H.R.H. Prince Dimitri photographed by Victor Skrebneski.
H.R.H. Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia
Founder & Jeweler, Prince Dimitri. Author, Once Upon a Diamond: A Family Tradition of Royal Jewels.
We have a chat with Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia, who we came upon during a marvelous webinar, sharing intriguing stories about his ancestors, the Romanovs, and their relationship to Cartier. As former Senior Vice-President of Sotheby’s Jewelry Department, he is Founder and Creative Director of jewelry design house, Prince Dimitri.
A true creative, he recently published the beautiful book, Once Upon a Diamond: A Family Tradition of Royal Jewels. Receiving rave reviews for its beautiful photography and fascinating anecdotes, we were enthusiastic to hear how Prince Dimitri’s family has impacted his appreciation for history and innovative design.
Where did you first develop your passion for jewelry?
From a very young age, I was fascinated by jewelry and stones. As a child, I loved to examine the jewels of my mother and grandmothers.
How and where did you hone your expertise in this area?
At Sotheby’s Jewelry Department, my knowledge of stones was developed at the GIA (Gemological Institute of America). Surrounded by the best experts, I learned a lot.
How did you start creating your own jewelry?
A friend of mine came back from Brazil. He showed me a pair of cufflinks he had made for himself, I loved the stones but felt the mounting was thick and clumsy. I decided the setting should be replaced with diamonds in the center, and the gold mounting should be a link through the stones. This idea became a line of cufflinks that was sold at Bergdorf Goodman and other stores.
Prince Dimitri at work in his New York City atelier.
You have a distinct style, designing for brands such as Salvador Assael and Asprey. How do you choose the brands you collaborate with?
Those two brands chose me. I designed collections that I thought would be in their spirit, but in my style.
What is your favorite gemstone or material to work with?
I do not have one. I love them all. They actually become my favorite while I’m working on them and then it’s the next ones, etc… As for materials, I like many, from all precious metals to rubber, wood, hard stones and non-precious metals.
What is a treasured piece of jewelry that you wear?
I wear a cross that I made; it is the Cross of Saint James, also known as the cross of Santiago de Compostela. This is the cross of the Nights Templar, embroidered on their capes, as they went on to the First Crusade and liberated Jerusalem in 1099. My cross is made of Damascus steel and has a cabochon ruby in the center.
What is the most stylish decade that you would revisit?
The 1950’s. It was so elegant and glamorous.
What does elegance mean to you?
Elegance is not only about wearing beautiful clothes – it’s also about how you wear them. Some people have a natural physical elegance and are oblivious to it; it’s just in their DNA. They move, they walk, they talk in an elegant way, and it’s always such a pleasure to be around them. With elegance comes kindness and respect for others.
Which travel destination had the most profound impact on you?
Egypt and its mysteries that we are still discovering. Being inside the center room of the Great Pyramid was a mystical experience, as well as the tomb of the 24 sacred bulls in Saqqara. The energy there was amazing, and I felt it pulsating all around me; it was the same feeling when I went to Machu Picchu. This force that came from the depth of the universe felt like I was back home in eternity.
You have written the supremely beautiful book, Once Upon a Diamond: A Family Tradition of Royal Jewels. What are you most excited for readers to discover?
I am excited for the reader to discover the entire book. Every part of it is interesting; it’s like a window that opens into the past and present. The book is very multi-faceted and there is a lot to absorb. You should take your time… and the last part is a selection of my work.
What is your favorite quote or saying?
Albert Einstein, who was saved from Nazi persecution by my great-grandmother, Queen Elizabeth of Belgium, said: All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. I inscribed this on the back of my diamond and ruby paisley branch brooch, on the cover of my book.
"For those who know how to listen even the stones speak." - Prince Dimitri
Movie Gone with the Wind
Actress Grace Kelly
Book A Course in Miracles by Helen Schucman
Art Piece Petrus Christus’s Madonna of the Dry Tree
Song La Vie en rose
Scent Eau Sauvage
Style Icon Marella Agnelli
Images courtesy of H.R.H. Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia.