world of his brand to wonderful people everywhere. “I want to be adored in the East especially India and China. I’m looking forward to be part of this new journey and will look for favorable opportunities wherever possible to make this dream come true as I wish to,” he says. “I’m just excited.”
In a nutshell, designing jewelry for him is an act of upholding his devotion to the Lord and His people. “This is my vocation of love that can’t be defined any other way,” Kluyev says.