10 minutes with CEO of Piaget, Philippe Léopold-Metzger

Sizzling side up

Text: Celine Yap

In Singapore to launch the complete range of Piaget’s Sunny Side of Life high jewellery collection, Léopold-Metzger shares his zeal for the tropics and love for beautiful stones

Believe it or not: The diabolical heat that we have been plotting the death of these past few days, some people have travelled hundreds of miles in search of. In Singapore, Piaget found the ideal location to showcase its latest high jewellery collection, the very aptly named Sunny Side of Life.

This may not be the first time the world has seen the pieces, but it is the first time the collection has been exhibited on such a grand scale-no fewer than 160 high jewellery pieces convened at The Clifford Pier, which was turned into a dazzling scene redolent of the Old Hollywood glamour indigenous to Palm Springs, California. Think verdant palm trees, shimmering blue swimming pools, and hot pink flamingos.

Piaget Sunny Side of Life collection

CEO of Piaget, Philippe Léopold-Metzger, invited 150 VVIPs from all over the world for this grand preview of the collection, and of course to enjoy the sunny side of life-make that the sizzling side of life-in our tropical city.

Please tell us what drew Piaget to Palm Springs as the source of inspiration?
In the history of Piaget, from the time of Yves Piaget, there's been a connection to Palm Springs. Mr Piaget spent a lot of time there. There were a lot of polo games and he was very friendly with Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, who were very often in Palm Springs. True, we could have thought about Ibiza or Monte Carlo for Sunny Side of Life, but essentially we wanted it to be rooted in a place where people go to have a good time.

What would you highlight about this collection?
For people who are more interested in our classical pieces, I would suggest the cuff bracelets because historically they have always been our strong suit. Pay special attention to the palace goldsmithing technique, which is very characteristic of Piaget. Then there's the feather marquetry pieces that are very unique. We have also done a number of secret watches and finally the transformable pieces, in particular, the necklace with seven cushion-cut emeralds that can convert into a bracelet and pendant.

Piaget Sunny Side of Life collection

How did the idea to incorporate métiers d'arts into high jewellery come to you?
We brought in feather marquetry as well as flinqué enamel but really this is just the beginning. In future collections, you will see more examples of Métiers d'Art. They're so beautiful I think it's just logical to combine them with high jewellery.

How do you put a price tag on a high jewellery piece that features métiers d'arts?
When you look at the artisan working on the feathers, for example, you see that it is excruciating work, so it will understandably be expensive. People with unique skills know their value. But it is also obvious that these pieces will be acquired out of instinct. It's not so much about logic.

How did you come to work with Nelly Saunier?
We've been very lucky to have met her. She'd already worked with many product categories but not jewellery. It's always nice for an artisan to work with a company that is creative and that gives you the autonomy to work on your own. She worked very closely with our designers because it's not like we just come up with something and have her executive the pieces. There was a lot of interaction.

Piaget Sunny Side of Life collection

There are a number of large coloured stones in the collection. What's Piaget's criteria in selecting and working with such precious gems?
Over the last 24 months we have been buying large stones. Our gemologists go for the best. We just have to see whether we can afford it or not. We've bought some extremely large stones, some of them are not yet shown, but the future is clear. We are going to move in that direction. Also, there are a lot of stones that are unmounted, that clients can see because very often, customers see a jewellery piece, like the design, but lament that the stone is too small. So we want to be able to offer them either a bigger stone or a different stone. We have a lot of flexibility in terms of client orders or modifying pieces.

So the usage of large stones is recent?
Yes. Some brands buy stones and design the pieces. We may do it, but we tend to take the creative route and come up with a design then look for the stones. But it depends. For example, we recently bought one large exceptional stone, so we're going to design around the stone. Many of our clients care deeply about the investment value of the jewellery pieces, so we work to preserve it but all the while remaining creative.