In theory, bespoke luxury collections find their way into the hands of quiet consumers and collectors. In practice, jewelry designer Ralph Lataillade will tell you the system of quiet referrals and private sales remain the cornerstone of their business transactions. Raised in Haiti and mentored by European-educated jewelers there, he’s a proud graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology. “(In Haiti), I spent time with them learning quite a bit about jewelry making from A to Z. After graduating from FIT, I was hired by the famed New York jewelry designer Micha Bondanza with whom I worked for 17 years. I consider myself very lucky to have been exposed to very diverse sources of knowledge and experience.” Lataillade started his own line when he was still working full time. “Every waking moment was spent designing and making models in metal and wax. The challenge was to convert ideas and designs into full-fledge jewelry line in gold and platinum, my metals of choice.” These days, with a full line, Lataillade describes his jewelry as designed for all occasions, from casual chic to a night at the opera, from stud earring for activity to sophisticated earrings and necklaces for formal events. To market his line, he leverages social media presence with the existing system of referrals. “Social media is almost indispensable nowadays to promote your jewelry or anything fashion related. One has to use marketing in all its forms relentlessly to keep a presence and great photographs of your art really goes a long way. Visibility and reaching customers is the key to success. The other important factor is that social media allows you curtail your marketing expenses and reach people/potential buyers outside of the industry crowd.” Lataillade, like his peers, designs jewelry to make customers feel unique and empowered, but as nearly half of his orders are custom, bespoke designs, he matches colors, textures, and styles to dresses and attire for casual and formal events. “I work hard to create beautiful jewelry that is always functional and unique, and that stands apart from the crowd. My inspiration for my designs comes from multiple sources. I love architecture, modern and classic, Gothic, residential or structural, bridges, overpasses. I also love and get inspired by mother nature, ancient cultures, old mail boxes, metal grates, and everything else under the sun. Sometimes the color and shape of a stone will trigger a design and a flood of ideas. Being creative is a portal into another world and the hard part is to convey your ideas and designs to appeal to your customers.”
The best thing about his job? “There is nothing more satisfying than the look of joy and happiness on a client’s face,” he says.