Eva Meijer personally sources, designs and produces one off beautiful gemstone jewellery for her business Eva Gems and Jewels. Visiting Bangkok, the world’s trade hub for colored gemstones, Eva searches for rare and unique gems to place within her bespoke pieces or to hold as a future heirloom.
We are interested at #TeamCoco to find out more about Eva’s background, how she got into rare jewels, and what her favourite pieces are from her latest collection.
Q. HOC. You come from a non-jewel based background, can you tell us what industry you started your career in?
A. Eva. After law school in Holland, I used to work as an international corporate lawyer for an American multinational in Geneva and in my native Holland. So that was slightly different!
Q. HOC. Can you tell us how you first got into making unique jewellery, especially using rare gems and jewels?
A. Eva. Well, we had just finished a big cross-border finance project in the Dutch office and I felt that I was ready for a next adventure in another country again!
I also missed being creative and so, inspired by the effortless Italian & French fashion and colored gemstone jewelry from my youth (I spent all my holidays in the South of France, close to the Italian border and often still do actually!) and my mum’s fashion sense, I decided to go from black-and-white contracts to colored gemstones.
I always loved the ease of style of the Italians and French, and how they use accessories to dress up a simple outfit into a head-turning look. I sensed how this creative part was missing in my life. I literally wanted to add more color to my life!
While putting on my own gemstone earrings, I recalled how I’d always been fascinated by gemstones and realizing that I didn’t know much about gemstones, I knew I had to study again: I went to look for the best gemology course I could find in color stones.
This took me to Bangkok, Thailand, the world’s trading hub for colored gemstones where I lived for a small year.
That’s where I fell in love with colored gemstones and their stories; so much so that I wanted to share this knowledge with people in the West, who mostly don’t know much about these rare, exquisite gemstones.
Q. HOC. You travel far and wide to source the most beautiful rare gems for your jewellery, do you have a favourite part of the world to source the gems?
A. Eva. My favourite remains Bangkok, the biggest player in the global colored gemstone trade. This is the place where all the rough gems – coming from mining areas, such as Africa, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Tajikistan to name a few – end up. In Bangkok the stones are then cut, polished and treated, where necessary (plus it happens to have the most delicious food and a lifestyle I love, but that’s a minor detail of course).
I also love going to Hong Kong, which hosts the biggest gem fair in the world. Funnily enough, the biggest colored stone fair is no longer in Bangkok but in vibrant Hong Kong although the global day-to-day colored gem trade still mainly takes place in Bangkok.
Q. HOC. We are loving your motto that ‘all jewellery should be worn daily, not just for special occasions’; do you have a favourite piece from your current collection that you would wear from morning to night?
A. Eva. Thanks! Well, actually all pieces can be worn from day to night… I notice that it’s more a mindset issue that prevents women from wearing exquisite jewelry pieces during the day. The great thing about fine-quality colored gemstones is precisely that they have the strength to be worn every day contrary to lower quality gemstones which more easily scratch or break. It’s a strange contradiction, isn’t it? That we often prefer to collect more jewelry pieces of lesser value and quality and wear them the whole day while you’d be better off focusing on fewer yet higher quality pieces that actually can resist much more of the daily wear-and-tear!
Somehow many of us still believe that beautiful pieces should be saved for the weekend or a special celebration. I think we need to celebrate each day! And ourselves first of all. Nobody can do that as well as we can ourselves.
It’s a bit like beautiful lingerie: why would you wear that during the day when nobody can see it? Simply because of the way it makes you feel. It’s your indulgence. Your pleasure, there and then.
And although everybody can see your jewelry, very few people will have heard of the stones which I use in my jewelry pieces. Even fewer will have seen them before. So, others might not even know how special these stones are. I feel it’s most important that the woman who wears them knows. It’s her personal mystery and internal pleasure that makes her feel precious, treasured and sparkle! The stones help her express what’s already inside her.
But back to your question… My favourites pieces are the Unbearable Lightness earrings with special green and blue aquamarines, and small pink sapphires paired with the ring Curvy Does It which is set with a bright pastel pink spinel gemstone and bubblegum pink sapphires twisted around it. A perfect set to combine with jeans and blazer, with a corporate outfit in the office and oh so dazzling for an evening cocktail as well!
Q. HOC. Do you have a best selling piece that you have been asked to recreate time and again?
A. Eva. I have recreated the ring Lavender Fields a few times as engagement rings. But with different stones and in different colors, tailored to the style and personality of the woman who will ultimately wear it. Each piece is one-of-a-kind because I only source one stone of each variety, color and shape that strikes me as particularly beautiful.
This ring is especially well suited as an engagement ring I think because it’s contemporary, quite clean but not minimalistic. It’s a great design to start your fine gemstone journey with.
Q. HOC. Your Instagram (@evagemsandjewels) showcases your designs beautifully, do you find social media helps to promote your brand?
A. Eva. I’m still finding my way in the world that is social media I have to say! It’s necessary to be visible but, like many creatives, I struggle with sharing my work or journey all along the way… And perfectionism is not always helpful either!
With Pinterest we managed to get traction much more quickly and now we’re working on optimising it further so it brings more of those views as leads back to the website. Like all social media, it takes time and you don’t want to spend all your time on it either.
For my price point, what has worked best thus far is through intimate, in-person events, personal appointments, and word-of-mouth.
Q. HOC. Do you follow jewellery fashion trends when it comes to your designs?
A. Eva. Actually I don’t. I focus on sourcing exceptional colored gemstones in fashion-forward colors and then let the stone guide me in the design by matching it with other stones to create unusual color combinations, often with asymmetrical elements but no complicated designs. The stones are so unique, I let them do the talking! And I somehow felt when I started that colored stones would become more popular, especially among older Millennials.
I do get inspiration from fashion, architecture and my surroundings during travels which show us the most beautiful color combinations possible. People can get so restricted by following ‘trends and rules’, like ‘you should never combine reds, oranges and pinks’. They are one of the best color combinations actually! Remember Christian Lacroix and Yves Saint Laurent.
I love layering colors of closely related hues but also blocking opposing colors for a more unexpected look.
Q. HOC. Do you remember your first piece that you made and sold?
A. Eva. My first sale were two lighter blue aquamarines and one darker violet-blue tanzanite which I turned into a ring for another lady. The different blue hues of these three stones set together resulted in a lovely combination!
Q. HOC. Did anyone offer you any good advice before launching your business that you still remember to this day?
A. Eva. There was this old-fashioned cartoon in my dad’s office I remember as a child. One of a well-to-do gentleman sitting comfortably on a beautiful chair with the text below ‘I sold cash’. And another photo of man, not so well-off… who looked miserable and with the text below ‘I sold on credit’.
Perhaps you know it! It keeps reminding me that the most important thing to focus on, especially as a young company, is generating cashflow and liquidity… without that, you cannot do anything.
It will not only enable you to build a nicer website (if you need that later on) or hire someone else, it will also fuel your enthusiasm as to why you started your business in the first place. It keeps you going basically, also through trickier times.
Q. HOC. Did you have any knock-backs or set backs before launching, and if so how did you bounce back from them?
A. Eva. Yes, by losing my focus and thinking I need to do all the aspects of business right here and now. This meant my work and day became ineffective and I had to take a step back. I worked (and still do) with business coaches – in person and also online – who made me realise that.
I came to understand that most business tasks are actually confined to a particular stage of business. So, as start-up you don’t have to think of sales funnels or having the most effective SEO on your website, or even about posting on Instagram every day (which everybody says you should)… Your only focus should be to get in front of clients, refining your offer and fine-tuning your ideal client profile.
It’s powerful (and very scary!) to let go of many things and only focus on one or two things. Headspace also helps me with that! I try to start each day with 10-mins of breathing as I call it. It’s still a learning curve but it’s already great to be aware of what I’m doing. That helps me a bit already to adjust and move on.
Q. HOC. If you were to offer one piece of advice to someone thinking of getting into luxury jewellery designing, what would it be?
A. Eva. Keep It Simple… You can get lost in so many aspects of your business: sourcing the materials for your jewelry, looking for new suppliers, creating designs, email marketing, social media, creating a beautiful website, photography, video, blogs, promotion, press, many areas of which may not be your natural skill and which you may have to learn from scratch…
People often say ‘stick to your strengths’ only. True but as a small company you need to do many different things. And you need to learn many skills, especially during the first years. So that when you can hire other people or freelancers, you can delegate a good system to them instead of a mess…
If you feel overwhelmed by all the things you can work on any day, try to stick to learning one new skill (like Instagram or Pinterest) in addition to your most important job: getting clients, looking for clients, trying to meet with clients, sending messages to potential clients.
Once you’ve become good at the one skill and a system has been created around it, you can perhaps delegate it to someone else or automate it. Then you can try to learn another new skill. But finding clients should never disappear off your radar. Something I need to remind myself of as well! It’s easier to focus on my website or learning to get better at copywriting but what have I done today to meet new people? Keep it simple…
Thank you for taking the time to answer all our #WomenWorldwide questions for House of Coco Magazine.
Visit Eva Gems and Jewels for more information. Instagram @evagemsandjewels.