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You may or may not have heard of Claire Vessot, but you have probably admired some of her award-winning work. Claire is one of the most sought after Canadian jewelry designers and the artist behind ELLE jewelry. Her ELLE designs have been described as sophisticated, contemporary, cutting-edge and timeless. The sleek jewelry can be seen on women who share an appreciation for a unique mix of trendsetting yet classically beautiful jewelry. Yves St. Laurent once said, “Fashion fades, style is eternal.” Never before has a quote been able to capture the essence of a jewelry line. One thing becomes certain when you are looking at the elegant ELLE collection;  its designer, Vessot, truly understands what women want. Claire’s passion for jewelry has taken what was once a vision and turned it into a reality. After viewing some of her designs, one begins to wonder, “Who is the woman behind ELLE jewelry?”

A native of Montreal, Claire studied fine arts and fashion design at Ryerson University in Toronto. It was there that she began to harness her talents in illustration and painting while fine tuning her appreciation of three dimensional forms. She says the combination of these elements beckoned her into the world of jewelry design. After university in 1986, Claire’s apprenticeship with European Jewelers in Toronto set the stage for what was to become a skyrocketing career. She returned home to Montreal and began working with the Design Team at Canada’s premier fine jeweler, Birk’s and Sons. It was here that she honed her natural talents and gained priceless insight from the jewelry house that would give her that stylish edge that keeps her ELLE designs at the forefront of fashion jewelry. Since 1987, Claire has won 14 awards including the DeBeers Diamond’s Today award which they have honored her with ten times. When asked how she manages to consistently create such luxurious jewelry, she says that there is one philosophy that permeates through her work and that is to “stay close to beauty.”

“I have always wanted to design something truly fine with sterling silver in fresh-ever changing themes. I know I’m onto something exciting, and know it’s right when the design takes a certain unexpected turn that is surprising,” says Vessot. In response to the increasing demand for her work in the industry, Claire launched her own company Vessot Designs in 1995. Her company began providing jewelry design and manufacturing for a myriad of clients, including Montreal-based Bijoux Continental. In 1998, Bijoux Continental was acquired by the Prime-Art Jeweler Group. Fast forward several years, Claire is busy lending her sought-after creativity to ELLE designs. She says designing for ELLE is rewarding…”The ultimate quality of these pieces is rewarding for me as an artist, as even in the very early stages of conceptualization all dimensions are considered. These pieces when held in my hand after they have been modeled, cast and polished have a unique and pleasing feeling to them that is hard to forget.” Her designs are hard for the consumers to forget too. The sleek lines, the gorgeous curves and the infusion of vibrant gemstones create an alluring quality that has become synonymous with ELLE jewelry. In 2004, her ELLE Jewelry designs were honored with the Dallas Fashion Award and she recently won third place for the JCK Jeweler’s Choice Award for Best Bracelet Under $2500.

When holding a piece from the ELLE jewelry collection, one begins to wonder what inspires Claire to create such exquisite pieces. While traveling with colleagues through Europe and Asia, Claire was able to obtain a global perspective on what consumers are looking for. By studying street trends from all over the world, listening to feedback from the retailers and paying close attention to what colors are hot in the market, Vessot and her product development team collaborate to fine-tune each piece. “I find a global perspective on what is important, much like viewing something obvious through a mirror and seeing differently as if for the first time,” says Vessot. She and her team work in also work in close collaboration with ELLE Paris, which offers an in-depth forecast for Europe’s fashions. However, the award-winning designer says that although she takes note of the latest trends, she likes to immerse herself into an “intuitive process” and create her own interpretation of  ‘ELLE style’. Although the ELLE collection is comprised of a myriad of pieces, Claire says she always keeps the bigger concept in mind. “I simply get a sense of the way this will translate well into the future with ease and a little panache!”

 Jewelry designers often find inspiration around the things that surround them, even the most natural of elements. People close to Claire say that she is truly a free spirit. Her philosophy of staying close to beauty has served Claire well. Anyone looking at the ELLE collection can see that designing jewelry is not just a job for Claire; it’s a passion that ignites a creative fire inside of her. When speaking of the art of designing jewelry Vessot becomes introspective, “The design process is intangible, but rich and true inspiration is a feeling that comes with impetus, evolves, and you just know you are on the right track.”