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In 2008, Michael Saiger founded the unisex jewelry and accessory house Miansai in Miami with the brand’s iconic hook bracelet. He hand-made the bracelet, originally for himself, and today, each design is still made by hand in the brand’s Miami warehouse with high-quality materials, including fine Italian leathers, precious metals, and custom-made marine-grade ropes.
This year Miansai celebrates its 10th anniversary, now carrying bracelets, watches, rings, leather goods, and more. Rather than full collections of staples, the brand has also recently focused on offering investment pieces, like the Pavé Cuff (shining with 126 pavé diamonds), and statement pieces like the Klink bracelet (an edgy, flexible design with over 50 individual links).
Whitewall spoke with Saiger about 10 years of Miansai, the brand’s new and iconic pieces, and designing his first engagement ring.
WHITEWALL: Tell us a bit about why you founded Miansai.
MICHAEL SAIGER: There was nothing out there for guys. I couldn’t believe in the fashion industry that something like this hadn’t been done for a guy like me. I started making these bracelets and everyone loved them, so I started selling them at BASE in Miami and saw a huge opportunity. I bought machines, getting prototyping equipment, and before I was done with college, it was my co-founder, myself, and a few others working already.
WW: In the past 10 years, what changes have you seen in the jewelry market? How has Miansai adapted?
MS: When I first started, I was making pieces that were around $100—for a guy to wear something and not think anything of it. My idea was that if a guy would wear a watch, he’d wear Miansai.
Now the direction is that people are more willing to invest in something that they’ll have forever. It’s evolved into more timeless classics, and people are willing to really invest in those pieces—men and women.
A big thing we’re going for are statement pieces. A lot of brands wind up in trouble because they’re launching huge collections. All of the pieces we launch are timeless, so I started launching fewer pieces so I’d have a streamline piece you can wear every day, mixed with conversation pieces—like the Triad Cuff and Eden Earrings.
WW: Tell us a bit about your diamond cuff—it was a first for the brand to work with diamonds. What was the starting point of working with new luxury materials and stones?
MS: A lot of customers wanted to graduate from the version they’ve been wearing. I was strategic about it, too, because I didn’t want to launch diamonds or anything like that too early. We launched as a men’s brand, but I’ve never really said we were a men’s or a women’s brand—we are unisex. But we did sell in a lot of men’s stores. After five years, I said, “Okay, we’ve been here for five years, I can do women’s now without having men think we’re selling out.” For a lot of brands that start with men’s and then go to women’s, men’s becomes an afterthought. After we launched women, I wanted to solidify our collection with it and move into diamonds—with pavé and sapphires. I wanted our high price point, and an entry-level price point, too.
WW: Tell us about your bespoke and customization options.
MS: If you come in, you can tell us your initials and we’ll stamp them into silver and roll them into a cuff and make it personalized. We’re also offering signet rings, which we launched last year, that are nostalgic and cool.
What people see when they see our jewelry is a polished, finished piece. But what they don’t see is that it’s actually a dirty kind of business—metal grinding, polishing, casting. I wanted to bring that into our stores, so people can see us roll a piece from nothing and stamp it. It shows you a little glimpse into everything that goes into making a piece from scratch.
WW: You got married just a few months ago and you designed a ring for your wife, Rachael—your first engagement ring design. Can you tell us a bit about your design process?
MS: The same process that went into designing her ring is how I design anything and everything. I knew I wanted to design something for her that was very simplistic. I knew I wanted the stone emerald cut and a very simple band. I wanted the diamond to speak for itself without it being dressed up with anything on the sides of it—something very clean, classic, and a conversation piece due to its simplicity. We milled it out of a solid piece of gold and it’s done with brushed gold. It’s definitely different. I also don’t like when diamonds are set up so high above the finger, so we engineered it to sit as low as possible—basically within a millimeter.
Usually, when I design, I’m also restricted in specific zones. It was fun to design a ring based around a stone rather than a shape or a design. Our design aesthetics are very similar, too. Rachael likes to say “timeless over trendy,” and that’s what this was, so I knew she’d like it.