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We recently published Dimitri of Yugoslavia: a Prince for the 21st Century, the story of a member of the European nobility who has become one of today´s most prominent jewelry designers. His innate love of jewelry increased gradually with encouragement from his mother, Princess Maria Pia of Savoy, and his grandmothers: Princess Maria José of Belgium, wife of the last king of Italy Umberto II, and Princess Olga of Greece and Denmark, married to Paul of Yugoslavia.
At the end of the 1990s, and together with Chilean friend Alvaro Cuadrado, Dimitri created his first piece of jewelry: a pair of cufflinks using Brazilian gemstones. At the time, the prince did not realize he was planting the seeds of what would become, years later, one of the most prestigious jewelry firms in the world. After selling his creations in some of the most renowned department stores in the United States (Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Barney’s New York and Saks Fifth Avenue), he partnered with pearl importer Salvador Assael and founded Prince Dimitri for Assael: The New Look of Pearls. The handsome Yugoslavian prince continues to dazzle his exclusive clients with the stunning and highly original pieces of his new label.
In 2007 Todd Morley, a great admirer of his work, decided to invest in his unique talent, paving the way, in 2008, for the Prince Dimitri Company, headquartered at 5 East 57 Street, a spectacular corner location overlooking Manhattan. Clear and bright, the offices are decorated in neutral tones. On the walls hangs a wonderful selection of portraits of the designer´s royal ancestors, as well as photographs where famous personalities, such as Pope John Paul II and Carla Bruni, pose with the Prince. Dimitri welcomes his exclusive clientele, By Appointment Only, in this elegant setting. Here, he presents them with velvet lined trays that caress his unique brand of jewelry, produced in very limited quantities, masterfully combining different materials, such as steel, bronze, wood, rubies, diamonds, emeralds, sapphires or oxidized silver.
He produces, at most, ten pieces at a time; once they are sold, he moves on to a new model, highlighting the exclusive nature of his designs. His customers tend to be highly sophisticated ladies who, tired of commercial designs, are looking for something different, daring, and definitely unique. His bespoke services are becoming increasingly popular with the international elite. They include restoration and redesign of antique jewelry and precious stones, presented with modern, contemporary styling.
Every creation comes with a unique story, but there is one piece he remembers fondly: a wood and diamonds necklace he created three years ago. It took him two years to complete because of the extreme difficulty of the job. He refused to have the pieces glued in; instead he opted for a mechanical fitting, using screws, rope, leather and 24K links. Dimitri also recalls the diadem he designed for the Tiara Exhibition at the Albert & Victoria Museum in London in 2002, and the stunning cross commissioned by actress Marisa Berenson as a wedding gift for Liza Minelli. At 2013, he launched a very successful cufflink collection for Aspreys in London. The company has now commissioned a bridal line that will feature wedding and engagement rings, as well presents for weddings, christenings and special occasions.
Although the Prince Dimitri Company entered the market during a terrible financial crisis, his jewels have managed to maintain their hierarchy as the authentic legacy of his royal heritage, long tradition and high modernity. ■