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Leonid Kimovich Mezhibovsky
July 4, 1963
|Known for||Leon Megé, Inc.|
Leon Megé is a jewelry designer based in New York City. He mostly works with private clientele and creates custom jewelry and engagement rings. His aesthetic can be described as minimalist contemporary classic with a touch of surprise - intricate ajours, secret stones, and hidden filigrees. Many of his pieces are floral-based.
Leon was born into a poor Jewish family in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on July 4th, 1963. His father was an engineer-turned-dissident and his mother was a scientist at a nuclear weapons lab. It was his mother who introduced Leon to the world of art, and who showed him the meaning of jewelry, a delicate form of expression as profound and powerful as music or painting.
Young Leon had no interest in becoming a jeweler - the world was filled with too much suffering to consider a career in shiny trinkets. However, his dream of a college education was shattered once his family became a target of political repressions and his parents were forced out of their jobs. Their attempt to escape Russia was halted by the authorities who refused to issue an exit visa.
Since emigration was no longer possible, learning jewelry at a trade school turned out to be the only option that fit Leon’s artistic skills and postponed the military draft (during the Russian invasion of Afghanistan). In 1981, Leon graduated from the Carl Faberge Lyceum of St. Petersburg, State Art College # 11, and was drafted into the military. Upon his release from the military, he continued his career as a bench jeweler at the “Русские Самоцветы” (“Russian Gems”) jewelry factory. It was there, while repairing an umbrella, that he discovered his talents in jewelry design.
In 1987, Leon took the top prize in a jewelry competition at the factory. Being an outspoken activist and defender of workers rights, Leon was always on the radar of factory management and the KGB. Now the administration was so infuriated with his success that he was immediately fired. Luckily, Leon and his family were allowed to emigrate soon after and left Russia for good in December of 1987. Upon his arrival to New York, Leon secured a bench job with Henry Dunay. He eventually earned a Graduate Gemologist Diploma at the Gemological Institute of America. After graduation, Leon worked as a master platinumsmith for Werner Lippe, a notorious Austrian jeweler who was famous for his colorful and volatile personality. Twenty years later, Lippe was sentenced to life in prison for knocking his wife unconscious, stuffing her into a burn barrel, setting it on fire, and dissolving her remains in acid. It was during this time that Leon developed a knack for the precise craftsmanship required in making high-end jewelry.
In the 1990s, Leon was designing one-off pieces in his Queens apartment. They became known as “Le Brillianteria” among his friends, piquing the interest of new customers, and opening doors to commission work. In 1996, Leon was forced to quit his job after narrowly escaping death defending a gay co-worker. That’s when the Leon Megé company was founded. Megé opened his Madison Avenue workshop to the public and later moved into a penthouse workshop with a private showroom on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 47th Street.
Leon Megé’s Process
The Leon Megé jewelry process begins with selecting and studying the stone. To create a custom ring that fits like a glove, the stone's unique geometry must be considered from every angle. After this, the ring design can be formalized and crafted by hand. Unlike casting, which starts off as a wax pattern, Leon Megé jewelry is hand-forged. The metal is cut, bent, pounded, filed, polished. Cold forging is done using specialized hammers and anvils and filing is done with various files, starting from coarse American Bastard cut to the watchmakers’ fine Swiss-pattern needle files. Soldering is done with a hand torch. European-trained setters work with microscopes to ensure absolute precision and to avoid damaging the stone. Once the ring is set, polishing is done by hand until the desired finish is achieved. Texturing, engraving, and all other types of surface treatments are applied at the very end.
House of Megé
House of Megé is an upscale atelier dedicated to bespoke jewelry and custom designs. The company is located at 151 West 46th Street, at the footsteps of Times Square, and a block away from the International Gem Tower housing GIA.
Leon Megé is a recipient of the following awards:
1987 - Professional Jewelry Competition of St. Petersburg, Russia
2012 - AJDC New Talent Award
2010 - Classical Spectrum Award
2011 - Platinum A'Design Award
2012 - Platinum Honor Spectrum Award
2013 - Evening wear Spectrum Award
2013 - A'Design Award
2014 - MJSA Vision Award
2014 - Evening Wear Spectrum Award
2014 - Objects of Art Spectrum Award
2015 - Top Honor Spectrum Award
2015 - Best of Show Spectrum Award
2017 - AGTA Spectrum Award Bridal Wear
2017 - AGTA Spectrum Award Business Day Wear