He is the 15th-generation Mellerio destined to take the helm of the 400-year-old diamond jewelry business—and already, he is catapulting it into the future of jewelry. Meet Côme Mellerio.
When asked about stunning diamond jewelry, most young men would share memories of their mother wearing family heirloom pieces on special occasions. But Côme Mellerio (26 years old) can picture Laure-Isabelle, creating them.
“As a child, I was intrigued by the old-cut diamond solitaire set in Onyx and caged with a thin gold line, that she is still wearing nowadays. It was a made-to-measure push present for my birth that she had designed herself. And of course, my father, Laurent, being a Mellerio, had it made in the house’s onsite workshop, ” says Côme. “As a trained interior designer, my mom loved sketching all sorts of special occasion jewelry items, from engagement rings to a gold bracelet bearing my father’s and all of her sons’ names.That’s how she became, later, the maison’s artistic director.”
Not only was Côme born into the oldest family of jewelers in France and the world at large, but the eldest of four brothers in line to take over the storied jewelry house. French with paternal Italian ancestry, it’s easy to see from where Côme inherited his juvenile charm; according to the legend, at the tender age of 13, Jean-Baptiste, Côme’s peddler forefather from Lombardia, drew Queen Marie Antoinette’s attention when he exhibited his trinkets and jewelry just outside of the gates of the Palace of Versailles.
The fruitful relationship that ensued with French, European and world royalty has sustained the Mellerio business throughout centuries, weathering revolutions, wars and the rise and fall of empires and republics alike.
Côme Mellerio’s Daring and Not-So-Humble Beginnings
Attractive, athletic, blond-haired and blue-eyed, Côme could have easily had a go at a male modeling career, or kept his position at Ernest & Young, the financial firm where he worked straight out of business school, after a six month academic exchange in Hong Kong and one year stay the University of California at Santa Barbara. “I was planning on honing my business management skills in a couple of companies, maybe starting my own before considering working for Mellerio,” Côme says. “But when my father, Mellerio’s then-President and Managing Director fell gravely ill, I immediately came to my mother’s help to run the company.”
Côme’s father sadly passed away two weeks later in October 2018, giving Côme no choice but to hit the ground running. Luckily, his training in the “new world’s” entrepreneurship style (think: leading adventurously and open-mindedly) and sense of family had already prepared him to follow suit: Côme, partnering with Laure-Isabelle, wholeheartedly took charge of the commercial, marketing and digital development of Mellerio dits Meller. “My father was in love with Mellerio. Since I was a child, I understood the pride that the family took in running it, generation after generation,” says Côme. “If you asked me what’s left of my Italian roots, they’re right there! My mom, Mellerio’s first ever female artistic director, is the typical matriarch, a ‘mamma’ whose authority we respect and admire.
“We don’t always see eye to eye, but it always feels like a creative game of ping pong—a positive challenge with her. We argue sometimes about our lines; I often feel like pitching in creatively and she will put me in my place… But we always agree on ‘What good it is for? The company.’ I grew up with my brothers constantly hearing conversations about jewelry: my parents discussing their ideas in front of us and with us. I always projected taking part in the writing of the next chapters of Mellerio’s legacy.”
And this is exactly what the young man has set up to do from a full-time “apprenticeship” that involved regularly visiting the archives where more than 100,000 sketches and gouaches are carefully kept to supervising the purchases of stones to meeting with customers to observing Mellerio’s craftsmen creating the jewelry in the workshop and taking charge of the social media to better project their brand values. “Every day, from 8.00 a.m. to 8.00 pm, I’m learning on the job, with our incredible staff,” Côme says. His favorite part? Launching a new collection, like the upcoming Giardino, which highlights twelve styles made from combinations of semi-precious and precious stones, including—of course—natural diamonds; each design is inspired by Mellerio’s archives. “In the Italian Renaissance style, dear to our heart,” Côme explains.
However, Côme’s take is really a refreshed, more contemporary version.
“Items meant for easy, everyday wear,” he says. So the epitome of “confidential luxury” and Old World’s expertise in Haute Joaillerie designed for high society is now embracing millennials’ expectations of head on and is setting itself up to export its signature bespoke jewelry worldwide.
“My friends love that our collections are rooted in our history, and how we revisit archive pieces to create modern, brand new items. They say that they feel like buying Mellerio jewelry is buying a piece of French and Italian history. This is how we would like all of international customers—online and in-person—to feel as well.”
Renowned for its choice of premium gemstones and creative mountings, Mellerio was implementing upcycling long before it was a buzzword and sustainable practice had become a staple of eco-minded luxury. “We’ve been mounting family-owned stones passed on from generations on engagement rings for centuries. If my friends bought their very special occasion ring elsewhere, I would seriously question our friendship,” Côme jokes.
“Mellerio is my passion,” he adds. “I honestly don’t look at the time when I’m working. And with the COVID crisis, my social life is not exactly booming. I miss it as much as everybody, but on the upside, I can fully concentrate on Mellerio’s future.” To Côme that means tailoring confidential luxury based on authenticity, trust and word of mouth for young and international digital crowds. “We are designing timeless and accessible jewelry for girls my age. I can’t see anything cooler than that.” And frankly, neither can we.