Prince Dimitri fashions bold, spectacular jewelry for 21st-century nobility.
By Sarah Arison
Fifteen stories above the bustle of Midtown Manhattan is a sanctuary from the rest of the world. Once inside the double security doors of Prince Dimitri’s atelier, time stands still, and art, beauty and culture are the only things of importance. The walls are covered with stunning photographs of princesses and queens from every country in a dazzling array of some of the most magnificent jewelry in history. The shelves are lined with books written in every language referencing civilizations across the globe. However, all of these objects pale in comparison to the spectacular pieces of jewelry that are on display in the rich purple cases on the walls.
To call Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia a jeweler is akin to calling the Palace of Versailles a house—which is an appropriate metaphor, since Versailles was his childhood home. The photos on the walls are his family—royalty from every country—and many of the jewels that he has used in his pieces have been handed down through the generations. While Prince Dimitri can trace his lineage back to Charlemagne, Louis XIV, the Medicis and the Romanovs, his experience with his family’s jewelry collection is not what drove him to his current career, he says. “Jewelry is my destiny. I was born with a passion for gems.” Certainly, he has an aesthetic approach that is unlike anything in the world today. Renowned jewelry historian and author Vivienne Becker notes, “At a time when culture and taste are defining the fast-growing international world of jewelry, Prince Dimitri stands out as the ultimate contemporary connoisseur.”
While he has crafted boutique lines for luxury department stores, he revels in creating truly unique, one-of-a-kind pieces tailored to individual clients, such as Carolina Herrera and Anne Hearst, among other royalty and celebrities. His approach to jewelry is revolutionary in every way, from the materials he uses—includingDamascus steel, leather and wood—to what he feels women should be buying today: “It is time for new, modern things, for a new look in jewelry, and that is precisely what I do. My style is bold, young and very chic all at the same time, and completely different from anything out there.” One of the most interesting parts of his business is the bespoke pieces that he does, often using reclaimed stones. “A lot of my friends have inherited jewels or gems that look dated. They bring them to me and I design something completely new, modern and fabulous.
I have been shown quite a few polite engagement rings and have turned them into amazing, sexy objects.” The process in having a piece remade is almost as extraordinary as the final outcome itself. The customer spends time with Prince Dimitri in his atelier, sipping tea and discussing different cultures, history, astrology and symbols. After a number of sketches done by Dimitri himself, the jewels are sent to the finest artisans across the world, resulting in the most personal and lavish pieces of wearable art a woman can own. As Prince Dimitri states, “A lady who has it all really wants to have something made only for her. True luxury is having something unique, not what everybody else has.”