Decades of Decadent Design, with Le Vian
A legacy brand embedded in family and tradition, Le Vian is renowned for its magnificent designs, colorful pieces, and consistent eye on the future. Ever-evolving, Pietra Communications caught up with designer and CEO, Eddie LeVian, to celebrate where the company has been, and learn about what is coming up next.
Le Vian is a family-owned jewelry company with a long history, having created over 100,000 designs. Can you speak about your history, and how being family-owned impacts everyday operations?
I was born into a centuries-old tradition of guarding jewels, with my ancestors being chosen in 1746 by Nadir-Shah when he conquered India, to guard the priceless gems he brought back, which included the Koh-i-Noor diamond, which is now part of the British Royal Crown Jewels at the Tower of London. Since then my family felt it had a mission to save the world’s most beautiful gems and diamonds, making them into beautiful jewelry that can be passed down through generations. The jewelry industry isn’t just about the inherent value of a diamond or gem, but about enhancing people’s lives, providing the potential of holding onto something precious from someone who is no longer with us. That’s what drives the Le Vian brand every day, in everything we do.
Reinvention is a big part of the business, how has Le Vian reinvented itself over the last few years? What is the next step in your reinvention process?
Exactly, and we have demonstrated our commitment to reinvention through our over 1 million copyrighted designs, 200 trademarks, and various patents, including a patent for jewelry with gradient gemstone patents for Ombre designs. Reinvention can also be demonstrated through our technological innovations, including geofencing marketing technology which targets Le Vian collectors within a specific mile radius of a store, sending them a pop-up digital impression on their phone. This is part of our efforts to work closely with independent stores to help generate foot traffic to brick-and-mortar stores. Obviously, with the pandemic, our technological innovations have moved online, and luckily we had already created an omnichannel luxury experience for collectors including Le Vian TV on Instagram with some shows enjoying a reach of one million. Meanwhile, SmartStores showcase our thousands of one-of-a-kind Le Vian pieces, and our virtual trunk shows have enjoyed elevated show-up rates and purchase rates from 50% several years ago to almost 100% today, with almost every customer purchasing as a result of a private appointment. At the height of the pandemic, we broke our own record for the most expensive item sold online, a $160,000 necklace. Our innovative tech collaboration with Signet is a huge part of Le Vian’s digital brand presence because by working closely together and sharing Le Vian’s digital expertise and experience, our close partnership has become an incubator of innovation.
Which one of your designs is/was the most meaningful for you to create? Can you tell us a bit about the story behind it, and about why?
Our most meaningful recent collection has been the launch of Sunny Yellow Diamonds®, which represents a bright future as we emerge from the pandemic. The theme of positivity has been the focus for this – a characteristic that shines like rays of the sun, lighting up our darkest hours. This celestial light in all its iterations – from the pastel warmth of a sunrise to the incandescent glow of a setting sun – is the inspiration behind this trend which spans the entire spectrum of colorful gems to symbolize positivity. ‘Positivity’ can be found in Sunny Yellow Diamonds®, which are certified natural fancy light yellow and fancy yellow diamonds that encapsulate the radiance of sunshine with sparkling cushion cuts that bring out the sunny colors of these natural diamonds, exuding positivity. This Positivity collection is also symbolized through sapphires, citrine, pastel sunrise gems, dramatic sunset jewel tones, and rainbow ombre.
Can you tell us a bit about your Chocolate Diamonds? How did the branding concept come about, and what do your customers look for when buying Chocolate Diamonds?
Chocolate Diamonds is Le Vian’s brand of natural fancy color brown diamonds which denote a superior quality and meet a rigorous set of quality and ethical standards. In 2000, Le Vian trademarked the name Chocolate Diamonds, tying it inextricably to the luxury and pleasure evoked by chocolate. Since then, the New York-based LeVian family has witnessed Le Vian Chocolate Diamonds become one of the most recognized and desirable jewelry brands across America. Today, Chocolate Diamonds is trademarked in 100 countries, spanning all five continents. The name Chocolate Diamonds was inspired by my good friend Bill Furman, who used to come and visit me every day after work and bring with him a batch of artisanal, homemade chocolates. Frequently he would talk about the special powers of chocolate, about its health benefits, and about how it is an aphrodisiac.
Over 80% of Chocolate Diamonds hail from Australia’s Argyle mine, famed for its world-class, prized pink diamonds, which closed in late 2020, only increasing their rarity.
In 2019, John King, GIA Chief Quality Officer, in a discussion about Le Vian Chocolate Diamonds, said, ” It would seem even at a point where Argyle may no longer be mining, that the groundwork has been laid, that the interest in a range of colored diamonds now exists, and certainly that for brown diamonds I think will sustain and probably only grow more.”
Le Vian Chocolate Diamonds have become a red carpet favorite, adorning celebrities including Jennifer Lopez, Madonna, and Rihanna. In 2020, Le Vian celebrated the 20th anniversary of Chocolate Diamonds and released the Chocolate Jubilee Ring.
Chocolate Diamonds are Le Vian’s proprietary brand of high-quality natural fancy color diamonds that are chosen for their rarity and rich chocolate color. The criteria for a diamond to be selected as a Le Vian Chocolate Diamond encompasses color, clarity, cut, and traceable sourcing.
Chocolate Diamonds are becoming increasingly rare. In the past year, no more than 100 Chocolate Diamonds of 1.5 carats or more have been unearthed. The Natural Color Diamond Association (NCDIA) has stated that: “The hue and saturation of a color diamond are the most important factors that determine the value and rarity of a natural diamond.” According to the Gemological Institute of America, just one in 10,000 diamonds displays fancy colour, making them far rarer than the highest qaulity white diamonds, defined as diamonds in the D-to-Z color range.
How is Le Vian working to expand to a young audience, the next generation of diamond and diamond jewelry buyers?
We have been investing heavily in our digital presence, establishing Le Vian TV on Instagram with great success, running digital trunk shows, offering an online virtual stylist, one-to-one private virtual viewings online and Smart Stores. We are also now officially on TikTok, having staged our catwalk trend forecast in Las Vegas, live on Facebook, Youtube, and for the first time TikTok.
We have also introduced specific styles for a younger audience who often appreciate colored gemstones for engagement rings. In their search for rare quality, unique yet long-lasting jewelry to symbolize their intention to marry, many couples are choosing fancy color diamonds and color gems to mark their engagement. In addition to our trademark Chocolate Diamonds®, we also have an exceptional range of pieces in red, green, peach morganite, and blue – inspired by the engagement rings chosen by Princess Diana and Kate Middleton.
Giving back is part of what Le Vian is about. Can you speak a bit about how the company gives back/donates to charity, and about how you engage with CSR?
Since last March, both my own and Le Vian’s priorities have focussed even more on philanthropy and diversity. These values have always been at the centre of our family business, which sees the power and beauty of coming together for a common cause. We are committed to giving back through educational, medical, and diamond industry charities and have a board mandate to donate 10% annually, but often go beyond this. The Rafa Foundation, which we set up in 2018 in memory of our beloved nephew, Rafael, who tragically passed from cancer, has expanded to support local community building, including assistance with rent and guidance counseling. In addition to this, we have expanded our medical scholarships for students, and have donated to the American Museum of Natural History – a sample of the earth’s newest gem discovery, the Peacock Aquaprase. I also believe it is crucial to help those in my personal network, often owners of successful businesses of their own, to set up their own charitable foundations, to help make their own giving more strategic and focussed, and so I encourage and help others to establish foundations of their own so they can regularly set aside funds to be allocated at certain points during the year. We are also a certified member of the Responsible Jewelry Council, which requires regular and intricate audits of all aspects of our business because at Le Vian we are fully committed to implementing and promoting ethical and sustainable practices in the diamond industry.
What word describes Le Vian best, and why?
Inclusive. As a family-run business, we want our team and all our collectors to feel like family, too. This is demonstrated in our commitment to diversity in the Le Vian team. Our employees range in age from 21 to 82 and they hail from the US, Europe, Asia, India, and the Middle East. Of 121 employees, 58 are men and 63 are women. This is crucial to provide us with fresh, diverse perspectives and ensures that everyone feels included. A number of our staff have worked with us for decades, sometimes including members of the same family, highlighting how we are truly a family business at heart. This past year especially has spotlighted the importance of love, positivity, and strength, which we can find most of all when we come together. The notions of inclusivity, diversity, and optimism are at the heart of our business and every piece of jewelry we create.
Your designs have been featured on many A-list celebrities. How would you say this has impacted your brand? Which celebrity would you love to see wearing your pieces, and to what evert, that hasn’t worn a piece yet?
We are very honored to have a loyal fanbase amongst A-List celebrities, including Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, and Lady Gaga. We don’t pay them to wear our jewelry, so when you see a celebrity wearing Le Vian, you know that they truly love and connect with the brand and that particular piece of jewelry. This is unique especially now in a world of advertising and Instagram influencing, you never know how authentic a celebrity’s endorsement is. A particularly magical moment was when Nobel Peace Prize nominee and human rights activist Amanda Nguyen wore Le Vian at the Oscars, showing how our luxury jewelry is associated with philanthropy and improving the world.
In your opinion, what does the future of the diamond industry look like for Le Vian and the trade as a whole?
You have touched on one of my favorite topics. At Le Vian, we are constantly focussed on the quality of what we do and part of that is constantly looking ahead with optimism because for us Le Vian is a family business and we always keep the long term in mind. So much so, that for the last 22 years, each year we forecast the trends for the year and we take an industry leadership role in doing that. On Aug 29 in Vegas this year, we held our first-ever live event since the pandemic, a fundraising catwalk with the target of raising $1m for our chosen charities, while we announced the 7 trends we believe will drive the jewelry industry in 2022.
It’s perhaps worth mentioning that in 2019, the last time the show was live, one waiter, a single dad at the event was so moved by Le Vian’s fundraising during the catwalk, that he made an impromptu request for the microphone and pledged $200 on the spot, which sparked an immediate standing ovation from the entire 500-strong audience – which for me was one of the most moving and exciting moments of my career in the family business. An article in the Daily Mail including a 1 minute video of that special moment is here, written by a journalist who was one of our guests in the room in Las Vegas.
That said, when it comes to forecasting the future, Le Vian has three methods of keeping its finger on the pulse of what jewelry is trending. With Le Vian being a favorite with Hollywood celebrities from Rihanna to J. Lo, Taylor Swift, and TikTok star Addison Rae, we watch the Le Vian style choices of celebrities closely. The company’s strong connection with its collectors, the LeVianistas, provide regular feedback, often via several thousand trunk shows held annually at 3200 authorized Le Vian retailer stores in over 30 cities across the US and several cities across the UK, as well as via hugely successful Le Vian TV shows. In addition, Le Vian enjoys close working relationships with top fashion editors who share their insights with Le Vian into the interplay between fashion and jewelry trends.
Below are the 7 trends we have identified for 2022 that are set to drive and inspire consumers to making jewelry purchases.
Positivity is a characteristic that shines like rays of sunshine, lighting up our darkest hours. This celestial light in all its iterations, from the pastel warmth of a sunrise to the incandescent glow of a setting sun, spans the entire spectrum of colorful gems to symbolize positivity. The gems, diamonds, and metals that express Positivity include Sunny Yellow Diamonds®, Honey Gold™, Sunny Yellow Sapphires™, and Cinnamon Citrine®.
In these unprecedented times, there remains but one constant: Love. Nothing captures this idea better than the heart, this trend’s shape of the year, which is the focal point of the Love Sonnets Heart of the Ocean jewelry line inspired by the timeless love story of the Titanic. Meanwhile, Le Vian’s Love icon of the year is the Elephant, harking back to the LeVian family’s private collection of jewelry treasures dating back to 1501 and the family’s appointment as guardians of the royal jewels of Persia in 1746.
If there is one lesson we have all learned this past year, it is Resilience. This virtue is expressed by platinum, a material unique in only becoming brighter and stronger with every wear.
Reminiscent of the beautiful Caribbean waters which mirror the depths of our emotions, Peacock Aquaprase™ is nature’s perfect expression of authenticity. Unique and exquisite, it is the earth’s newest gem, soon to be on permanent display at the American Museum of Natural History. Combining a semi-translucent blue-green hue, with a unique matrix of brown and white, each gem is 100% natural, genuine, and distinctive from the next.
Le Vian’s organic gem of the year, the pearl, symbolizes the pearls of wisdom we have collected during our recent experience of reflection and hope. Offered in Vanilla, Chocolate, and Strawberry flavors, Le Vian’s collection of pearls is reinvented with its stunning array of colors, turning this centuries-old jewel into a cutting-edge fashion trend.
Normal people are obsessed with chocolate; LeVianistas are obsessed with Chocolate Diamonds. Just one glimpse of this sumptuously rich yet increasingly rare diamond, as well as its sister gem the Chocolate Quartz, will transform you into the grown-up version of a kid in a candy store.
After more than a year of staying inside, there is no better time to make a bold fashion statement. From statement rings with striking wide bands, gladiator rings, and men’s stacking rings, hoops, huggies, necklaces, and more, Le Vian’s statement rings are versatile, expressive, and individual.
Are you working on any new collections or an aesthetic to tease our audience?
We have just launched our Sunny Yellow Diamonds®, which are all responsibly mined. Natural colour diamonds are in fact 10,000 times rarer than white diamonds. We challenged ourselves to bring another innovative collection of natural colored diamonds to a wide audience with the same beautiful quality and finish as our High Jewelry collection, but at an alluring and accessible price, in our mission to democratise the world of fancy-color diamonds. Some of the pieces included are solitaires, eternity bands, with matching necklaces and earrings, specially designed for everyday wear but still with intricately handcrafted settings.
What’s the best way to get a hold of you, for readers that want to learn more, or want to place an order?
You can find us online at www.levian.com, on Instagram @levian_jewelry where you can find our IGTV weekly, an online shop, and reels Also on TikTok @levianjewelry.
To learn more about Le Vian, check out their website https://www.levian.com/Index, and/or their Instagram @levian_jewelry.