Digital Co-Lab

Fused by Innovation: César Villegas

César Villegas is a fourth generation jeweler from Mexico. Maestros Joyeros, his jewelry brand is very popular with celebrities around the world.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would like to get to know you a little more. Can you tell us a little bit about the "backstory" of your childhood?

I was born in 1992 in Guadalajara, Jalisco; the second most prominent state in Mexico. Home to well-known tequila companies, the state of mariachi, boxing, and great stars.

The firstborn of Cesar Villegas Guzmán– third-generation in goldsmith art– and from a devote, Catholic mother, María del Refugio Murillo, who from childhood instilled values and religion in every aspect of life.

Since childhood, we were taken to work and introduced to the family craft, so later when we left the university, we would have no problem immersing into an already rooted line of work.

Right after finishing high school, I entered the workforce. I was taken to work at the branch of purchase and sales of diamonds and supplies for the jeweler to be able to learn closely about the workshops and see the techniques they used at the time of manufacture. Over time and over the years I spent about 48 to 52 months in the factory and production learning the prices and improvements of jewelry.

Once I graduated, I was able to integrate 100% into the sales area of jewelry, and I realized the low quality in the national market. My father always told me that customers did not want to pay more for more quality. In the market, there was (even as of today) low-carat jewelry, low-quality gems, and low-quality diamonds that are sold as if they were something exclusive. And that was something that had to be changed.

Over time and with the help of my father, we gradually increased quality and created procedural improvements. When we started receiving sales orders for rings, customers did not want to pay the minimum increase of 3% for the quality, on par with the pieces imported from Italy, because they were Mexican pieces.

While creating jewelry for international brands, we decided to open Maestros Joyeros with a focus fully on innovation, experience, quality, and service.

You come from a family of jewelers of four generations, starting with your great-grandfather until now you. How did a small door-to-door business grow into a successful company that has worked with some of the biggest names in Latin America?

It all started with my great-grandfather, Don Ambrosio Guzmán Rivas, around (1931) he started buying and selling from door to door. During that time, he brought my paternal grandmother Magdalena Bustos along with him. Where she learned commerce and how to work in sales while maintaining her values and ethics. Over the years and with a lot of effort my great-grandfather, Don Ambrosio Guzmán Rivas managed to open his first store in Los Portales in Guadalajara, Jalisco.

Leaving the trade aside and focusing on goldsmith from scratch in 1979, my grandmother Magdalena Guzmán (along with her son Cesar Villegas), opened one of the first factories that focused on medals. In the 90s they achieved an expansion into different countries and opened their first store in Los Angeles, California.

In 2010, they began exporting jewelry to Dubai. With great success in this new venture, they earned the Jalisco Export Award in 2012. In the year 2017, the expansion continued and resulted in the grand opening of a Dubai office in the gold Mercado.

Once I finished college, I realized that the wholesale market was 100% focused on prices instead of quality, instead of caratage, and sadly there were many individuals whose presence in the market only affected it negatively. My father and I attempted to sell higher-quality goods and increase labor prices by one to three percent to achieve the standards of Italian branding. In doing this, we realized that no one wanted to pay this much for jewelry made in Latin America.

I think this was the point in time that hurt me a lot, I realized our labor as a Latino was not valued. That they did not believe that Latinos could be on par with international jewelry, and simply would not pay for it. Even though we were a company that created jewelry for brands and exported 50% of the production to international jewelry brands. At that time, I made the decision to start the Maestros Joyeros brand in 2018.

With the grace of God, the support from my father, and the entire team, Maestros Joyeros was born from scratch. As of today, we have 70 collaborators, focusing on personalization and the experience of selling fine jewelry and diamonds made to measure.

There must be a lot of pressure to continue the family legacy in fine jewelry. What is it like to run the family business?

Honestly, all the opportunities I have had are thanks to God. I believe that honest work alongside ethics and values will you take you far. Maestros Joyeros has always been a team effort. A salesman cannot deliver a piece without manufacturing, just as a factory cannot create anything without a 3D designing team. Custom pieces for our clients are an all-hands approach.

In conclusion, all our success is a result of great efforts and teamwork in all areas such as; Research and Development, Systems, Accounting, Content Creation, Manufacturing, 3D Design, Auditing, Legal, Sales, Human Resources, Public Relations, and Management.

What is your mission for Maestros Joyeros?

To be referred to as the number one worldwide jewelry powerhouse by positioning ourselves in principal cities and countries around the world. We foresee opening brick-and-motors in places such as San Diego, Miami, New York City, Mexico City, London, Hong Kong, Paris…

Our focus remains on creating custom pieces, as well as collections that merge technology with jewelry. We don't believe in the impossible.

You are a successful business leader. What three character traits do you think were most critical to your success? Can you share a story or example?

The religious beliefs instilled by my mother were essential, given that the guidelines are in a few words: to love your neighbor as yourself. I cannot fail my religion, family, and the families that support the decisions I make as a director.

My moral character and values are: honesty, transparency, love, passion, restlessness for innovation, a love of teamwork, and listening to others so that we can nourish ourselves with different visions and different ways of solving problems.

There are quite a few stories I can tell, and they are those that I live daily... From the moment I arrive at the office, I am presented with problems. But our team is always one step ahead.

I feel like a successful business leader when my team is able to solve issues and create solutions on their own. It feels amazing to have a team that always has your back.

Can you share the most interesting story that has happened to you since you started your career?

When we first started, we were known for working only with influencers. Many thought it was impossible to pivot from influencers to world-known artists in the music industry but suddenly, we started receiving support from Poncho Denigris along with Eduin Caz of Grupo Firme. Creating a connection with them was the step that boosted us into becoming the preferred jeweler for Latin-American artists.

And truth be told, it brings us great pleasure, demonstrating that it was possible. That we can innovate far beyond what many imagined. Above all, to demonstrate that Latin-American work of art is worth it, and worth a lot.

Any advice your mother or great-grandfather has given you regarding this industry or life in general that has helped you along the way?

Of course, always be transparent, and honest, sell ethically, and always take care of the family name.

Through the generations, we have seen how many "jewelers" who are really only merchandisers, get rich by selling low-quality goods and gold that does not have the purity they indicate. And it has always been very clear to us that working with rectitude gives you permanence in the market and in the long run, this goes a long way, rather than a merchant who is not honest.

As for a phrase: “Con Dios todo, sin Dios nada” “With God, everything, without God, nothing”

All the pieces you've created are amazing. Tell us about one of your favorite creations... When creating a new piece, what is the process like? Where do the ideas/motivation/inspiration come from?

My favorite creation was the NataKong because it was the piece in which we took an innovative step in merging technology with jewelry. It was no hocus pocus but rather something that made us create a new area R&D (Research and Development).

Natanael Cano approached us and told us that he wanted a piece out of the ordinary, completely unique, and that wherever it was seen, it was the center of attention. Lastly, he wanted it to resonate with his new album.

Thanks to the creative directors, 3D designers, and systems engineers we were able to have his vision come to life. In creating this piece, not only was Natanael Cano ecstatic but we created something that marks the history of goldsmithing in Latin America.

You have worked with many talented artists such as Peso Pluma, Natanael Cano, JOP de Fuerza Régida, Grupo Firme, Nio García, Becky G, Junior H, and many more, who have you collaborated with that you were like wow I can't believe it! Who has been one of your favorite artists to collaborate with?

As a Latino, I grew up with reggaeton, I fell in love with the genre because of Wisin y Yandel. They have always been one of my favorite artists whom I consider a part of my upbringing. And I will finally have the opportunity to work with them, thanks to Aarón Ampudia, the director of Baja Beach Fest.

These pieces will clearly have all the essence of Master Jewelers as well as all the essence of what Wisin y Yandel are today.

What has been the most challenging piece of jewelry you've made? And who was it for?

The one we created for Natanael Cano (Natakong). This piece was most challenging because we had to completely leave our comfort zone. The artist gave us the creative freedom to design the piece all on our own, with minimal input. This was when we really started to work as a team and show that everything could be done if we all focused on the common goal.

Who is the collaboration of your dreams? Which artist would you like to collaborate with next?

I would like to collaborate with AMIRI or Philip Plein, two young designers, and entrepreneurs, and create jewelry fused with technology. I believe that with their new and modern ideas, along with all that Maestros Joyeros has to offer, together we would be able to create completely unique pieces no one has seen before. Our artistic talents and creative minds would have a global reach.

What's next for Master Jewelers? Any new projects you're working on?

We are currently working on establishing our headquarters in the Andares area of Zapopan, Jalisco, later we intend to open our first retail store for Maestros Joyeros in San Diego, California.

In regards to jewelry creation, we are creating a piece for the artists 6ix9ine and Eduin Caz. We anticipate a lot of talks when the pieces are finished because we are adding 4K screens and "life" to them. Just wait and see.

What should we expect from you in the coming years?

Innovation! It is in our DNA. Each member of team Maestros Joyeros will work together as a team to focus on collaborations and maximum efforts in all areas. And at the end, our greatest efforts will reflect in the pieces that the artists wear, as those pieces of jewelry are designed to be their favorite.


Talent: César Villegas @obmaestrosjoyeros 

Production/PR: Burgerrock Media @burgerrockmedia 

Irma Penunuri @burgerrock 

Photographer: Rielle Oase @really_rielle 

Photo Retoucher: Hugo Arvizu @arvizu_arts

Production Assistant: Baldo Mendoza @itsbaldooo 

Marianela Valderrama @cafe.conflores 

Stylist: Horacio Aguilar @styledbyhoracio 

Grooming: Bertha Robles @beautybybert 

Interview: Nancy Martinez @hellanancy 

Photographer Assistant: Saul Ryers @saulryers 

Nicolas Solano @xxtoska  

Jewelry: Maestros Joyeros @obmaestrosjoyeros