Passing the Torch

Third-generation CEO Elie Bernheim continues Raymond Weil’s tradition of excellence.


Did you know from a young age that you wanted to be involved in the family business?
My father always reminds me that I was 10 years old when I came to him after a long trip, and I asked, “Okay, what’s going on with our Swedish distributor? I remember you told me that you had some financial issues…” He was thinking “Oh my, my son is too young for that kind of thing,” but I always knew that one day I would join the company. I took my first position when I was 25, as a salesman in the German market. We had a car and we took our sales rack from store to store for weeks at a time.

When did you receive your first watch?
It was a gift from my father. I was probably seven years old and at the time this watch was a big hit. I recently wore the first watch my grandfather bought for me in 1992. It’s a Parsifal which has been in the collection for more than 20 years. We have a family museum and I probably have between one and three pieces of each reference in house. It’s nice to get some inspiration from what my grandfather created.

What is it like to follow in his footsteps, and now to work alongside your father and brother?
My brother Pierre is in charge of our second company, 88 Rue du Rhone, which we launched two years ago. His office is right near mine and we see each other all the time, but it was important for each of us to have our own responsibilities.

My father has not officially retired. He still comes into the office for several hours a day, but he’s a happy man now. He’s enjoying being a grandfather and spending time with my children. At the same he still oversees our Asian markets and is a fantastic advisor when I need his support. It is a privilege to work with him.

Bernheim’s current favorite is Raymond Weil’s Toccata timepiece.

As the youngest CEO of a Geneva-based watch brand, how do you think your fresh perspective can be an advantage?
Being the youngest is great, but being surrounded by a strong team is more important. There will always be people who say “You’re too young.” But I have big ambition and a vision for the brand, and I’m sure that our customers can feel that passion. Hopefully it will get them excited too. Being young is also a good thing when it comes to the hectic travel schedule this job requires. It’s important for me to meet all our retail and supply partners to show them how much we appreciate them and how much I need their support. Showing that we are behind them and we are doing everything we can to support them is the most important part of my job today.

What legacy do you hope to leave behind?
There is a French proverb that says the first generation builds the company, the second expands the company and the third (most of the time) destroys what the first two generations have built. I’m just hoping everyday that I will not be an example of this, that my team and I will bring Raymond Weil to a higher level. If I put this pressure on myself it is only because I see a huge potential for our brand to grow around the world, particularly in the States. This is my plan for the future.

My children are three and one so it’s too early to tell if they will develop an interest, but I definitely hope to keep Raymond Weil as a family business. It’s tradition. It’s a privilege for a father to work with his children, and if I could do that I would be so happy.

A Feast for the Eyes

Help yourself to jewels in every color.


Jewelry fashion this season is about fun—pieces that make you smile. “While white diamonds and neutral precious stones will forever be Hollywood favorites,” says Ginnina D’Orazio, “all the colored gems being used right now in designer jewelry are making a lasting impact on the red carpet.” And she would certainly know: for more than a decade, celebrities and their stylists have made D’Orazio & Associates, a private showroom in Beverly Hills, a must-stop destination. When stars like Halle Berry, Jennifer Lopez, Angelina Jolie and Amy Adams appear at awards shows, movie premieres and film festivals, many of the dazzling jewelry designs they wear are on loan through the showroom.

Amrapali Nine Sunflower Navrata floral ear cuffs in 18K yellow gold

MULTICOLOR BRILLIANCE:  With inside access to Hollywood’s A-listers, D’Orazio can confirm that fanciful multicolor mixes are a key fashion direction this year. Think of words like rainbow, graffiti and kaleidoscope—anything that invokes images of joyful, juicy color combinations. Such upbeat jewelry with prismatic palettes happens to be right in step with fashion’s painterly styles, too. Elie Saab and Giambattista Valli, for example, both presented 2015 resort collections brilliantly awash in artistic multi-hued fabrics that look like studies in Impressionism. In the trending jewelry look, all of sapphire’s fancy shades— pink, orange, purple, green, red—are particularly popular, as are mixes of three (or more) natural colored diamonds.

Amrapali cuff with rubies and diamonds

RED ALERT: One thing to try this season is mixing your multicolor jewelry with singlecolor gem pieces, especially red stones. Alongside that colorful rose-cut stone bracelet, for example, add a new red gem stack to create fashionable arm candy. “We’ve had a lot of celebrities select jewelry with spinel and rhodolite garnet,” notes D’Orazio. “These semi-precious stones give you brilliant red color that makes a statement, but with an affordable price tag.”

Nonetheless, two of the precious reds—ruby and fancy red sapphire— are surely worth the price. Favorites this year in have been slightly edgy designs with crimson-hued stones set in darkened gold or blackened silver. For many red gem beauties, inspiration began in February in Tucson, Arizona at the annual AGTA GemFair Tucson, the world’s most important annual marketplace for natural colored gemstones and cultured pearls. Robyn Hawk, gem cutter, mineral expert and self-proclaimed “serial blogger”—one of her eight blogs is devoted to Tucson’s prestigious gem show—says, “The desert was resplendent in vibrant jewel tones: fuchsia spinel, fanta orange spessartite garnet, the ruby-like scarlet of rubellite tourmaline, vivid lime-green peridot, and the languid purply-blue of tanzanite.”

Sutra Jewels 18K black gold opal Marquee ring

OPALS & DRUZIES & DOUBLETS, OH MY! “The big story was opal,” Hawk continues. “If you want your style to be ontrend this year, opal jewelry is a must-have. Some Boulder opals exhibit a beautiful pattern that brings to mind the great abstract painters. And Ethiopian opal is awe-inspiring; remember Cate Blanchett’s Chopard opal earrings at the Academy Awards?” Luckily, since opal was one of Tucson’s strongest selling gems, you’ll have many types and colors to choose from this year (including black opal, white opal and crystal opal).

Talking about other on-trend gems, Hawk suggests “when you’re feeling extra-arty and daring, be sure to layer on something with druzy. One thing’s for sure: No one else will be wearing it because every druzy quartz is a one-of-a-kind wonder.” Hawk says the gem show was filled with brilliant hues, “even metallic drusies, which are gleaming varieties coated with a film of gold, platinum, sterling silver or copper. And they were hot, hot, hot!”

Stephen Webster Crystal Haze earrings in 18K rose gold from the Lady Stardust collection, featuring doublet with pink opal and white diamonds

FUN FASHION CHOICES: For the most fashion-forward looks, whether you’re wearing drusy, doublets, opal, red gems, or multicolor designs, there are three words to remember this season: layer, layer, layer! Many luxe new necklaces feature varying shapes of colored gems on a single elongated chain. And for bracelets, odd numbered stacks are most on-trend in thin and very thin gauges. Mixing and matching super-slim bangles from different brands is best, as it gives a uniquely customized look for the wrist without having to design custom pieces. Of course, when it comes to the ultimate in high-end hip this year, it’s often about the ears and hands. Ear cuffs clip onto the top of your ear, while ear climbers—aka “ear vines”—sparkle upward from the lobe, at once edgy and elegant.

For beautifully adorned hands, 2014 style is about everything from dramatic one-finger elongated knuckle rings worn on any finger… to delicate midi rings that sit between the fingernail and knuckle… to multifinger rings that adventurously stretch over two or three fingers… to hand jewelry with sparkling chains and stones draped from finger to wrist.

Yes, this is a happy time for jewelry, so have fun this fall!

Simply Modern

Jewelry’s new sophisticated simplicity.


Ivanka Trump Metropolis necklace in 18K yellow gold with diamonds

As the warm-weather seasons begin, jewelry and fashion have both entered into a nouveau modern era. In two words: sleek and uncomplicated. Still glamorous? Definitely—but more panache with purity, if you will. When models strutted down the spring/summer runways wearing peek-a-boo sheers and cut-out mesh (and even see-through skirts) they looked sensual, but seldom overly sexy.

“In fashion, there’s a distinct modernization going on, as designers are beginning to rethink luxury,” explains David Wolfe, creative director of international fabric, color and style forecasting agency The Doneger Group in New York City. “It’s super-simplicity—kind of no-fashion fashion. Yet there’s a lot of cutting-edge creativity. For example, clean-cut sharp angles—what I’m calling geometrickery!”

What does this mean in terms of jewelry accessorizing? “It’s the minimalist ’90s back in fashion. But not the stark minimal ’90s, when everything was spare—as in no accessories and no jewelry,” explains Vicente Agor, president of the Contemporary Jewelry Design Group. “This time around, sleek apparel is the backdrop for jewelry. That’s key to what makes it now—completely 2014,” he says. “The clean lines of the clothes actually let the jewelry stand out. If you wear something exactly as it was styled in its original decade, then it’s a costume! So it’s very important to pair the new austere-shaded, streamlined clothes with jewelry. Otherwise, you’ll look out-of-date—very yesterday.”


The first thing to remember when wearing the season’s refined, unfussy clothes is to think big: jewelry with impact is a megatrend. And you can do that either by wearing large statement pieces or by layering several for a strong jewelry look. With luxury brands, top-trending categories include knuckle rings and cocktail rings, power pendants and lengthy necklaces, long dangle earrings—especially triple-stone drops—and slim bracelets worn in multiples—three minimum, but mostly five—stacked up the arm.

“Geometric and sculptural pieces are very important now,” notes Agor, “and jewelry looks very fresh when it’s large in scale.” Nonetheless, says Wolfe, “Because there are many important silhouettes going on simultaneously this season, sometimes dramatic designs are needed while, at other times, what you wear may call for smaller, slimmer items of jewelry worn together for an overall uber effect.”


Roberto Coin single-row Pois Moi bracelets in high-polished 18K rose, white and yellow gold

Still, whether the jewels you wear this spring and summer are singularly super-sized or merely appear large when layered, the precious metal itself is a key consideration. To some degree, all the high-gloss futuristic fabrics are a factor. “We’re currently experiencing a fascination with unnatural-looking textiles. Metallic is being worn year-round, not just during the holiday period,” Wolfe says. “All shades of metallic—blue, pink, green—a rich rainbow. But my favorites are the darker muted gold metallics; I call them golden glamour. They’re very complementary to the new jewelry we’re seeing in yellow, rose and darkened rhodium-plated gold, and these mix fabulously with white gold and sterling silver that’s oxidized to look gray or black.”


Speaking of black, like last year, it’s the non-color that’s still going strong. “Lots of sparkling white, too,” Wolfe reminds us. “Remember, white is now worn year-round. I especially like all the black-and-white clothes because it’s a color combo that gives you a lot of freedom with jewelry and other accessories. Beyond black and white, color runs the gamut, from bold and bright to darks to mellow yellow, neutral, and nude. And I love that very sophisticated combination of navy and black, which many major fashion houses have given us. Although this year, you’ll see all shades of blue—light, medium, and dark navy—straight into fall and through the winter. And more monochromatic schemes of mid-tone blues, too.”

Penny Preville earrings in 18K yellow gold with moonstone cabochons and organic aquamarine
organic aquamarine bottom drops

Fine jewelry has, in fact, led the way when it comes to blues, says lapidary artist and veteran gem dealer Bill Gangi, who sells high-quality colored stones to many leading names in luxury artisanal jewelry. “It’s the number-one gem color every year,” he says. But in the 2014 Spectrum Awards (the annual premier competition for colored gemstone jewelry design sponsored by the American Gem Trade Association), there were notably more indigo, azure and cobalt-colored jewelry entries than in the 2013 contest. Tanzanite, blue sapphire, lapis-lazuli and aquamarine were hard-to-miss standouts—way more popular than in the previous year. You definitely want your jeweler to show you some new designs that highlight any (or all!) of those blue beauties. Other in-vogue blues are iolite, black opal, blue moonstone, labradorite, turquoise, blue chalcedony, blue topaz and blue zircon.

“A great color combination is blue with purple,” Wolfe recommends. “In fashion, purple’s been hot for the past four seasons.” Given that the Pantone Color Institute named Radiant Orchid as its 2014 Color of the Year, you can bet that purple passion will continue to heat up throughout the year. “It’s a modern and surprisingly versatile shade,” says Pantone’s executive director, Leatrice Eiseman. (Take note: There’s that word modern again!)

Eiseman adds that Radiant Orchid is “a captivating, magical, enigmatic purple, inspiring confidence and emanating great joy, love and health. And it encourages expanded creativity and originality.” Looking at the breadth of imaginative new collections from goldsmiths inspired by a spectrum of violet, lavender and eggplant shaded stones—amethyst, alexandrite, sugilite, purple sapphire, kunzite, tourmaline, agate, quartz and lavender spinel—we can’t help but agree!

On a final note, it’s hardly coincidental that the Pantone Color of the Year is named after a beautiful, delicate flower. Remember, we’re enjoying an uncluttered, easy-to understand style era right now, one that’s often characterized by natural influences as well as geometrics. Think about it: Both nature and geometry are minimalist at their core. Going forward, well beyond 2014, forecasters are predicting that organic-themed collections will continue to grow, as women (like us!) are captivated by the perfection of the imperfection of asymmetric gemstones. Raw diamonds, baroque pearls, sliced precious and semiprecious color. . . each gem is one-of-a-kind from nature and completely sophisticated in its simplicity!