To learn more about this award-win­ning de­signer and her fas­ci­nat­ing cre­ations, CYN­THIA UNNINAYAR caught up with her in New York just be­fore she boarded a plane to Paris to visit one of her pri­vate clients.


Car­o­line Chartouni’s Colour Wor­ship De­bas­mita Ghosh: Tak­ing Glass To A New Level (54)

To say that Car­o­line Chartouni is pas­sion­ate about gem­stones would be an un­der­state­ment. Her cre­ativ­ity and use of colour­ful stones have gar­nered her seven pres­ti­gious Spec­trum Awards in the United States. She is in de­mand not only for her orig­i­nal one-of-a-kind pieces and lim­ited col­lec­tions—sold un­der the Car­o­line C la­bel— but also for cus­tomised jew­ellery re­quested by dis­cern­ing clients around the world.

Car­o­line cred­its her pas­sion for colour­ful jew­ellery to her up­bring­ing in Paris. “In ad­di­tion to the beauty and art of the City of Lights, I was ex­posed to the fash­ion and jew­ellery in­dus­tries at a young age,” she rem­i­nisces. As an adult, she ini­tially turned to fash­ion and de­signed haute cou­ture for sev­eral years be­fore find­ing her true pas­sion— jew­ellery de­sign. “While I love fash­ion and con­tinue to sketch out­fits, I ul­ti­mately chose jew­ellery be­cause it is com­ple­men­tary to fash­ion. It was a nat­u­ral tran­si­tion,” she smiles. “De­sign­ing jew­ellery is also a form of art. It is quite a lot like paint­ing, sculp­ture or mu­sic.”

You can see el­e­ments of paint­ing, sculp­ture and mu­sic re­flected in her pieces, “in the sense that they have a sense of move­ment and flow­ing lines, with hints of whimsy to evoke the feel­ing of a sym­phony,” she muses. This sym­phony not only in­cludes a con­certo of colour, but also a sonata of sources around the world where she finds the pre­cious gems for both her re­tail col­lec­tions and her pri­vate clients. “I travel fre­quently in or­der to find just the right gems, and even go di­rectly to the mines around the world to find the per­fect stones for spe­cial cus­tom pieces,” she adds. “We have a wide range of gems in a mul­ti­tude of sizes, from those used in ca­sual jew­ellery to very rare gems des­tined for gem­stone col­lec­tors and in­vestors.”

Car­o­line ad­mits that find­ing spe­cial and rare stones is not easy, nor is try­ing to per­fectly match, for ex­am­ple, 10- or 15-carat stones. “But, when I do find a par­tic­u­larly in­ter­est­ing gem, I let its per­son­al­ity dic­tate the de­sign in or­der to show­case its unique qual­i­ties.” And colour, of course, is one of the gem’s most prom­i­nent unique qual­i­ties. “I use a lot of colour be­cause it gives depth to de­sign. It can make it soft and sub­tle or ex­u­ber­ant and bold. Colour ex­presses—and cre­ates—feel­ings. When light hits a gem­stone, it makes it come alive.”

What are the gems that ap­peal most to this tal­ented de­signer? “If I had to choose a sin­gle stone, it would be Paraiba tour­ma­line. I be­gan us­ing it long ago, way be­fore it started gain­ing world­wide at­ten­tion. The neon blue colour fas­ci­nates both the wearer and the ob­server. Its strong hues are in­com­pa­ra­ble and of­fer in­fi­nite de­sign pos­si­bil­i­ties.” She notes that Paraiba is also the most re­quested stone for cus­tom pieces.

While Paraiba may be her favourite, Car­o­line in­sists that she ap­pre­ci­ates all gem­stones. “They are the twinkle of Na­ture’s eye. Each stone has its own soul. It beats to its own rhythm. Its char­ac­ter and charisma are ex­pressed softly, yet vi­brantly in a splen­did spec­trum of colour. It can make the de­sign soft and sub­tle or ex­u­ber­ant and bold. When light hits a gem­stone, it brings the colour to life, en­hanc­ing its per­son­al­ity and emo­tional at­tach­ment.”

This “emo­tional at­tach­ment” is an im­por­tant el­e­ment in Car­o­line’s de­sign phi­los­o­phy. “Ev­ery piece I cre­ate must pass a ‘love test’,” she ex­plains, “or I won’t let it go.” It’s not enough for her to know that the new owner merely “likes” the metic­u­lously crafted jewel—a jewel that is as beau­ti­ful and well made on the back as it is on the front. He or she must feel an emo­tional at­tach­ment to it.

Be­fore Car­o­line be­gins a cus­tom de­sign, she spends time with her clients. She not only dis­cusses what they would like, but learns about them, as in­di­vid­u­als—their life­styles, their tastes, their per­son­al­i­ties, and why they want the piece. “Is it for a spe­cial oc­ca­sion, or ev­ery­day wear, or to say ‘I love you’? Only then can I be­gin to sketch the de­sign,” she ex­plains. “And, a strong de­sign should never scream, ‘Look at me.’ It should beckon the wearer to ex­plore ev­ery nuance, to feel a sense of magic and joy. A per­fect piece of jew­ellery is much more than the mere value of the gem­stone or the metal. It must have a dis­tinc­tive sym­bolic essence.”

Cit­rine cen­tre stone ring in 18-karat pink gold ac­cented with ru­bies and di­a­monds.

Tan­zan­ite and tsa­vorite team up in this geo­met­ric ring in 18-karat white gold.

Paraiba is one of Car­o­line’s favourite gems, and this in­cludes the green va­ri­ety, shown here ac­cented with di­a­monds and set in 18-karat yel­low gold.

A fash­ion sketch by Car­o­line Chartouni with her award-win­ning ear­rings in 18-karat white gold fea­tur­ing dan­gling Paraiba tour­ma­lines, emer­alds, tan­zan­ites and di­a­monds.

This award-win­ning plat­inum ring fea­tures an 8-carat pink sap­phire ac­cented with smaller pink sap­phires and di­a­monds.

Car­o­line’s most re­cent Spec­trum Award win­ner is this blue spinel and di­a­mond ring (seen here from above and side-on) in 18-karat white gold. The fash­ion sketch is by Car­o­line Chartouni.

Among the un­usual gems un­cov­ered by Car­o­line for her cus­tom clients is this award-win­ning and rare star sap­phire ring set in 18-karat white gold with di­a­mond ac­cents.

Spinels add colour to these award-win­ning ear­rings in 18-karat white gold ac­cented with di­a­monds high­light­ing a fash­ion sketch by Car­o­line Chartouni.

One of Car­o­line Chartouni’s early Spec­trum Award win­ners is this pair of ear­rings in rose quartz, 18-karat rose gold and di­a­monds.

A fash­ion sketch by Car­o­line Chartouni with her award-win­ning ear­rings in 18-karat white gold fea­tur­ing Paraiba tour­ma­lines, di­a­monds and emer­alds.

The 18-karat rose gold ring fea­tures rubel­lites and di­a­monds.

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