Chaumet the jeweler of royal courts
Prestige issue 271, February 2016
While maison Chaumet is being restructured, Prestige met in Beirut the general manager of Chaumet for the Middle East, Jean-Philippe Clerget-Duruz who talked about the brand development plan and the upcoming celebration of thirty years for Chaumet in Lebanon.
Jean-Philippe Clerget-Duruz, General manager for Chaumet in the Middle East. © Chaumet
Can you tell us about the purpose of your visit to Lebanon? Lebanon is an important market for Chaumet, the French jewelry house. The Lebanese French relations are historical and the Lebanese people relation with luxury is well rooted. We believe that this country is sensitive to our codes and our expertise.
Since when did you join Chaumet? Since two months. We also have a new CEO in Paris, Jean-Marc Mansvelt. The house needed a change and a new dynamism. Chaumet is a superb house with a great history. It’s like a sleeping beauty that needs to be awakened!
Chaumet’s history is very rich, hence the temporary Museum … Historically Chaumet is a jewelry house, however we have always had a fairly close relationship with watchmaking, since we achieved in the past jewelry watches for the royal families, some with Breguet movements. We are on track to reestablish the basics, to begin with jewelry, than later we will target the valuable watches.
What are the pillars for repositioning Chaumet? Chaumet wishes to express its own style dating back to 235 years, a very light style, very feminine, with three fundamental pillars: the creations of Chaumet related to royal courts, the historical aspect with the royal families, intimate relationships; then the Links collection inspired by weddings, engagements. The third aspect is the natural side you saw in the Temporary Museum, the bucolic walk, the floral aspect. We also have a collection inspired by Josephine who was a very distinguished botanist.
How will you differentiate yourself from other jewelry houses? We refer to our past, the testimony of time to reposition ourselves among the biggest in terms of jewelry. We have the expertise and extraordinary archives, 55,000 drawings of pieces, 800 nickel silver tiaras in the museum. We want to use this capital to reposition Chaumet with majesty. Chaumet house was the first to settle on the place Vendôme. We have this legitimacy to be among the most prestigious houses while keeping our size, we do not pretend to become a Cartier or Van Cleef, Chaumet is an intimate house, different with a style of its own, we intend to grow while keeping our identity.
If you had to describe in a few words Chaumet? It is the intimate side, exclusive for people looking to stand out. Today we see more modern houses, like Harry Winston, Graff … creating beautiful pieces with huge stones, we are completely on the opposite, the Chaumet style is romantic relationships with Josephine and the natural side, Secret garden.
Do you plan to open a shop in Lebanon soon? Next year will be the 30th anniversary of Chaumet in Lebanon. This proves that the house has an important relationship with Lebanon. But as part of the repositioning of the brand, including my mission in the Middle East, I want to consolidate our current assets of shops. Lebanon is the first market we will target in the future to open our boudoir Chaumet in Beirut. But the economic and geopolitical situation is not really the best right now. We prefer to consolidate our assets and work closely with our partner Cadrans to ensure development of the house.
What about the Ephemeral Museum? A second exhibition will be held in February and we will move the first exposition. In the region we have the important fair in Doha, in February, where I intend to launch the Josephine collection.
Do you have lots of projects? We have a lot to do, but as I say Chaumet is an intimate house, we cannot adopt an aggressive advertising over night, I give priority to close relations, intimate and really the emotional aspect of the brand. It is important to choose a few people in key markets, and develop that relationship with the house talking to the right people exclusively. For our thirty years in Lebanon, I announce a great event next year with a selection of very privileged guests around a theme hydrangea, or Josephine.
Do you consider time as a friend or an enemy? The past for Chaumet is a friend, since we have 235 years of history. The future is a challenge since we must prove ourselves quickly, show that the new management of Chaumet is the good one. The year 2016 represents the consolidation, before redeploying the brand in 2017 much more dynamically.
Since you are working to make changes to the brand, do you recommend the launch of new collections or will Liens and Josephine be sufficient for the moment? We will work on these three aspects that I described to you earlier: heart, court and garden, but we keep the current collections that are already recognized, including the collection Liens, the Josephine collection and Hydrangea collection, complementing them with new ranges.
What gift do you recommend for Valentine’s Day? The Lebanese are quite demanding in general. From the Josephine collection, the Imperial Egret ring is a superb piece, it is a ring in the form of a diadem. As for Chaumet, all women are princesses and do not go out with a crown on the head, they can at least have one at the finger.
What should the customer who enters a Chaumet store expect? In 2016 we plan to change the visual identity of shops, with a new merchandising, a new decor in the shops. This should be a moment of pleasure and discovery.
Are the workshops still at place Vendôme? They are in a courtyard at the back of the place Vendôme boutique. All fine jewelry pieces are made in the workshops. The master craftsmen are now manufacturing pieces for the Biennale to which Chaumet will participate. Interview conducted by MARIA NADIM