LA-based jewellery specialist Michael M adds a touch of European sophistication and elegance into the US marketplace
Peter Meksian has been working in jewellery since he was 11. That’s how old he was when his father, Michael, started teaching him the secrets of the family trade. “My father has been in the jewellery business for his entire life,” says Peter, co-founder of the luxury handcrafted jewellery brand Michael M. “He learnt the craft and then got me involved at a very young age, starting on the bench when I was 11 and working my way up. After graduating from business school, we started the business together. With his passion for design and craft and my skills in sales and marketing, we made a good team. We’re about creating the new classics: self-expression, customization and doing things your own way.”
Michael M was founded in 2008 by the father-and-son partnership who wanted to introduce a European sense of sophistication, self-expression and elegance into the jewellery industry. The Meksians created a design studio and workshop in Los Angeles with the intention of appealing to customers who appreciated superior quality and were looking for a jeweller that would go the extra step both through timeless design and faultless execution. Michael M uses a crown for its logo to emphasize the high quality and to act as a constant reminder that every piece of M jewellery is the crown jewel for someone, so the craftspeople should treat each item like the most important piece in the world.
The company employs around 100 people, 70 or 80 of whom are the craftspeople who work on the pieces. This includes three people whose entire job is sorting through the diamonds that come to Michael M from all over the world. Diamonds are responsibly sourced and must meet Michael M’s incredibly high standards. Each diamond is then hand-set, a time-consuming process for a single diamond let alone pieces that can have up to 600 precious stones. “Every single one of our pieces is hand-set without any machines,” says Peter with pride. “It’s all done by hand under a microscope.”
These diamonds are used in Michael M’s bridal line of classic engagement and wedding rings, which are available in the country’s best retailers and department stores. There’s also the Dreaming In Color range for collectors, which is inspired by the vivid colours of the natural world, and features unique creations set with natural-coloured diamonds handset in gold or platinum. There are brooches, necklaces, pendants and earrings, beautiful examples of imaginative design, exceptional material and meticulous craftsmanship with prices that that can stretch to $250,000.
More recently, Michael M introduced the “everyday line”. “That’s for the same customers who buy Dreaming In Color, but it’s to be worn when you go out for lunch or do the shopping,” says Peter. “So we have jewellery for brides, for jewellery collectors and now everyday jewellery which starts at around $400 and goes up to $3,000. That collection has had a massive amount of success because we retain the same standards of excellence and quality.”
Peter Meksian has now graduated from being his father’s youthful apprentice to running the company. But he still talks to his father on a regular basis about future plans. “My dad is still involved and, every decision I make, I love to share with him,” he says. “I don’t want approval but I love his feedback and thought process. We are still a team and two brains are always better than one.”