Maria Cossutta is an artisanal jewelry maker based in Monaco. Originally from Belarus, Maria lived in Dubai for 10 years working as a model before making her way to the French Riviera. Her beautiful, hand-made jewelry immediately caught our eye and we were curious to learn more about her life, work, inspiration, and style.
Maria is pictured wearing her R. Culturi scarves.
Our column is called “Your Style is Your Story” and the first thing we would like to ask you is – how would you define your personal style?
I would like to think that people consider me a classy girl. It’s all about femininity and elegance rather than sex appeal. To me, classy is when a woman has everything to flaunt but chooses not to show it. That is why you will hardly ever find any selfies in my Instagram account!
Why does this style suit you and your personality? How has your taste evolved over time?
My style is classic and conservative and so are my values in life. I believe in education, books, grand pianos, family, loyalty, decency, kindness – all the traditional virtues. I think the world is still based on that, even though so many people nowadays try to be someone else with the help of excessive medicine and designer clothes and bags. I don’t mind as long as there is more to a person than their clothes. If they are only about that then I lose interest.
I also don’t mind keeping it simple and although now I live in Monaco, I don’t feel that I need to always be in high heels. I love walking around town and going for a run along a beautiful path overlooking the sea in Cap D’Ail. It’s hard to take in the beauty of the Riviera if you’re constantly thinking about your high heels. I went to Cap D’Ail once on a foggy morning – black leggings, a ponytail, no makeup whatsoever and there was a guy walking with a saxophone, probably coming back from some party. He saw me and began playing “The Shadow of Your Smile”. It still gives me goose bumps! It was arguably the most beautiful compliment I had ever received. Certainly the most classy one! And I couldn’t have looked more simple than I did that morning.
Are there any fads that you’ve fallen victim to?
Plenty, I’m sure, but nothing dramatic.
What items will you never leave home without?
My iPhone – with an app to count steps (to make sure I get at least 10,000 a day) and one to run my jewelry shop. It makes this charming sound of coins ringing in a coffer each time an item in my shop is sold. It’s music to my heart!
Previously, you worked as a model in Dubai and now are involved in jewelry making and production. How did you come to this, and why this choice?
I guess the two activities are related in the sense that for a long time I was surrounded by creative people who appreciated beauty and art in all their forms. I personally have loved crafts from an early age. There was a 6 month period when I was already in Monaco but my residency/work permit was still pending. I had plenty of free time which I was mostly spending online. I came across a website where people sold their handmade jewelry. With the exception of a few artisans’ shops, most of the products were poorly made and I thought “People buy this?! Even I could make something better!”. It took some time but eventually that was exactly what I did.
By the time my documents were ready I was fully involved in jewelry making and couldn’t think of any other job.
Can you tell us about the type of jewelry that you create? What guides or inspires you in your work?
I wouldn’t put it this way. I’d rather say “what limits you in your work?”. Lack of gemological or fine arts education. I wish I had one! There is only so much that you can do by yourself and I try to make the most of it. My gemstone cluster bracelets (made of gemstone beads weaved together) have proved to be very popular among my clients – and this success has been extremely inspiring.
I constantly look for ways to surprise my customers with products they already like. I often play around with different combinations of colors. It is quite easy when you use genuine gemstones – nature has already done the work for you. I love combining opaque and clear stones of the same colour group to enhance the colour and add sparkle (rich turquoise diluted with clear blue topaz, mysterious fog of lavender quartz with morning dew drops of pink amethyst, jet-black spinel with dramatic dark blood red garnet for that femme fatale impact, and so on).
And of course I always keep an eye on the latest jewellery trends for inspiration.
There is no question that your work is of very high caliber and the pieces are extremely beautiful. What makes your products distinctive or unique?
Their value for the money. Very few artisans working in my category use natural gemstones of such high quality. You would normally find them at high-end jewelry houses with a hefty price tag attached.
You have been operating Maria Cossutta Monaco for two years now. What are your plans for the business and the brand?
I didn’t even realize it became a brand! I still see it as my hobby rather than business. Business means obligations and commitments. I am not sure I want to take them on for the sake of higher profits. I want to be free and happy, and the way everything is now gives me just that. But you never know, there is potential. Maybe one day I will want to take it to the higher level.
You live in Monaco, one of the most luxurious places in the world. What do you like about living here? Is there anything that annoys you?
I love everything about Monaco! We enjoy one of the best climates in the world and the geographical location makes it easy to travel anywhere you want. I feel close to my parents who are only a 3 hour flight away. Monaco is very beautiful too – the landscape, the people, the events, the cars. The architecture may be a bit dated (apart from the gorgeous Casino Square) and there is mismatch of architectural styles, but they have been introducing a lot of changes recently. Some buildings from the 70s were knocked down and new ones are being built. I do really love the 19th century architecture that you catch a glimpse of every once in a while.
The healthcare is great – at 89.57 years, the Monegasque have by far the highest average life expectancy in the world! There are defibrillators every 700 meters in the streets! The annoying thing is, you may actually need one when you find out the cost of renting an apartment here – prices are outrageous.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
To be honest, making jewelry occupies my time entirely right now. I travel quite often and I always bring my work with me. Even when I work out (and I go to the gym nearly every day) I can’t stop thinking about it – what my next project will be and which new gemstones I have to buy. The latter is a particularly sensitive subject. Quality gemstones are expensive toys. You can’t just buy what you like, you have to buy what you will be able to sell later on. Not always an easy task!
You’ve lived in Belarus, Dubai, Paris and Monaco. You’ve worked in numerous industries and travelled the world. Now you own and manage a successful, growing business. What keeps you grounded?
The way my parents brought me up does. They are incredible people – educated, selfless, loving, and kind to everyone. Without any loud words, they live the life most people preach in those deep Facebook posts. I feel so lucky to have them. I never had any illusions about so-called luxury life. To me it only has value if you are living it with your loved ones. Totally pointless otherwise.
Are there any rules or principles by which you are guided?
I try not to take anything too seriously. Anything except ignorance and injustice. It pisses me off completely and I always fight for the truth. I must say, that created me a fare share of troubles in the past. I also learned to stay away from people who believe that “whoever said money can’t buy happiness didn’t know where to shop”.
To end on a philosophical note – what is the most important thing in life, in your opinion?
Love, of course. Nothing has meaning without love. Except chocolate that is!