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December 7, 2012updated Feb 21, 2013

Paolo Costagli

By Chris Boyle

Paolo Costagli

Paolo Costagli, Inc

If you don’t like hearing the word “no” you will enjoy meeting Paolo Costagli. The soft-spoken Italian jeweler has become a favorite among celebrities and sophisticated collectors at least in part by excluding that two-letter word from his vocabulary. Recently Elite Traveler Editor-in-Chief Douglas Gollan visited Costagli at his 5th Avenue headquarters in midtown Manhattan.

ET: Tell us a bit about your background.

Paolo Costagli: First and foremost, I am a gemologist. I have had a strong attraction to gemstones for as long as I can remember. Some of my fondest memories of Florence, my hometown, are of admiring the jewels on the Ponte Vecchio with my mother when I was a child. She is a very sophisticated and cultured lady who would point out all the different types of gemstones and I loved guessing the various materials in the jewelry store windows. I left Florence at 19 years old and attended the Gemological Institute of America in California, the start of my career as a jewelry designer.

ET: How would you describe Paolo Costagli?

Paolo Costagli: Sophisticated color combinations and rare gemstones. We also have a very distinct, sparkling 18K gold Brillante collection that has enjoyed much success.

ET: What separates you from other designers?

Paolo Costagli: We focus on exceptionally rare gemstones that are difficult to find in the market. Mandarin garnets that are over 20 carats, colored diamonds with antique shapes and cutting styles, and gem shapes that seem twice as large as their carat weight. We set ourselves apart from the competition that sells regular round brilliant one-carat diamonds. This passion has led me to my niche of rare colored gemstones.

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ET: How do you get inspirations for collections and pieces?

Paolo Costagli: Most of my inspiration comes from my upbringing in Florence and Venice. The Garden of the Iris, Tuscan countryside and the Palace of the Doge, specifically. The magic of those destinations is translated in my jewels.

ET: What countries do you sell in?

Paolo Costagli: We have expanding distribution with luxury department stores and independent jewelry stores in the United States, and travel internationally to host private previews and exhibitions. The collection is at Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Mitchells and more of course, and I just returned from a private trunk shoe in Hong Kong, where there was an extraordinary response.

ET: What are your plans for growth over the next five years?

Paolo Costagli: We are at the forefront of our industry for e-commerce. The future is online for luxury. We also see a tremendous opportunity in Asia and will expand distribution in Hong Kong, Singapore and Beijing, in addition to expanding throughout the US. Dubai is of interest as well.

ET: Being a successful designer takes both creativity and business acumen. Do you have any role models or people you look up to in this regard?

Paolo Costagli: In terms of creativity and quality, I look up to French jewelers from the 1920s and 1930s. They traveled the world sourcing their own gemstones, taking on 100 percent of the risk by financing all of their purchases independently, designed with their own original ideas and were true, excellent bench jewelers. This is the essence of the fine jewelry industry, and I stay as close to this path as possible.

ET: Is there any advice you would give to other entrepreneurs like yourself?

Paolo Costagli: Be ready to take a lot of risks, and under no circumstances accept no as an answer. No is not a word in my vocabulary.

ET: Where are your favorite places to travel to? For business? For pleasure? And any favorite hotels or resorts?

Paolo Costagli: Hong Kong for both business and pleasure. I attend Asia’s largest jewelry show twice a year in Hong Kong, and I enjoy the energy and dynamism of the city very much.

ET: Anything else you would like to tell our readers?

Paolo Costagli: The idea and purpose of fine jewelry is changing into something that is enjoyed during the day, in the evening and for every occasion no matter whether it is casual or formal. This is the kind of jewelry we create. A jewel that can be enjoyed often and not forgotten about in a safe somewhere.

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