Lilly Zeligman is a one of a kind jeweler based in Oisterwijk, the Netherlands. With a history as an art dealer, she has a very different approach as a jeweler. She treats all her clients in her own unique way. Something that makes them come back for more! Here is her story:
Lilly Zeligman opened a unique jewelry store in a small town just underneath the Dutch city of Den Bosch. Her vivid eyes and genuine interest in people and places make her a wonderful warm person to engage with. She is a storyteller, a person with impeccable taste, and someone who will go through great lengths to make her clients feel at home.
People are fond of Lilly! Whether they are her clients or her business relations, she has a tendency to connect easily with the people around her! It’s how our friendship started too. During the September edition of VicenzaOro, I fell rather ill. I lost my voice and she was the one who came after me with soothing pills and powders. And while she was at it, she also took me along to some of her favorite brands and showed me the jewelry that excites her personally so much.
Our friendship started right there, and so I went to pay her a visit and see her magical store myself. Really, it feels like you are in a different world!
Esther: Lilly, you owned an art gallery before and now this gorgeous jewelry store in Oisterwijk. Tell us more!
Lilly: I moved from Laren to Oisterwijk 3 years ago. When I think about it, it seems unreal. But honestly, Oisterwijk became my HOME. I had an art gallery for more than 25 years, first in Schalkwijk, near Utrecht and then from 2000 onward, in Laren. Art is and always was, my world.
Since I was a little girl, I was fascinated by art. I never wanted to do anything else than being an art dealer. I believe that art can unite people. It connects them and educates them. I genuinely think it can even heal people. Art is not elitist, it belongs to everyone regardless of age or status. Through art, we understand the beauty and the wisdom that surrounds us. It is an enormous privilege to be able to do in life what you love the most. So I consider myself a privileged person.
My love for jewelry goes far back too. When I think again about how my passion for jewelry started, I can’t help thinking of pearls first. Pearls are, for me, the most beautiful creation of nature. They appear from the shell as they are, no man’s hand is contributing to their beauty. It’s one of nature’s biggest miracles, don’t you think? I can talk about the pearls for hours, but let’s do it on another occasion.:-)
The choice between the art dealer and jewelry creator wasn’t easy. At a certain point, I had to choose. The arts make up most of my daily life, it surrounds me 24/7. The choice of focusing on jewelry, however, doesn’t exclude art. My collection is influenced by art, the proportions, the color combinations, the material combinations.
Esther: Which brands do you carry and why?
Lilly: Vhernier is, at the moment, the only brand I carry in my boutique. I have a significant admiration for the craftsmanship, innovation, and timeless look of the jewelry. Vhernier’s designs are not influenced by trends.
Esther: You also create your own jewelry. How does that start for you? With a design, or with a gemstone? Take us, please, through your creative process.
Lilly: It all starts with a pearl or a gemstone, really. I can’t say I have a particular formula for my designs. Each piece is unique. It can be the color of a stone that catches my eye or the shape of it. It can just as well be the luster of the pearl being so irresistible that it makes you want to touch it!
I took this photo during my visit. A peal bracelet with a green turquoise clip in the middle. The color of this gemstone is amazing!
Once I have the gemstone in my collection, I take the time to study it, to play with it, combining it with other stones. I love to work with interchangeable systems allowing the wearer to create a different look according to her or his mood, occasion, or outfit. Mix and match are essential to me. It’s exciting to see how the same gemstone in different combination changes in appearance.
Esther: Your clients have lots to choose from, but today many love the idea of a personalized piece of jewelry. What services do you offer for them?
Lilly: As a matter of fact, all my jewelry is personalized, custom-made. As aforementioned, my collection consists of only unique pieces. In addition to that, I’m focusing on restyling heirloom jewelry. Valuable pieces are often passed down from generation to generation. Unfortunately, those unique pieces all too often end up in a jewelry box and stay there. Together with the client, I start a new chapter in the life of that jewel so that it can be worn again with a renewed sense of love and pride.
Esther: Who are the artists in art, music, literature, jewelry, and fashion that inspire you?
Lilly: Ohhh, It’s a difficult choice, Esther! My love for all kinds of arts is unlimited. I don’t have one favorite style.
Esther: How does a day in the life of Lilly look like?
Lilly: Every day is a new day :-)! I start my day by walking my dog. And enjoying seeing her run and play, sniffing her way around. If I am in Oisterwijk, I open my boutique at 10 am. There is not a strict routine in my business. The clients come in to collect their orders, to discuss a new project, to drink a cup of “real’ Italian espresso, and talk about any subject that comes up.
During the day, I concentrate on running my boutique and looking after my customers. It’s during the quiet moments after work or also often in bed when the lights are out when fresh ideas for new designs pop up in my mind. I walk on Sundays, my free day, go to the gym twice a week, read and listen to music in the evening. Did you know that I don’t have a TV? No? It surprises most of the people!
Esther: You weren’t born in the Netherlands, would you take us through your journey of how you ended up in this country?
Lilly: I was born in Riga (Latvia), and at the age of 18, I moved to Israel, where I lived and studied in Jerusalem for 6 years. I came to the Netherlands for a vacation in the summer of 1978. And today, I am still celebrating life in the country that has become my homeland!
Esther: Who are your clients? How would you describe them?
Lilly: Most of my clients have enjoyed a form of high(er) education and are more often than not; 40+. They travel around the world, have an interest in art, politics, history. They recognize the quality and beauty of the jewelry in my store based on their gained knowledge and insights. It’s not based on awareness about a particular brand, it’s all about the piece of jewelry itself! Think about that; they recognize something in it that resonates with their educated love for beauty!
Esther: Your jewelry is mostly on the higher-end, but isn’t necessarily classic. Your taste is impeccable, but how do you cater to a younger clientele. Are they able to find you online, on social media, and what kind of jewelry in your store is especially appealing to them?
Lilly: That is very true! Most of my clientele is 40+, and that is why I am consulting young people about building a platform for a younger audience. My jewelry is timeless and ageless. The young people are as excited in my boutique as the older ones. As I don’t follow the trends but rather; my taste and intuition, I can offer a younger person a piece of jewelry that will reflect her/his personality. For this group of clients, I have a range of jewelry that is lower in price but certainly not lower in originality or quality! Come and see, I would say ( note from Esther: you should!)
Esther: You have mentioned the brands that you carry; which brands would you love to carry too if money wasn’t an option?
Lilly: Besides Vhernier? More by Alessio Boschi, Crivelli, Gorgoglione! For the future, I'm thinking about Antonini, Pasquale Bruni, and Chantecler. I may discover a new exciting designer during my next visit to the trade fair.
Esther: What are the trends that you personally observed in the latest trade shows?
Lilly: What I notice from year to year is the fantastic color trends. Last year there was this re-discovery of morganite and all other hues of pink. This year it’s blue, and the ‘crush’ on Paraiba is incredible. Most people never heard of the stone and can’t even imagine how rare and precious it really is! I also noticed the silver jewelry in higher couture brands. Something that probably is related in some way with the ever-rising prices of gold.
Esther: What can you tell us about the very striking and unusual interior design of your store?
Lilly: When I decided to concentrate on jewelry and moved to Oisterwijk, I wanted to make a statement, to show who I am. Not by telling a story about myself but showing it with colors. My idea of a jewelry boutique. I want to give everyone who enters my world a warm welcome and feeling of the sense of coming home.
See, I love to share, and I hope that the interior just reflects that part of my character.
Esther: What do you love to do when you are not working?
Lilly: Oh, Esther, my work is my passion! I realize how fortunate I am to have the job I love most! Besides being obsessed with the beauty of any kind, I love walking, cooking, and going to the movies, oh, and reading. I love dancing too. However, I know that in Oisterwijk, I don’t get too many chances to do that ;-)
''What if money was no option. How would your world, your collection, your store look like''? I asked Lilly and she answered: ''very much the same with just some small additions :-)''
Esther: Share with us where and when people can find you, Lilly, in your store:
Lilly: My boutique is opened from Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. till 6 p.m. If I am not in the boutique, it means I am on the plane to or from Italy ;-)
Address of Lilly Zeligman in Oisterwijk, the Netherlands:
De Lind 4, 5061 HW Oisterwijk
+31 (0)6 - 543 877 79
+31 (0)13 - 207 76 00