Mexican-French jewellery designer Colette Steckel grew up in Paris and Mexico City, where she became fascinated by the geodes that her entrepreneur father would bring home, making jewellery out of their crystals which she’d string on to copper wire taken from the telephone cable. As a teenager she made and sold hair accessories from ribbons and Swarovski crystals, before moving on to jewellery made from gold and semi-precious stones such as tanzanite and apatite, all inspired by leaves.
Now based in LA but with every piece made in her atelier in Mexico City, Colette’s designs still take inspiration from the natural world. Her collections feature flowers, thorns, birds and butterflies, given a contemporary update with a slight edge, thanks to her use of black diamonds and black gold. Chokers, ear cuffs and handpieces are all designed with the strong, modern woman in mind.
With an enviable watch collection and a jewellery box full of antique treasures, Colette shares her most precious pieces.
Cartier Baignoire watch
This was a present from the love of my life, my husband Adrian, five years ago for our 15-year anniversary. We were in my favorite city in the world, Paris, having dinner at our favorite restaurant, Apicius. For dessert the dome was lifted, and to my surprise the plate did not have cake on it but instead this beautiful watch. I will remember that moment forever!
I’m big into watches, I have around 60 of them – a lot of Cartier, but also Audemars Piguet, Rolex… Cartier is a brand that I really adore. I see their watches as jewellery. I love this watch in particular because I have very tiny wrists and it covers the whole of it. The shape of it is just perfect.
It’s coming up to our 20th wedding anniversary and I know what I’m going to get – something that moves, a car. I said I also want something that will last forever that we can give to our children, so we’ll also get a little something that can be engraved.
Diamonds by the yard necklace
During World War II my great-grandmother and her family had to escape France for Mexico. They couldn’t take much with them, so they took as much gold and diamonds as they could carry. My great-grandmother filled up a little pouch with loose diamonds, which she later gave to my grandmother when she got married. She told her, hold this close to you because you never know when you might need them.
My grandmother never did anything with the diamonds but she and I were very close – she adored me and she spoiled me a lot. When I was about 16 she told me that she was going to keep this pouch of diamonds in the safe for me. I didn’t really think about it, or have the means to do anything with them, but much later I decided to put them into this platinum necklace in the ‘diamonds by the yard’ style. Mainly because I thought I’m not going to keep them in a little pouch, I’ll end up losing them!
It’s a simple design that I can wear with anything – dress it up or dress it down. It’s very long so I like to wrap it around my neck and layer it. I even wear it sleeping – my family always joke that that’s how I’m going to die, choked by a diamond necklace! I just love the history and the message behind it: keep your diamonds close to you because you never know.
I’ve always been somebody who stares at the moon. It helps me to find peace of mind. Whenever I feel lonely or I have something I need to figure out I’ll just look at the moon, it calms me down and guides me. So I wanted to create a pendant that represented swinging on the moon.
I included all my favourite stones that I love – diamonds, pearls and moonstones – and made it in black gold to give the piece more of an edge. I love moonstones because of the way they reflect light and the saturation of colours when they move – it’s incredible. This pendant is part of my signature collection, Galaxia, and is my all-time favourite Colette piece.
Diamond secret watch
This belonged to my grandmother, who had it custom-made in London. She was very into jewellery and she had a lot of beautiful pieces that were custom-made. She was married three times and this one came from her second husband. Like me, she had very skinny wrists so everything of hers fits me very well.
She was also like me in that she was unattached to things, so whenever I went to her house she would give me something, whether a book, a piece of jewellery or whatever. She gave my brother money and other things but the jewellery always went to me. So I have a lot of beautiful pieces from her but this is one of my favourites. She gave it to me when I was 18.
The middle opens up and there is a little watch inside. I have quite a hard time getting it open but the watch still works. It holds a special place in my heart because I used to watch my grandmother put this on, and I was always asking her if I could open it to see the watch. I’ve been fascinated with watches since I was a kid – she gave me another one, not an expensive one, that I completely took apart to see the inner mechanisms. I wear this one as a bracelet and I love it, I’ve even designed a collection around it.
Great-grandmother’s diamond ring
During the Mexican revolution people used to hide their belongings in the most random places because otherwise everything would be destroyed. The ring belonged to my great grandmother. Behind her closet she had a fake wall built where she stored all of her most precious jewelry and valuables. This particular ring is very special because it meant so much to her, to her daughter, and to my mother, who passed it on to me about 18 years ago.
It’s one of my favourite pieces and I wear it all the time. I love the way the diamonds are cut and the colour of the gold, kind of a mix between pink and yellow gold. It’s very very old and my grandmother used to wear it all the time too, I had to redo the shank because it was so thin. I was inspired by this ring to create a range using all different coloured diamonds and gemstones and they were hugely successful. I think I’ll probably die with this ring on my finger!