Influential Woman Autumn 2020
“Return to Exclusivity”.
Raluca Simu, Founder & Creative Director, Henri Maillardet
We believe that the best of what the world has to offer through any generation is perpetual – the immortality of values makes for a combination of unique artistic outlook and a layer of innovative execution that promotes awe-worthy creation, giving it the spotlight it deserves.
Our Return to Exclusivity is not just the perpetual value we aim to look after. Being one of a kind is merely a sine qua non condition for any work of art, and not the sum of its consisting criteria.
We believe that an umbrella of art meeting luxury lifestyle is what best describes us. The mysticism of past values along with modern interpretations and surrealist twists in the process of creation allow us to come up with an unmatched series of pieces of art (being it jewellery, watches or pure art).
“The Henri Maillardet brand emerged as a celebration of the exclusivity in art and luxury lifestyle pursuits, revealing authentic values transcending time and temporary fashion.
We aim to bring together, through our brand values, people who are committed to making aesthetics their lifestyle”.
Henri Maillardet by Raluca Simu
I was born in Bucharest in a tougher time for the city, under the communist regime. Despite the political environment, I had a wonderful childhood alongside my sister and 6 cousins: I am still amazed to this day of the patience of my beloved grandmother who acted as our “nanny” while all our parents were working.
In those times, there were not iphones, ipads, Instagram or other distractions, so luckily I spent my time reading, doing sports, studying or playing with other kids. We interacted live, not via phone games. I liked to study, I was a kind of a “nerd” :), thus I was best in my class throughout the years, culminating with the Romanian – Canadian MBA program (organised by the Academy of Economic Studies of Bucharest, Ecole des Hautes Etudes de Montreal and University of Ottawa), which I graduated summa cum laude, as the cohort leader. This helped me secure a good job at ABN AMRO Bank.
Later I started my entrepreneurial life and I think this was a good choice given my energy and passion for work, as well as my creative side: it is always a fortune to be able to put in practice your own ideas and to see things developing as you imagined them. In my private life I was blessed with 3 beautiful and extremely smart kids (one daughter and two sons) who are my light. They are a lot of work, but I can do it all, despite sometimes being exasperated and tired: it’s part of our women’s life and I think only a lady can joggle business, kids, family, while also taking care of herself. I admit I am quite vane and I like to be in shape, exercise, present myself as good as I can, as this makes me happy. And I believe that if the lady of the house is happy, the whole family is happy.
Meet Raluca Simu
1. Raluca, tell us about yourself as a business owner..
I have started my career as a banker, working for ABN AMRO Bank and Millennium Bank for 8 years. All the time I have been involved in communication and advertising, following my MBA in Marketing.
As an entrepreneur I have an experience of over 12 years, and I believe it is the option which best suits me as I am kind of strong-willed and determined. I manage a full-service communication agency and a business in the luxury industry, being a distributor and retailer for all the big watches and jewellery groups – LVMH (Hublot, Tag, Zenith), Richemont (IWC), Swatch (Omega, Longines, Tissot), Breitling, Carl F. Bucherer, Damiani, Faberge, and many others. I am proud of my work and my team, we have also developed our own jewellery brands such as Maria Granacci, Eva Nobile, Carezze, Insieme (bridal), Dogma (men jewellery), Bambini Preziosi (kids jewellery).
I like to follow my own strategy and I need space to implement my decisions. I prefer to be on my own to create and develop my ideas, my brands. When you are employed you need to support and help build other people’s dreams, which is also great. It is just a matter of the way you are built and how you are more comfortable.
Because being an entrepreneur and “your own boss” does not mean that your employees will do all the work. Actually, I can say that a business owner is the one that works the most in any team, sometimes without weekends, breaks or holidays. But I like to work, so this is perfect for me.
2. What is the story behind ‘Henri Maillardet’
Henri Maillardet was a Swiss vanguard mechanician and artist of the 18th century, born in 1745 in a village close to Neuchatel. He worked mostly in London producing clocks and other mechanisms. He created several singing birds, automated animals (the caterpillar, the frog) or the automated writer – The Juvenile Artist (which you have probably seen in Mr. Scorsese’s movie – Hugo). Around 1800 Henri Maillardet built this extraordinary Automaton which had the largest “memory” of any such machine ever constructed in its own time, able to make four drawings and three poems (two in French and one in English).
So obviously when I came across such a rich heritage brand that needed to be brought again to the attention of the public, I did not hesitate. I am a strong believer in the energy and chemistry that need to exist in every aspect of our life (personal, professional, social) and in Henri Maillardet’s case I felt from the beginning that I can make a difference and really contribute to bringing it back to life.
Today, Henri Maillardet is an exclusive brand which offers beautiful jewellery, a sophisticated champagne and soon to also launch its first modern watch. The brand proposes to its customers a unique combination between the classical value of gems and high-end materials, the technology employed and the inspiration from art. We try to offer not objects, but undying pieces of art that will stand the test of time. Our slogan, “Return to Exclusivity”, is the very essence of the Henri Maillardet creations.
3. In your opinion, what are people looking for when they buy jewellery: design or brand?
There are cases and cases. For example, when you buy jewellery for a gift, you have different choosing criteria, than when you buy for yourself. Probably when you buy for a gift you consider things like budget, occasion, importance of the respective person in your life, etc. Whether it’s design or brand, for sure when we make a gift we want the other persons to know that we thought about them, that we considered their style and what they might like and suit them, etc.
When they buy jewellery for themselves I think most people (and especially ladies) look for something to identify with: either the jewellery piece needs to tell the world something about them (for example, about their status – case in which they probably go for the brand), or they want the jewellery to tell themselves something (for example the jewellery may be a symbol of a certain feeling, emotion, occasion, etc – case in which they need to feel the energy and meanings of that particular piece, they need to have a connection with the jewellery so that they can relive and feel the special situation represented by the respective jewellery).
Each person and client are unique, and this is the beauty of it.
4. Which are the ‘Henri Maillardet’ favourites?
We have recently launched (during the Zurich Film Festival 16th Edition, where we have been the Jewellery Partner and next year we will be the Jewellery and Champagne Main Partner) our latest Möbius Collection, a collection of which I am particular proud and fond of, as it represents the culmination of one year work: exactly one year ago, in October, I had the vision of this new collection full of so many meanings.
Möbius is an elegant and modern jewellery collection, a special eye-catcher, inspired by the symbol of the Möbius ribbon and which I launched under the motto “Two shall become one”. The fascinating properties of the Möbius ribbon – its one-sidedness and one-edginess – have unsurprisingly resulted in associating its shape with symbolic meanings.
For example, when we look at the Möbius bracelet, the best seller of our collection, we have the impression it has two surfaces (interior and exterior), but actually there is only one: if you start your voyage on one side of your Möbius jewellery, you will end up in the same place, after covering both sides of it, inside and outside, without moving your finger from one side to the other! The same happens if you trace the edge, you will cover the full edge without moving from one side to the other. This means there is only one surface and only one edge. People don’t really realise these amazing properties when I talk about them, until they do the exercise themselves. And aren’t they surprised when they understand and experience it directly!
This is why the Möbius ribbon is connected with the concept of infinity, due to its infinite uninterrupted paths one can trace along its single surface and its single edge! Therefore, the Möbius ribbon is associated with unity and non-duality: two sides and two edges are joined and become one side and one edge. Because of this symbolism of infinity and unity, more and more couples opt for Möbius ribbon-shaped wedding rings.
On a similar note, some consider the Möbius ribbon to be a fitting symbol for the relationship of space and time in the Universe – they appear to be separate, like the two apparent sides of the Möbius, but there actually is no separation: space and time are not distinct and together form our Universe. The collection consists of beautiful earrings, bracelets and Möbius necklaces made of 18K gold, also available with diamonds. The Möbius bracelets are best worn in pairs, by your loved one and you.
5. Why did you decide to open a shop in Zurich?
I have been living in Zurich for almost 5 years now, while managing and supervising my other businesses from here, so for a person as active as I am, it was only the natural step to build something locally, because I was missing the daily interaction with the customers.
I love the city, its people, the way everything is organised to the tiniest details (as I am!). I think it is one of the best cities to raise your kids (and I have 3!), so I want to build something in this city that offers so much to its people and to give back something from myself.
My concept space is like an ultimate location for people in search of beautiful artworks, beautiful jewellery and beautiful ideas. It is important to have a space where everyone can come and see the pieces I create or the artworks I curate, or to exchange views and thoughts, over a coffee or glass of our champagne. In everything that there is here, you will find a part of me and having this space is the best ambassador to present what I would like to offer to our customers.
Henri Maillardet Jewellery
Henri Maillardet Jewellery
The Möbius Diamond Full Pavé Round Bracelet in 18K rosé gold displays a total of 324 diamonds, outside and inside! This stunning is the sublime expression of the “Two shall become one” concept which defines the Möbius ribbon properties, showing both its one-sidedness and one-edginess.
78 is the number of pieces of the present Möbius collection, all variations of gold colours, sizes, categories. You can play endlessly with this amazing pieces while showing your love for your true one.
We believe that Surrealism is the art of the Elite.
Like people, artworks need a nourishing environment to flourish to their true potential. We offer that for the most authentic paintings we come across. We seek the Beauty of meanings, the Beauty of profound thoughts and intense humane feelings, the vision we bring to the world and the majestic materialization of our deepest thoughts.
Free associations and uncommon juxtapositions inspire us, especially when they carry the weight of archetypal values that we inherit generation after generation. Our creative energy is limitless, when surrounded by timeless quality, such as the one of the artists we feature in our Art Society.
6. What is the ‘Henri Maillardet’ Art Society?
HENRI MAILLARDET Art Society is the art division of Henri Maillardet and its purpose is to support talented artists, allowing them to grow by providing a top platform to present their art, as well as to facilitate the dissemination of art to the general public by providing additional solutions to the customary purchase of art: renting, leasing or long term financing.
HENRI MAILLARDET Art Society combines my expertise in exclusive jewellery and watches with the passion for art and brings a new “Art meets Luxury” concept on the market. It promotes modern and contemporary artists in a beautiful environment, while contributing to the artistic and intellectual lifestyle.
I believe successful people in today’s world have a great interest in art and in one of a kind objects (like jewellery and watches). They seek power, recognition and respect. They want a place where they can meet other people alike. They like an environment to which to identify themselves, a place where to drink a perfect coffee or a glass of the Henri Maillardet exquisite champagne, free of any pressure. Just enjoy and relax…
7. A place in Europe where you find paradise..
I am very fond of Italy and especially the Tuscany region. For me this is paradise and maybe at some point I will spend my time at an “azienda agricola”, making wine and olive oil… I love to cook so why not opening a small ristorante? I have many ideas that might sound crazy, but then, this is how you expect to be in paradise!
8. And your secret retreat in Switzerland..
I think Switzerland has so many places for different tastes and offers so many choices – mountains, lakes, beautiful villages, amazing people. I like to go to St. Moritz and Gstaad in wintertime, or Montreux during the Jazz Festival. More recently I have discovered a beautiful place in Vitznau on the shores of Lake Lucerne: at the Park Hotel the view and food are amazing. I was there before the pandemic, since May 2020, they run the place in the style of a private guest house, with the aim of offering hotel guests and friends of the house a stay that promises a lot of privacy, exclusivity and discretion.
9. What magazines and websites inspire you?
I like BusinessOfFashion.com and Vogue.com for business and fashion information. The inspiration for my collections comes from the places I visit, things I live, foods I taste, so only from my own experience. I recently visited Florence and came back with a bag full of ideas for my next collection… I believe the world and our life are full of inspiring things, we just need to look and have an open eye for being able to see.
10. And finally Raluca, what item identifies you..
Since I created the Möbius collection, I am always wearing the beautiful Möbius Full Pavé bracelet. I love the way the line of diamonds follows the Möbius bracelet outside and inside – I think it’s the only jewellery item to have diamonds also on the inside, aimed to prove the Möbius concept. It represents love and eternity, or for a romantic like myself, the fact that love is eternal.