Before Vivian Grimes built her own brand, she spent time building them for other people. For three years, the 27-year-old entrepreneur worked in the venture capital industry at California-based direct-marketing firm Guthy-Renker Ventures.
While there, she helped catapult celebrity-led companies like Jennifer Lopez’s JLo Beauty and Cindy Crawford’s Meaningful Beauty. Though she was relatively new to the industry, she worked hard and amassed a wealth of experience that provided the know-how to set her own business plan in motion. A year and a half ago, she returned to her hometown of Naples and launched Henri Noël Fine Jewelry, an e-commerce retailer with a local showroom.
While tons of social media influencers identify as jewelry makers, Grimes is no dilettante. She grew up surrounded by the business—her father and grandfather have owned Naples-based Certified Jewelers for more than 15 years and have 40 years of industry experience.
Even before launching the brand, she was always advising friends and family on engagement ring pricing, which stones to avoid, and the best cuts and settings. When she started getting inquiries from people outside of her inner circle, she transitioned from her career in marketing to create a one-stop shop that offers education, expertise and access to fine jewelry at an affordable price point—at first, with a focus on engagement rings.
Grimes took her grandfather’s name, Henri, and combined it with Noël, a name that represents rebirth, for the label’s moniker. As a third-generation jeweler, she reimagines the craft for a modern consumer that is interested in a more laid-back approach to luxury, responsible shopping and pieces with a story. “There’s so much beauty in simplicity,” Grimes says. Some of her designs are complemented by a signature crown logo. “Crowns exude confidence, exemplifying the strength a woman shows in her life each and every day,” she says.
The collection draws from her own active lifestyle. She recalls the diamonds-by-the-inch necklace—a strand of diamonds set an inch apart—that her father designed for her, and which she’d wear as a high school student at Community School of Naples, where she played basketball and ran track. Her collection now sports its own diamonds-by-the-inch pieces, done with a bezel setting—among the most secure ways to hold a stone. And, Henri Noël has grown to include a full roster of designs that are instant classics, such as drop station necklaces, paper clip bracelets, tennis necklaces, stackable eternity bands, thread earrings and single-diamond adjustable necklaces that can be worn long or as a choker. “I really harp on the idea that it’s jewelry you can wear every day,” she says.
Most of these feature dainty diamonds that are 1 carat or smaller. Subtle details, like easy-to-use lobster claw clasps and a necklace detangler Grimes thought essential to solve the terrible tangles that come with layered looks, reinforce the brand’s wearability.
Working out of her family’s Certified Jewelers, Grimes designs every piece, and many of them are handcrafted on-site (since the brand has grown, some pieces are made in New York), effectively cutting out middlemen and lowering costs. Grimes only sources natural—never lab-grown—diamonds from Israel and parts of South America, and the relationships her family has built with wholesalers over four decades help Grimes maintain quality while keeping prices accessible to young professionals. She also likes to break down vintage and other discarded jewels and turn them into new creations—another way she’s able to mind costs.
Her prices may be lower than other fine jewelry brands, but Grimes isn’t interested in fast fashion. These designs are meant to be worn daily and kept forever—which is perhaps why she counts as many grandmothers as granddaughters among her clientele. A recent collection, inspired in part by her niece, extends on this to include kids, with mini-me bracelets, studs and necklaces.
And while Grimes is happy to provide guidance via digital appointments and finalize details for custom designs over live chat, she can also provide an in-person experience at her Naples showroom, where she inspects every diamond and every final piece. Before releasing new designs, Grimes road tests them for durability and comfort by wearing each for four to six weeks. Of course, there have been some disappointments along the way. “Not everything we’ve made has been a winner,” she explains with a laugh. “I have a whole drawer of items that never got my approval.”
Final designs that do pass muster are quick to be embraced by the stylish Neapolitans, who Grimes is grateful to count among her customers: “We have an outstanding community that supports local versus mass production,” she says. Plus, the fact that so many residents are as physically active as they are engaged in elegant social affairs means her “jewelry goes in all circumstances.”