How a Beach Pebble Became Fashion's Hottest Accessory

Meet financier Charlie de Viel Castel, the unlikely jewelry designer behind CVC Stones, a favorite of everyone from Kendall Jenner to Lauren Santo Domingo.

The financier Charlie de Viel Castel launched his jewelry line CVC Stones as a passion project in the spring of 2015. Much to everyone’s surprise - including his own - it was quickly picked up by Moda Operandi, and started appearing on the likes of Charlize Theron and Sienna Miller. One year later, he's celebrating his early success by growing the business, launching a series of paper weights and chokers on Moda Operandi this month in honor of the brand’s anniversary.

Viel Castel, a managing partner at the private equity firm Stelac, didn't ever consider jewelry as a line of work or investment. That is, until his grandmother died and left him a raw diamond. She had always encouraged him to follow an artistic path, and, determined to honor her legacy, he began making necklaces for his close friends and family. Using the simple beach stones he would collect as a child, he added diamond accents and suspended the pendants from a gold chain.

De Viel Castel’s creations soon caught the eye of Moda Operandi co-founder Lauren Santo Domingo, who quickly offered him his first trunk show a month later. “CVC stones, like the woman who wears them, are a study in contrasts, exhibiting both fragility and strength,” Santo Domingo explained of what first struck her about the line. It was only a matter of weeks before the necklaces were appearing on celebrities and models including Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Lily Aldridge.

“What makes the necklaces so covetable is how they each have their own personality,” said The Line’s Vanessa Traina. “It’s the most versatile piece of jewelry I own, and the one piece I never take off.” Retailers are already banking on that versatility — CVC Stones has been picked up by Barneys New York, Colette, The Webster and most recently Net-a-Porter, and is selling out fast.

Dr Jekyll + Mr Hyde by CVC Stones, coming to Moda Operandi later this month. Photo courtesy CVC Stones.

The one-of-a-kind stones are now turning up everywhere: Kendall Jenner, Cara Delevingne and Sarah Jessica Parker have snapped up the signature black stones, while Jessica Hart and Alexia Niedzielski opted for the more muted white and beige shades. And a quick scroll through Instagram reveals that Elsa Hosk and Dianna Agron are also fans.

De Viel Castel remains a little in awe of how quickly CVC Stones has taken off. “This whole fashion world is still so new and exciting to me,” he said. “I sometimes get more nervous meeting editors and potential clients than I do with private equity accounts!”