I first met Colin Cowie last week at a jewelry media preview in New York City, hosted by Platinum Guild International USA (PGI-USA). We’d spoken briefly on the phone about ten years ago when I was researching an article, but I didn’t bother mentioning that to Mr. Cowie, as I knew he wouldn’t remember. After all, he’s a busy guy—party planner to the stars, author of 11 books and, when it comes to designing elegant and interesting weddings, in particular, one of the most recognized experts in the world.
Colin Cowie, recently named a spokesman for Platinum Guild International USA (PGI-USA), is an internationally renowned wedding and event planner, design consultant, author of 11 books, and television personality.
For that reason alone, Mr. Cowie’s recent alliance with PGI-USA as a spokesman, is a good fit--or, as he put it, during my exclusive video interview with him for INSTORE, “It’s a great marriage. My work is timeless and elegant and chic and sexy, and platinum’s qualities are the same: timeless, elegant, chic, and sexy. Platinum also has a very modern, clean edge to it.”
The thing is, Mr. Cowie isn’t just another high-profile name attached to a product—he’s genuinely passionate about fine workmanship in platinum, and he has a clear, strong aesthetic. Because I’ve been doing this for many years, I can spot that kind of thing in minutes—and last week, I spent probably 45 minutes talking with Colin Cowie. Before shooting the InStore video interview, the two of us walked around together, looking at the several hundred platinum rings, jewelry, and fashion that the Platinum Guild had collected for the day to show the press. I intentionally tried to keep my typical commentary on the jewelry to myself—instead choosing to watch and listen to him. He’d pick up a ring, necklace, or pair of earrings and say things like, “See this? Look at the detail. It’s beautifully done. And it has great value, not only because it’s platinum, but because it’s artistically crafted.”
His communication style is like that of a good educator—or an effective jewelry store sales associate. At one point, he picked up an engagement ring with an unusual thin swirled shank. It was a design by Danhov Abbraccio that PGI categorized as “entry level platinum,” based on its $2,420 retail—and Mr. Cowie said, “Look at how simple but elegant this is. A man doesn’t have to spend an enormous amount of money to get a woman a very special engagement ring that will always be in fashion.” A few minutes later, he pointed out a bold fashion ring and said, “To me, this ring has a traditional Ottoman feeling.” Indeed, as I noted the engraved pattern on the dome, it did invoke images of perhaps an ancient mosque.
Naturally, after about 20 minutes of this kind of exchange, I asked Mr. Cowie if he had an art or architectural background. “The history of art,” he answered.
In my video interview that followed, he continued to talk about other platinum designs—some with vintage inspired elements, others with a modern classic appeal. But, above all, timeless and elegant platinum designs were the essence of my conversation with Colin Cowie. Here are some excerpts from that video interview:
Q: When you pointed out many platinum bridal rings today, you were authentically inspired.
A: Well, yes--for one thing, there’s no such thing as a wedding without a ring!
Q: And you were equally enthusiastic about entry level rings as with mid-price to very high-end designs.
A: Women and men need to understand that an engagement ring doesn’t have to have a big stone. I really believe the ring should have timeless elegance—that’s what’s important. And, obviously, precious platinum metal itself has that innate timeless elegance.
Q: What was that “hairstyle analogy” you used, when talking about an engagement ring?
A: [He laughs.] You never want to have a hairdo on your wedding day that is so intricate or so fashionable that, when you look at your wedding pictures in 20 years, you’ll ask, “what was I thinking!” In the same way, woman should choose an engagement ring and wedding band that will always look good.
Q. But there is one particularly popular engagement ring design that you say is both timeless and on-trend?
A. Yes, more and more contemporary brides are choosing center stones for their engagement rings that aren’t white diamonds. And that has become increasingly stronger since Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton and gave her his mother’s engagement ring, the oval blue sapphire and diamond ring that was the engagement ring of his mother, Princess Diana, when she became engaged to Prince Charles [in 1981]. That sparked the trend for blue sapphire center stones, and then colored diamonds and other colored gemstones.
Q: The Duchess of Cambridge aside, of course . . . you believe that a woman should choose her own engagement ring.
A: Yes, with the exception of Kate Middleton, of course! Unless the groom has extraordinary taste, I believe that a bride should be part of the process—she should be involved, with her fiancé, in the selection of her ring. In the same way that a woman wouldn’t make the guest list or select the wine or music for the wedding day without the groom being part of the process. So my advice to jewelers is to let the woman make the choice! It’s something she’s going to wear for the rest of her life.
Q. When it comes to earrings, you say today’s bride can wear anything from small studs to long drops.
A: Yes, I like a small stud when a bride is wearing her hair down and loose, but when the hair is swept up, I think a long but delicate platinum and diamond style is perfect—very red carpet-worthy and also just the right amount of bling for a bride’s special wedding day.