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By Zahra Al-Kateb | June 10 2015
Since establishing Michael John Jewelry alongside his brother John Hezar in 2005, Michael Hezar has created beautifully crafted bridal designs as well as manufacturing for various brands and designers. His creativity and talents have been well recognized by the industry, with Michael John Jewelry being recently nominated as a finalist in the 2012 AGTA Honorable Evening Wear Award. In this interview Michael Hezar tells us more.
Tell us about the history of your brand and how it got to its current incarnation.
I began my journey in the jewelry industry in 1987, working for a jeweler while I was in college. A passion for design began to brew within, and after I graduated I launched my first jewelry company in 1990 – masterfully crafting private label fine jewelry and bridal designs. In 1995, my brother John joined the company, leading the manufacturing operations while I continued to design and develop our business. Together, my brother and I launched our fine jewelry brand, Michael John Jewelry in 2005. The brand focuses on high-end diamond and gemstone fashion collections with strong attention to quality, creativity and design details. Every piece is crafted in our California-based state-of-the-art facilities. Our collections are available for purchase at select Neiman Marcus and top independent fine jewelry stores. We have since grown the brand internationally and have been honored with many design awards. In addition, our jewelry continues to adorn celebrities including: Jennifer Lopez, Charlize Theron and Katharine McPhee just to name a few.
What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment of 2014?
In 2014, Michael John Jewelry expanded the brand internationally to Hong Kong and China with an exclusive collection of jewelry targeted to those markets. Also in 2014, luxury department store, Neiman Marcus, began carrying our collections – another significant highlight of the year.
What is new for your brand in 2015?
The Michael John Jewelry brand is continuing to grow and our signature jewelry collections and one-of-a-kind designs are more widely available throughout the U.S. and in Asia as well. We also recently opened our beautiful Orange County-based showroom to the public for engagement, bridal and custom design purchases. Additionally, we have dedicated a stand-alone website to our Michael John Bridal Collection (www.MichaelJohnBridal.com).
My family and I love to travel and explore new places. Traveling gives me a sense of freedom, and it is the time that I feel the most at ease, and the time that I’m able to fully unleash my creativity. I love nature and anything organic, especially geometric shapes, so a lot of things I’m exposed to during my travels influence my designs.
What upcoming project are you most excited about?
I’m always coming up with innovative, new designs – that’s my favorite aspect of my job. We are continuing to grow our brand in the retail and wholesale segment of the jewelry business, so it’s quite exciting to build relationships and open new accounts, whilst maintaining relations with our long-time loyal customers. I’m also traveling to the Middle East and Dubai this summer to expand our brand even further internationally.
What trends at the recent Las Vegas Jewelry Shows did you notice?
This year I was impressed with the level of creativity and artistry that was displayed. It seems as though the biggest trend is that many companies are developing a signature look and feel, and really honing in on setting themselves apart from other brands. As far as trends, custom designs, ear climbers and ear cuffs, open work designs, rose gold, rose cut diamonds, geometric shapes and stackable jewelry still seem to dominate the jewelry trends in the market and are our best selling merchandise categories.
What have been some challenges you have had to overcome in the past?
Standing out is indefinitely a challenge, especially because there is so much available! There’s so much product and information available to consumers, especially with social media and e-commerce accessible 24/7. Finding a way to differentiate our brand in a fast-paced market becomes more and more challenging each year.
I source my stones in the U.S., as well as other countries, depending on the type of stone, the design and the inspiration behind it. The origin of the stone can be from many places, but I primarily source from Belgium, India, Poland, Brazil and Africa (to name a few). Aside from designing, the hunt to source beautiful, rare gemstones and diamonds from all corners of the globe is a really exciting part of my job!
How do you define luxury?
In my opinion, Luxury is defined as a state of comfort…something that is unique, individualistic and makes you feel incredible!
How do you approach a new collection? Where do your ideas evolve from?
I am inspired by culture and nature – typically ideas come to me during family vacations, a walk on the beach or a hike in the mountains. When I connect with nature, I absorb the shapes and colors of my surroundings, and the ideas will just flow. Having my sketch book nearby helps to preserve my ideas until I am back at the office.
What do you do in your free time?
In my free time, I enjoy watching, coaching and/or playing soccer with my boys.