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Intercontinental Flair: Moonshined Designs

Moonshined is an eco-friendly jewellery line created by New York native-cum-California Girl-cum Parisienne, Cate Rubenstein. Cate is a fascinating woman, who chatted about her gift tables at the Golden Globes, enthused about Paris Fashion Weeks, and dished the dirt on a celeb couple she had dinner with recently….off the record, of course!

On the record, she chatted with Eluxe at the eternally chic Cafe de Flore in St Germain, Paris, about French tastes, democratic fashion, and ethics.


IMG_0292Why did you decide to become an ethical jeweller? 

It really wasn’t a conscious thought, but when I started getting big orders and looking into production- all I found was child labor. So I thought, “Well. Of course I’m not doing THAT. So what does something else look like? And what is that?” I wish I could say it was all part of my plan, but the plan sort of found me, though I couldn’t be happier. I majored in Philosophy as an undergrad, and was for a brief time planning a career in Ethics, so it feels pretty right to me to have that sort of come full circle. I also studied multi-cultural issues in Psychology as a grad student, and then planned a career “serving underserved populations ” as they called it- so again, it feels like all these disparate parts and interests suddenly found themselves together for the first time in all my thoughts about how to do what I wanted to do in life. Which is basically, do something good, hopefully make a positive difference.

photo (27)Why the move to Paris? 

I was getting a lot of interest in bringing the line here, but importing it from the US to Paris was a big impediment to buyers. So I decided, ok great. I’ll import me! Plus I always wanted to live in Paris and be surrounded by so much beauty.

How are French tastes different from Californian tastes, and how do you cater to both customers? 

It’s really interesting seeing how tastes vary on different continents!

My Californian customers like the biggest, boldest, chunkiest statement pieces I have, and they buy a lot of the older collection (which is understandable- it was influenced by life in LA) which is more about things being noticeable than it is about being ‘luxury’ or ‘discreet’.

My French customers love the really tiny, finer pieces I’ve done since living here, which reflect more of a French sensibility–the pieces are much quieter, and almost melt into the wearer to become part of them, rather than broadcast a style statement far and wide. I like that the line has range, and offers both. I try to have something available in many price ranges- I’m very inspired by the democratization of luxury that’s occurred in recent years, and don’t think someone not having a fortune to spend means they can’t have good design. If you are a good designer, you should be able to design something beautiful in any medium. I’m happy I have customers who respond to both collections, and I hope to be able to keep designing for both aesthetics, as well as others, as I continue to travel and expand the offerings.

Where do you source your materials from?

I only use ethical suppliers, and am as involved as I possibly can be in making sure we never deviate from that. Sometimes it takes a lot longer to get materials, and I hate that. But I’d rather do it right than do it without integrity, and I’m very fortunate my clients feel the same way. I hope that over time, enough people believing in this will change fashion’s direction.

Which jewellery trends are you seeing for 2013? 

A lot of my customers in France, like Paris based CJ Tours, are asking for pieces with tiny gems, as seen in many of my earrings. I’m also seeing a lot of tribal themes, though that happens in fashion every spring! And a lot of color, for which I’m grateful. Jewelry is supposed to be ornamental, and sometimes a pop of color does wonders to boost the mood!




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