The Royal Jewellers S02 ep10 : Mellerio dits Meller Jewellery [Paris]
Interview with Francois Mellerio
The grandfather of the current directors, a modest and extremely discreet man, Charles Mellerio belongs to the long line of artists in the family. His watercolours were exhibited many times at the Salon des Artistes Français at the Grand Palais and he received the Prix de Rome award for drawing at the age of 20. Nonetheless, he had to renounce the reward for this prize – a one-year stay at the Villa Médicis – and the artistic career of his dreams to take on his role in the family business. There he learned the profession of jeweller and was, in this respect, awarded the title of best craftsman in France. He ultimately declared that he was prouder of this award than the Prix de Rome… Like his grandfather Jean-François and his father Raphaël before him, he himself designed the jewels that can still be admired in the Company’s archives. Charles Mellerio was thus one of the few jewellers to be both craftsman and company director, dividing his time between “the peg” and the accounts books. How better to manage a company than by having an intimate knowledge of all of its workings and mastering the profession with heart, hand and soul?
FM - Mellerio is a very old family firm and was created in 1613 and I am the fourteenth
KM - Fourteenth?
FM - Fourteenth, and we are always been in the jewellery business - high jewellery, and also
clock, watches and silver.
KM - I gather you must be the oldest jeweller in France.
FM - Yes of course we are, and maybe in the world.
KM - I suppose you never had a choice of what you were going to do? Or did you have a chance?
FM - Yes, I had a chance because I have five brothers and two sisters and there is only one place
for one of us, so I am the only one
KM - Are you the eldest brother?
FM - Yes, I am the eldest.
KM - When you first joined the company, what was it like compared to now?
Was it very different?
FM - Yes, quite different, but first of all I had to learn the business. I had to learn how to buy
diamonds, how to buy precious stones, so that was my first work. After a while I was able to do
buy and that was the most important thing.
KM - Did you do a gemmological course?
FM - Yes of course.
KM - In France?
FM - Yes, in France and also in the States at the GIA in New York.
KM - How do you compare say the design and the times in the late 60's and early 70's to now?
FM - In ‘68 high jewellery was mostly in Platinum and now a days is mostly in yellow gold. That
is one of the differences and you know the techniques of the ways have changed. It is still all made
KM - What is jewellery?
FM - Jewellery is something beautiful, I love the stones and I love to make it my business. First
of all it is very nice for me to do what I am doing.
KM - Now you were saying you do jewellery and you do watches and you do objects?
FM - Yes.
KM - Are they all made all here in Paris?
FM - Most of them are, but for the watches we buy the movements in Switzerland, but the rest is
made here by our own workers who make our jewellery.
KM - How big is your workshop?
FM - Oh it is not very big, we have about thirty people altogether. About ten people working to
make the jewels, ten people for the selling and ten people for the services.
KM - Who does the design work?
FM - We have designers some of them are in the firm and we buy ??? from others, people
working on their own.
KM - What would you say is unique to Mellerio? How would you explain the style of Mellerio
Jewellery, for someone who has never seen it?
FM - We make things very special, like the horses, objects like that, but mostly we deal only
with very very fine stones.
KM - If you have been around since 1638 did you say?
FM - No 1613
KM - 1613. Who were some of your customers, historic customers?
FM - We have plenty. Many of the Kings of France, Kings from other countries, we have many,
many famous customers.
KM - Do you still have drawings....
FM - Oh yes of course., we have very interesting things.
FM - Last year we made all the objects for the ??? for the Basilica of ???? in the Ivory Coast.
Maybe you remember they make a big Basiilica in the Ivory Coast. We have made all the objects.
A cross of two metres and a half high and one metres and a half in width.
KM - This is for a Church in the Ivory Coast?
FM - Yes.
KM - Why did they come to Paris?
FM - Because we are very famous for these kind of objects.
KM - Any other things you have done that are very unusual?
FM - I make a special clock for Mrs. Thatcher, and this clock was to take in the tunnel under the
channel. And the clock I made was just the digger and it was offered by the French company to
Mrs. Thatcher because the President thought that the tunnel has been made because Mrs. Thatcher
was for that.
KM - What is your favourite part of the business?
FM - My favourite part is to create, to make something new. I am very proud when I make
something that nobody else has made before. I made this collection of horses, which is very
unusual. You won’t see that anywhere else.
KM - What happens when a customer comes to you and wants a major piece? Do you then go
around to all your suppliers to see what you can find?
FM - Yeah sure, I have friends, and I would say friends, more than suppliers, all over the world
and it is a very small business world wide and we know all the big dealers in the world.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Mellerio dits Meller Jewellery