Caroline Van Hoek

Maryanna Estomba

Get to know this doyenne of collectible jewelry

“I don't like to talk too much about myself, neither about the past,” reveals jewelry artist Caroline Van Hoek when asked to discuss her career trajectory. Luckily, her exceptional jewelry designs—including a collection inspired by the furniture of Mathieu Matégot—need few words to appreciate.

Van Hoek ventured into the fascinating world of collectible jewelry in 2007 with the launch of her namesake gallery in Brussels, dedicated to highlighting important and rare jewelry and the artists behind it. Her collaboration with Design Miami/ began in 2011, with her gallery’s first showing at the fair. Then we asked her to join our Vetting Committee to help authenticate the growing body of jewelry included in our program.

A passion for the craft of jewelry-making together with a fruitless search to find the type of jewelry she desired led her to take a seat at the workbench and create her own pieces. Here, Caroline shares more about her journey from gallerist to creator and her thoughts on collectibles—jewelry and otherwise.

Mathieu Matégot Necklace & Bracelet by Caroline Van Hoek for Carpenters Workshop Gallery. Photo © Caroline Van Hoek

What inspires you?

Everything—materials, architecture, furniture, food, fashion, people, cinema, nature, landscapes, art…

What’s on your desk right now?

A lot. I always have many projects going on at the same time. I need diversity to fight boredom and spark interest.

What sparked your interest in jewelry?

My mother. She only wore brand name jewelry, which I found to be boring as a teenager. I looked around and found something different. But now, as an adult, I do appreciate some iconic brand pieces.

How does jewelry fit into the world of collectible design?

Everything is collectible. But there is no better piece of jewelry than one that was passed down in your family from generation to generation—whatever the market value. Mothers should encourage this. This idea always plays so prominently in romantic movies—a sign that it’s a practice that should be kept alive.

The first necklace that Caroline Van Hoek created. Photo © Caroline Van Hoek

What’s the difference between collectible jewelry and fine jewelry?

It's in the eye of the beholder. But the market offers a clear sign of what is collectible or not. Collectors have the power to generate interest in the market. 

For those that are new to collectible jewelry, how should they begin?

Visit galleries, fairs, museums, exhibitions, and workshops for at least a year before buying. Educate yourself, establish a clear vision and strategy, and then start buying. 

What makes a piece of jewelry exceptional?

Again, that is very personal. There are various aspects like emotion, value, the artist, or a preference for the material.

How did you start making your own jewelry?

When I closed my gallery, I fell into what felt like a blank space and found solace at my workbench. 

Person that captures the essence of the jewelry you make:

Peggy Guggenheim, among others.

Portrait of Alexander Calder from the book Calder Jewelry. Photo © Maria Robledo

If you could own or wear any piece of jewelry, what would it be and why?

An Alexander Calder piece, because he was one of the first in the West to elevate jewelry beyond the intrinsic value of the materials; he made the pieces himself using low-tech processes and reached a huge collectible status. 

From a jewelry perspective, if you could choose any period of time to live in, which one would it be?

The Cartier period.

Notable memory from Design Miami:

Too many. What happens at Design Miami stays at Design Miami.

Caroline Van Hoek presents Toast at Design Miami/ Basel 2019. Photo © James Harris

A recent movie or book that moved you:

Curtiz by Topolanszky on Netflix.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received:

Never open your mail on Fridays.