Guya Merkle is the founder and designer of the German Ethical jewelry label VIERI.
We met with the inspiring designer who never wanted to work in jewelry but inherited her fathers retail business at the age of 21. we had a talk about turning the company into her own with an ethical and sustainable mission and about establishing The Earthbeat Foundation.
Why did you become a jewelry designer
I actually never wanted to work in jewelry, as my family did and I wanted to do something completely different. But after the sudden death of my father, I felt not just responsible for the company, but for my family’s entire life work. I inherited my father’s jewelry retail business at the age of 21.
It turned out that I was more connected than I thought I was. Consequently, I decided to go to London and study at the GIA. This is where my passion for jewelry design evolved. What I especially found out was that creating beautiful ethical jewelry that made a positive impact on the world was my path.
I realized that it’s more than the jewelry that motivates the ambitious designer. Guya Merkle founded The Earthbeat Foundation, a not-for-profit foundation, with an aim to change the gold mining industry into a better and more human place for the workers.
We channel three percent of Vieri’s overall profit to the Earthbeat foundation, and in the long run that does make a diference.
Describe the design DNA of VIERI?
I always find this question a tough one. I don’t have this classic red line in my designs. My sources of inspiration are women and especially the roles women take on in the modern world. And I am definitely inspired by my Italian roots. I love the Italian women. Especially the femininity, the passion, the emotions. The grandezza an italian expression, which is filled with personality, spirit and female power.
What do you dream about
I know it might sound like a cliche but my dream is very classic.
I dream about living by the sea someday having a very special little space for family and friends. A little creative hub far away from everything stressful.
Describe a perfect day for you?It starts with sleeping longer than 6 am (I have a little child). I love Sundays with my family. Having a cosy breakfast with a lot of candles on the table and some good music on. Going for a walk to meet some friends. Having a little me time while going to my Yoga lessons and at the end bringing my little one to bed and having a glass of wine with his dad on our lovely balcony. Very easy and just perfect!
Do you have a crazy habit?I literally lose every sunglass I have. I am quite chaotic!
What is your guilty pleasure?Definitely shoes. Way too many shoes. Some of them I just buy to look at them – I love shoes!
What is your must-have jewelry?
Bangles. I just love Bangles.
And the watch of my dad, it feels so special wearing his watch I feel he’s with me every day.
Do you have something you can’t live without?My job and my family.
What would your occupation be if you weren’t a jewelry designer?
I would be an entrepreneur thinking of which social business could make this world a better place.
What is your biggest achievement in your jewelry career?
I would say, it is the connection to sustainable luxury. And to be known for that. That makes me very proud. And of course, that Emma Watson is wearing Vieri Jewelry, that’s really something.
What would you do if you won a million dollars?
I would buy this very special house at the sea and the rest would go into my foundation.