Costantino Papadimitriou, the head of design and innovation at Forevermark—a De Beers brand—was in Mumbai recently for the launch of its latest collection, Millemoi. With a career spanning marketing, advertising and design, Milan, Italy-based Papadimitriou has been with the De Beers Group for eight years. He talked to Lounge about diamonds and design. Edited excerpts:
How did you get into design?
I actually started making jewellery when I was 14. My grandfather was a surgeon, and making jewellery was his hobby. I started polishing semi-precious stones, and from the ages of 14-18, I played around with making jewellery in the lab downstairs. I started buying jewellery when I was 16. So I really love jewellery. When I worked at JWT, though, I was working mostly on innovation; I was working with companies like Unilever. I was working on designing things like toothbrushes and boxes, so I’ve always been involved with the design aspect of things, but in different industries.
What does your role at Forevermark involve?
I work with a team of people who come from very different backgrounds—some in jewellery design, some in the fine arts. I have a different process—I believe in the project. There are people who create beautiful jewellery and then there is what we do. There is a method behind what we do. To get to Millemoi, there’s an intellectual process. It’s about trying to make that piece of jewellery tell a story. I work on the conceptualization of things and then I sit down with the designers and they bring it more to life.
What is the one piece of jewellery that really stands out for you?
It has to be the Queen’s jewellery, in the Tower of London, especially when you see the size of the diamonds and the carats of the crown jewels. The Kohinoor is just amazing. I am of Greek origin and I was in Berlin recently and had the chance to see some ancient Greek jewellery at the Pergamon Museum—and I was amazed at the workmanship and the beauty of the pieces. Fabergé items are outstanding too. I love some Indian jewellery pieces too especially when you can turn the piece over and see the enamel detail on the back.
What stands out the most about Indian jewellery?
As a diamond person, I’d love to talk more about diamonds, but the traditional Indian jewellery just has a beautiful mixture of colours—the reds, the greens and the yellows. That to me is just beautiful to look at—it is artwork.
What is so special about diamonds?
I am hypnotized by diamonds. For me, you can get lost looking at diamonds. Just moving a diamond around, there’s always a different colour, a different light. I don’t get that from emeralds and rubies.
How did the Millemoi collection come about?
We were talking about how to celebrate women. Women do so much—there’s the house and career and school. One of my designers said, “Let’s give them all a diamond, a diamond for every reason.” We can’t do that because in the various markets there are financial restrictions, and India is lucky to be able to enjoy so much jewellery, whereas other regions don’t do that. So how do we get to celebrate many things in a different way? That’s where the idea of the hoops started coming in—it is always in fashion, and each one could be a different colour and they could then attach different meanings to it, so let’s give them a way to tell their own stories.