It started with a chain, caught around Katia Gaydamak’s palm. A jewellery designer by profession, she and her gemmologist sister Sonia had decided to create a line of jewellery, when the idea for an unconventional piece formed in their minds. The result was a unique hand bracelet, a ring of precious metal snugly wrapped around the palm, forming elaborate patterns and decorated with sparkling diamonds and coloured stones.
The first prototypes were worn by Katia and Sonia and shown to family and friends. “The reaction was so positive that we thought, ‘why not?’”says Sonia. From then on, the creative juices just kept flowing. The pair, who grew up between Moscow, London, New York, Paris, and Tel Aviv, founded their eponymous label in 2009, with the aim of designing fashion-forward pieces for confident and powerful women with an enviable sense of style. An array of curiosities, from a military medal found in a Palais-Royale store, a swatch of vintage Russian lace, or antique books became inspirations that formed the motifs of their first designs.
Today, Gaydamak pieces are modern reinterpretations of nature, Oriental patterns, and ancient architecture. The sisters met the owner of trendsetting luxury boutique Montaigne Market in Paris, who loved their pieces so much that she decided to stock them in the store. “This allowed us to produce more pieces and create a bigger collection,” says Sonia. “We went to a few more stores — Couture Lab and Frost in London, Le Bon Marche — and this is how Gaydamak started.”
The business quickly expanded overseas. “We ventured out to Russia, then Europe, then the Middle East. We are in Paris, London, St Tropez, Miami, the fashion hubs,” shares Sonia. “People want to wear Gaydamak because we are cool and different.” She reveals that it took the team close to two years to develop the hand bracelet technically, for comfort and visual appeal, and also for the right sizing. “For another three years, it was our main focus. We now have about 40 different designs, and the collection is still growing.”
The sisters decided to complement the line with chandelier earrings, cuff bracelets, ear cuffs, and cocktail rings. While most pieces were set with diamonds, they also played around with sapphires, emeralds, and rubies. One of their latest innovations is the diamond glove, which comes in two parts and is created in gold mesh linked by golden chains.
Hollywood’s big names soon started seeking out the sisters. “We’ve had Madonna, Salma Hayek, and Alicia Keys wear our hand bracelets. Alicia was photographed playing the piano with our bracelets on each hand,” says Sonia. “When you have people who are talented and trust you like that — who are happy to wear the pieces not because they are being paid but because they like it — it’s amazing.”
“Our goal is to embellish women to the point where you feel confident, even on the days that you don’t want to make an effort and are just wearing jeans and a T-shirt. Our pieces will give you instant confidence.” Sonia’s advice for her first-time clients is to buy one piece and see how it fits and feels. “Most of our clients are returning customers who like wearing our pieces.”
For the Gaydamak sisters, standing out is essential in jewellery. “The more people tell us a piece is crazy and not saleable, the more we want to do it. There are so many jewellery brands and so many beautiful pieces, and I respect them. But it’s a shame that people want do what everyone else is doing. We want to think outside the box.”