Updated: Nov 10, 2021
An interview with Jeanne-Marie Chan from HEDONE ROMANE
By Ralph Chan, Austria
Successful, highly recognized, a Filipina. Jeanne-Marie Chan not only inspires the French-Filipino community but the whole Euro-Pinoy diaspora. Her company HEDONE ROMANE is known and has been featured in major fashion and design magazines.
Rawmags has the opportunity to speak to the women behind HEDONE ROMANE. Discover what it means to be a Filipino entrepreneur in Europe, and one embodies being Filipino in her jewelry.
Can you introduce and tell the story of HEDONE ROMANE? What makes HEDONE ROMANE so special?
HEDONE ROMANE is a luxury niche brand. Our jewelry are sculptural narratives, abstract treasures, and bespoke mementos. Every piece is hallmarked and produced by highly skilled French ateliers and artisans experienced in the luxury industry for the finest craftsmanship and savoir-faire in the world. Our stones are sourced from reputable gem dealers internationally.
The journey all began in the winter of 2006 on Avenue Montaigne in Paris. I coined the name HEDONE ROMANE from ‘hedonism’, the doctrine that esteemed pleasure as the highest good; and ‘romanticism’, the artistic and literary movement that exalted strong emotions and the imagination. We started in fine jewelry; then in 2008, bespoke jewelry; and in 2010 diversified into fashion jewelry. Le Bon Marche was our first point-of-sale in 2007 where we launched our fine jewelry. From there, HEDONE ROMANE was showcased in Selfridges, Artcurial, Luisa Via Roma, Wolf & Badger, More Is Love, and other select points-of-sales in France, UK, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Georgia, etc.; and featured in magazines such as Robb Report, Elle, Lash, Soon, West East, Savoir Flair, Financial Times. “Touch Me Not” ring, one of my personal favorites for its artistry, also featured in a book, “Jewelry Design from Fashion to Fine Jewelry”
What does it mean to you to be an entrepreneur? How did you get into designing jewelry?
It has been a longstanding dream to create; but my education and upbringing did not care much about creativity. Being an entrepreneur means living this immortal dream. I left the cocoon of Manila for the glamour of Paris in 1999 to pursue an MBA specializing in the luxury industry. I have gone from investment banking to wines & spirits and to watches & jewelry; from finance to international business development, strategic marketing, and to creation and design; from corporate to entrepreneurship. I have worked for companies such as Maxxium (Remy-Cointreau, Highland Distillers, Vin & Sprit, Jim Beam), LVMH Watch & Jewelry (De Beers, Dior, Chaumet, Zenith, Tag Heuer, Ebel), Van Cleef & Arpels on international levels.
HEDONE ROMANE is my creative and artistic journey. I’ve always said, “You have to have lived to create.” As a jewelry designer, I believe that inspiration must begin inside for any ‘romantic originality’. My creations for HEDONE ROMANE are most powerful when they start with an overture of intense emotions and when passion drives imagination. Somewhere between being conscious and subconscious, I relate very much to the precursors of Romanticism in art and literature.
HEDONE ROMANE jewelry is a celebration, and a lamentation of the luxury of being. Memory and imagination recollected, carved, crafted in gold, and embellished with precious stones into forms that are irregularly paradoxical, curvaceously seductive, and pompously dramatic. I’d like to push the creative boundaries in jewelry design. Perhaps one day I will have the creative freedom to realize them.
Which influences of the Filipino culture have you been able to apply in your work or your working style? How much Filipino identity is there in you as an entrepreneur?
In the past two decades of living in Europe, I had to go through many firsts – first Filipino of ESSEC MBA Luxe, of LVMH Watch & Jewelry, of Van Cleef & Arpels, of Maxxium at Headquarter levels as well as first Filipino granted the Talent and Competency Status (‘Renommée Internationale’) by the French government, etc. Being of Chinese descent in the Philippines was not easy, neither was it being Asian especially Filipino in France. This meant overcoming stereotypes and transcending barriers. As an entrepreneur, it’s not all roses but rather a Sisyphean cycle. I had to accept that I do not belong in a ‘box’ and keep to my own identity. I sought the best of my cultural heritage – diligence from the Chinese, creativity from the French, and optimism from the Filipinos. So, for me it’s not about Filipino identity as much as it is about values. This ability to rise, fall, and smile with renewed optimism all over again. Its Voltaire’s Candide and its Filipino too.
If you could create jewelry for a celebrity, for whom, why and which piece of jewelry would it be?
HEDONE ROMANE is an acquired taste for jewelry connoisseurs drawn to a universe that is hedonistic and romantic. Women who fall in love with our jewels are not first-time jewelry buyers. They are sophisticated, well-travelled, cosmopolitan women with exquisite taste who carries fine jewelry with ease. They recognize and appreciate the creative artistry, the handmade quality, and the French craftsmanship which goes into every unique piece, limited series, or bespoke jewelry. Amongst our clientele are jewelry collectors and specialists, socialites and aristocrats, corporate achievers, housewives, etc. That is to say – you don’t have to be a celebrity to wear HEDONE ROMANE jewelry.
In your opinion, what are the competencies that Filipinos need to be successful in the European design and jewelry world?
Creativity and entrepreneurship are key. It’s a balancing act, complementary not contradictory. One cannot be ‘only artist’ or ‘only business’ but both. This is more so for fine jewelry, which is inherently a non-essential and a luxury for the majority.
What advice do you have for young Filipinas or Filipinos who design their own jewelry and dream of bringing their own collection into the market in future?
Design your life, build your dream, let life unfold gracefully. At some point, you will come to realize that the question is no longer “Where am You from?” but “Where do You want to go?”