Shop Talk

The Family Jeweler 2.0

A sparkling partnership between a scion of European jewelry-design royalty and an expert in state-of-the-art e-commerce, the online jewelry boutique RenéSim is redefining how we acquire the glittering baubles that make our lives shine.

Renesim Portrait
Co-founders of RenéSim, Maximilian Hemmerle (left) and Georg Schmidt-Sailer, combined their respective expertise in jewelry and e-commerce to launch their online boutique five years ago. Top: The jeweler’s two-carat emerald-cut diamond ring set in platinum.

For Maximilian Hemmerle, co-founder of the Munich-based online jewelry boutique RenéSim, there was no escaping his destiny: His father, Franz Hemmerle, comes from a family of esteemed Munich jewelers, while his maternal grandfather was René Sim Lacaze, the celebrated Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry designer responsible for some of the most iconic jewelry of the 20th century.

Despite spending nearly every Saturday of his childhood in the family store in Munich, however, Hemmerle, now 34, didn’t intend to work in the jewelry business. He studied sociology at university and was working in marketing and advertising when he met his future business partner, Georg Schmidt-Sailer, through a mutual friend some six years ago. A freelance IT expert, Schmidt-Sailer, 39 and originally from Vienna, specialized in e-commerce, mainly for start-up companies. After discovering they were wearing the exact same type of shoe by the Viennese company Ludwig Reiter, the two men bonded over a love of quality craftsmanship.

As Hemmerle shared his family history, the discussion sparked the idea of combining his professional heritage with Schmidt-Sailer’s digital knowledge to create an online jewelry boutique. “Jewelry was not really my piece of cake initially,” Schmidt-Sailer says, “but I could see the potential of offering very fine, beautifully conceived and crafted contemporary jewelry online.”

Flower Earrings
Flower Ear Clips have gemstone petals — in blue sapphire, tanzanite, aquamarine and lilac amethyst — surrounding a brilliant-cut diamond center.

Talking to Schmidt-Sailer, Hemmerle came to appreciate all that he had absorbed from his father, who had worked in the family business for 33 years, and from his grandfather, who after retiring had focused on painting, producing watercolor land- and seascapes until his death in 2000 at the age of 99. “I had the chance to know him and speak to him about jewelry,” says Hemmerle. “He taught me how to paint, but also how to appreciate beauty, how to feel and express. And he taught me the pleasure of gemstones.”

Indeed, when the pair began visiting gem dealers in the early days of their venture, Hemmerle was often able to home in on those stones among hundreds that turned out to be the rarest and most precious. “It’s an intangible gift,” says Schmidt-Sailer. “Distinguishing between a good stone and an outstanding specimen is an instinct.”

Hemmerle and Schmidt-Sailer launched their site five years ago, naming it RenéSim in homage to Hemmerle’s grandfather. Their offerings comprise three main categories: prêt-a-porter collections; classic diamonds, including bridal jewelry and engagement rings; and customized jewelry. Hemmerle designs all the pieces and says, “My dream was always to unzip the file of creativity inside myself. When I need to, I ping-pong design ideas back and forth with my father.”

 

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“My dream was always to unzip the file of creativity inside myself.” 


Hemmerle consults with clients in person at the company’s Munich offices before designing bespoke pieces, which can take up to three months to fully realize.

RenéSim’s designs are stylized yet spirited, with refined details, fine proportions, minimal settings and well-cut gemstones. They embody a new kind of luxury: less showy and status-oriented and more about quiet, personal pleasure. Prêt-a-porter collections include “Flowers” (simple, stylized multi-gem blossoms), “Rocks” (strong, streamlined cocktail rings highlighting a central colored gemstone); and “Character” (inspired by calligraphy). In the classic diamonds category, single-stone studs and pendants accompany solitaire diamond engagement rings. With the “demi-couture” approach, customers can select their own diamonds and customize the design, adhering to RenéSim’s philosophy of “individuality on demand.”

It is, Hemmerle and Schmidt-Sailer believe, closer to the way in which jewelry was traditionally made — individualized, by a personal family goldsmith. And, indeed, highly skilled craftsmen working in small ateliers in Germany and Italy make every piece of RenéSim by hand. “We wanted to overcome the associations of the online jeweler,” says Hemmerle. “That term sounds cheap and quick. It was time for something new.”

Customers are welcome to visit the RenéSim office in Munich to see samples or discuss bespoke commissions. The pair pride themselves on providing a fast and flexible service: Customizing a ring, for example, may take just two weeks, and they can even whip something up in 24 hours if a client has a special event. More complex, bespoke commissions can take between one and two months to design and a month to handcraft. “It is how clients like to approach a traditional jeweler, but more discreet, intimate and without having to come to the shop several times,” says Hemmerle. “The purchase, and design can be worked on at home.”

Today, Hemmerle and Schmidt-Sailer are planning ways to expand RenéSim without compromising this personal touch — using advanced software to improve images and on-screen presentations, for example, and to speed up customer service and administration. At the same time, they are working on a signature prêt-a-porter collection to define their young, but fast-developing brand. Building the future while honoring the past, this duo would make René Sim Lacaze proud.


Talking Points

Maximilian Hemmerle shares his thoughts on a few choice pieces offered by RenéSim.

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    RenéSim Blue Freesia Brooch

    An homage to nature, both in theme and material. I very much enjoyed the close collaboration with our customer on this special commission. The process of finding three perfect tanzanites; searching for the perfect artisan to carve the amethyst; and working with the goldsmith, one of the finest specialists in floral jewelry in Europe, was a pleasurable challenge. Many people were involved in the creation of this brooch — we really worked very hard together over a long time to make it perfect. And now it is! We also produced a booklet about the making of this exceptional piece.
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    RenéSim Diamond Necklace

    Creating this unique piece together with our customer took us six months. I visited him with the first stone in Berlin, and then we met regularly with the goldsmith in Munich until finally I delivered the necklace to him, personally, in Berlin on the day of his wife’s 50th birthday. The client said that for him it was an investment in the love of his life, but I believe it will also prove to be a wise business investment if you look at rising diamond prices. When I delivered the jewel, I was also invited to the birthday party, as a special surprise guest — a beautiful gesture, as our customer allowed me to share in that breathtaking moment when he gave his wife the necklace. Now we have an ongoing friendship!
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    ReneSim Moonstone Sparkling Bloom Ring

    I had never seen facetted moonstones like this before. I like to think we were pretty courageous in trying new routes in gemstone cutting, and luckily it worked. This is a one-of-a-kind piece, a special edition of our "Flowers" collection, and I love the combination created in this item, which was a special commission for a passionate moonstone lover. At first, the customer was very skeptical about this idea, but now she loves it and wears the ring almost every day, which is the greatest compliment for Renésim.
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    RenéSim Brilliant Ring with 77 Diamonds

    This customer had told us that 77 was her lucky number, so we set this ring with 77 beautiful and perfectly cut brilliants. We also ensured that the surface was given a matte finish, so that it made a perfect match for her favorite Patek Philippe watch.
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    RenéSim Amethyst Rose Gold Cocktail Ring

    I designed this style of cocktail ring to have all the elements of a true contemporary classic: strength, boldness, modernity and, hopefully, timelessness. I wanted the design to showcase each hand-chosen colored gemstone that it might feature, but I particularly love this combination of colors, the amethyst with the rose gold. It has proved popular with our customers, including one or two celebrities. I love it!
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    RenéSim Ruby Diamond Ring

    I created this engagement ring for one of my oldest and closest friends. His fiancée is a delicate and interesting-looking woman — classic, with that extra “certain something.” She loves diamonds and is also addicted to the color red. So we felt there could be no other choice for the most important ring of her life.
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    RenéSim Platinum Earrings with Topaz and Sapphires

    The idea for this design came to me in Club Dauphin in St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, which is one of the most beautiful places I know. I was on summer holiday, had just ordered a glass of rosé wine and was looking out over the rocks and the beautiful blue Mediterranean, truly the Cote d´Azur. I thought, we just have to create something really special with this color. Ten minutes later, after discussing it with my wife, I had scribbled the design on a napkin.
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