Interview: Un membre qui est passionné par jewellery
I have had the pleasure of knowing Eugene Keshett for a little more than 1 year and recently over a large cup of Belgium hot chocolate at his favourite place near his office, Eugene shared with me the story of his ‘Jewellery Life’ and his ‘French Life’. I was so fascinated that, with Eugene’s agreement, I decided to share his wonderful story with you.
Eugene is the owner of KESHETT on little Collins street Melbourne. He is a passionate specialist jeweller. The store KESHETT is tiny, beautiful and as many of the most interesting places in the world, it is tucked away for you to discover. In fact I’m finding it difficult to not describe it as a ‘jewel’, but more about that later.
Eugene, now an Australian citizen lives in Melbourne and is a member of My French Life. He frequently attends our reunions, as an opportunity to practice his french language skills. Eugene’s background in the jewellery industry started in the late 70’s, after he was trained in the diamond industry.
“I was selling diamonds to the retail traders and manufacturers in Melbourne” said Eugene. “The retailers expressed a need for ready made jewellery, so I started to design and manufacture things for my clients. While overseas I saw a few auction houses and saw the opportunity to bring to Australia vintage jewellery, like Victorian, Art Deco and retro pieces. I was selling it to the retailers and developed a passion for these pieces and decided to set up my own retail outlet.”
Your store KESHETT is très sympa the style is art deco isn’t it? Why did you design it like this? It appears that you had the furniture especially made is this true? Can you tell us about your store?
“Today a lot of modern jewellery is influenced by Art Deco style and this has been a very popular style, in jewellery, architecture, decorative art and other things. A local designer who specialises in Art Deco style assisted us with the store set up. The store was designed with the client in mind, with an open inviting layout to encourage people to browse and chat casually with our staff to learn more about the history of our pieces. ”JUDY: And there are many stories, fascinating details which add to these extraordinary jewels.
You seem to have a passion for beautiful things, not only jewellery…
“Yes, that’s true. I enjoy decorative art, beautiful clothes, fine wine and fine dining. I am now able to appreciate the good things in life!”
In terms of jewellery do you have a preferred period or preferred designers?
“Yes, I really love jewellery from the 40’s and 50’s and my favourite designer is Bvlgari of the 80’s and 90’s era.”
You travel internationally to buy jewels; where do you go and why?
“London, Paris, New York,Buenos Aires, Miami, as these are the biggest centres for vintage jewellery.”
In an industry where prices are often extraordinary, finding quality jewels at the right price must be difficult and competitive? How do you achieve this (especially in France)?
“It took me many years to find the right suppliers and develop strong business relationships with them. These relationships enable me to source fantastic unique pieces and negotiate good prices, that I can pass on to my client base in Melbourne. ”JUDY: Whilst we chatted, Eugene also shared with me how he goes about locating and buying jewellery in France. I’d like to add that I have always found Eugene to be an unassuming gentleman, who is warm and easily forms relationships which seem as if they would last a long time. I can only assume, together with what Eugene shared with me, that there are 4 key factors in his success… 1. A passion for his family, life, travel and jewellery 2. His technical expertise and ability to see opportunities where precious pieces maybe enhanced by remodelling when the style is out of favour and 3. His ability to form and nurture longterm relationships, for example with the people from whom he sources the jewellery and 4. His natural ability to negotiate a deal and in so doing ensure that his client is able to puchase the piece they love at an appropriate price.
Eugene, I understand you speak a number of languages. Would you mind telling me how many and what they are? So does that make French your 3rd or 4th language?
As I spent my childhood in Israel, Hebrew is my first language. Then my parents took me to Russia where I learnt Russian. Before coming to Australia I learnt English and I learnt a little bit of German through my travels, and now I in the process of perfecting my French!JUDY: ah Eugene, so it’s your 5th language! And here I am struggling with my second 🙂
Why did you commence learning French? How long ago was that and how have you been going about it?
“As I was frequently traveling to France to source jewellery I became very frustrated when I was sitting in a fine restaurant with a huge menu and no-one was willing to explain it to me. So I said to myself I have to learn at least the food menu so I can enjoy next time, and that’s how it started. This was in the early 2000’s, I have had a French lesson with a tutor one hour each week where we read a book and discuss it. ”
What are your personal passions?
“Travelling to new places, spending time with my family and watching my grand kids grow up, enjoying good wine and restaurants, music; jazz and world music and living life to the fullest! ”
Can we now play a little game of favourites for a minute?
City in France: Paris
Quarter in Paris: Marais
Gallery in Paris: When in Paris I prefer to go to Auction Houses
French music: Grande Bouffe (movie), Anouar Braham – Tunisian aud player based in Paris
Restaurant in Paris: I always like to try new or unusual restaurants. Last time I was in Paris I tried Ribouldingue Restaurant and I loved it!
Region in France: Provence
Do you have any advice for our members, about buying jewellery?
“Learn about the periods, and find a dealer you can trust as it is very hard to identify the quality and whether the piece is genuine unless you are an expert. So buy from someone who has been in business for a long time or who has been recommended to you. ”
Would you show us a couple of your favourite French pieces …
Thank you for taking the time to speak with us Eugene, I have really enjoyed learning more about your ‘Jewellery life’ and your ‘French Life’, I look forward to another chat and another chocolat chaud soon.
Where are your favourite jewellery stores? Let us know in the comment box below.Image credits:
Photos by Eugene Keshett. NB 1. (right) with his friend Thierry Valfort a well known avant-garde furniture designer (left)