Designer finds niche in handmade jewellery scene
By Marie Feliciano
Known tor his "bench made" jewellery pieces, New York-based Leon Mege loves creating wearable treasures with his own hands — from forming various shapes out of metal sheets and wires to setting polished gemstones into his special mountings.
In an interview with JNA, the award-winning designer talks about his love for bespoke platinum jewellery; his fascination with "Pigeon blood“ rubies.
Kashmir sapphires and Windex-coloured Brazilian Paraiba tourmalines: and his business plans tor 2017.
JNA: What made you decide to start your own jewellery brand?
Leon Megé: An overabundance of uncompromising creativity.
JNA: How did you manage to carve a niche in a market that is highly competitive?
Megé: By focusing only on high iewellery made entirely by hand. no casting. no CAD/CAM: I earned a significant following among people who appreciate only the finest. I am committed to the slowly dying art of making jewellery by hand. There are plenty of designers who make Jewellery by hand but not the type of the iewellery I am specialising in - platinum couture.
JNA: How do you strike a balance between the business side and the creative aspect of the business?
Megé: Art is a work without a middleman between the Artist and the Nature.
Since being an artist is more important for me, I always err on the creative side at the expense of business success. Making money is nice, but it‘s not the ultimate goal in life. What is the ultimate goal? I don‘t know. Once I am done rereading Tolstoy. I‘ll email you the answer.
JNA: You love using coloured gemstones in your jewellery pieces. Which are your favourite gems and why?
Megé: I consider the following three gemstones my favourites: Pigeon blood rubies. Kashmir sapphires and Windex-coloured Brazilian Paraiba. I would need need to spend days explaining why, but I don’t have that much time.
Ruby - my birthstone is the most passionate gem ever, it's "crystallized love" the way l see it.
Kashmir - the most amazing and mysterious, with its magical velvety colour. Once I saw one. I was floored. One day, I said to myself, I will own a Kashmir. Not Ceylon, not Burma, but Kashmir — a cosmic galaxy in a speck of a blue abyss.
Paraiba is an essence of happiness that you can take with you no matter where you are. Its electric colour will jolt you back to happiness, no matter who is president.
JNA: What differentiates your jewellery creations from those produced by other designers?
Megé: I am a traditional minimalist I create pieces that are subtle. their shapes and forms are classic, and they are all floral-based. As a designer I feel I am closer to a florist or a composer. A florist doesn't create the beautiful flowers but simply arranges them.
A composer doesn't create new notes. They already exist, as well as the piano and other instruments. But what we do — we add a new property to the subiect of our art, be it flowers, gemstones, sounds that don't exist in nature — a power of composition.
JNA: With social media. has it made it easier for independent jewellers to break into the mainstream market?
Megé: Yes and no. Social media blurred the distinction between a real designer and a self-promoting hack. So tar. the hacks are winning.
Unfortunately. people are gullible to trust those who have more lnstagram followers than real professionals who actually work with their hands and don’t have time to like, chat, follow and comment.
JNA: Which of your most recent accomplishments are you most proud of?
Megé: My latest accomplishment is Cleopatra — a kitten I adopted from a shelter. She has six paws due to a rare genetic mutation. She is very cute.
JNA: What exciting projects are you working on for 2017?
Megé: I created a new category of iewellery — “affordable couture" (to be trademarked). This is something new and exciting — finest lewellery that even a person with a relatively small budget will be able to afford, yet made with the same duality and precision as other pieces worth millions.