Eva Hartling on Maison Birks’ holiday collection and the jeweller’s debut in the U.K.
As vice president of Birks Brand and chief marketing officer at Birks Group Inc., Eva Hartling is surrounded by extravagant jewels around the clock. With Birks’ recent entry into the U.K. and a milestone 150th anniversary, Hartling is ushering in a new era for the renowned Canadian jeweller. Here, the Montrealer shares her connection to jewellery and what she loves most about the holiday season. Why do you think shopping for fine jewellery is such an intimate experience for many women? “Whether it’s selected as a status symbol or a fashion statement, fine jewellery is an investment. It will be something we hang on to longer than a dress or a pair of shoes, so we choose it carefully. Jewellery also has personal meaning. It’s the coveted gold bracelet we bought after our first big deal or promotion at work, or the friendship necklace we bought on vacation with our best friend.” Do you have a favourite jewellery memory? “When I was a little girl my godfather gave me my first piece of fine jewellery: a small sterling silver bear pendant that came in a matching bear jewellery bell. I lost the pendant but hung on to the bell for a long time—it was so precious to me. I also inherited my grandmother’s pearl necklaces. To her, pearls were the ultimate classic jewellery item worn on special occasions, and they came in vintage Birks boxes when they were given to me! I still think of her when I wear them.” As a heritage brand with a rich history, Birks is still a go-to for many women. Why do you think that is? “Women who come to us now appreciate the trust and reputation that goes along with our history, but come back for our new designs, which are more attuned to their lifestyle and taste today. We design with self-purchasing women in mind. As women, we may still like to receive jewellery as gifts from the significant people in our lives but, today, we certainly make our fashion and luxury purchase decisions ourselves—we know what we want.” With the holiday season in full swing, what are you coveting from the Resort 2018 collections? “I’ve been a huge fan of Gucci’s last few collections, and the recent cruise line is no exception. I am loving the colourful, bohemian silk shirts and dresses, and the abundance of motifs and textures. Of course, their use of pearls and bees makes them clear winners in my mind, as those are elements we love to play with at Birks.” Where do you like to travel during holidays? “I’m dreaming of Cartagena, Colombia. The country has undergone such development over the past few years, and Cartagena is a thriving city with an amazing food scene and cultural life. However, this Christmas and New Year’s I’ll be heading to a closer sunny destination— the island of Holbox, near Tulum in Mexico. I’m looking forward to downtime, relaxing by the ocean with a healthy fruit smoothie, and a yoga class every morning.” What are some of your favourite Birks launches this season? “The recent extension to our iconic Birks Rock & Pearl collection is one I covet; originally in silver, the new designs have been turned into mini versions of the originals, and they now come in 18K yellow gold. Our new 18K gold bars and medallions from the Plaisirs de Birks collection allow for engraving—the perfect stocking stuffers for friends or family.” What’s next for Birks? “We are excited about our European debut in the U.K. It’s truly the start of our wholesale venture outside of North America. 2018 is also a big year for us as we will be opening three renovated flagships in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. The store experience will be completely different, which will make a statement about the new Birks brand, and our own collections will be centre stage. We’re also welcoming fantastic brands, including French house Chaumet (which we just introduced exclusively to North America), Van Cleef & Arpels, and an array of wonderful luxury timepiece brands we carry, from Rolex to Cartier.”
Clockwise from left: Les Plaisirs de Birks Yellow Gold Disk Pendant; Casa Las Tortugas on Isla Holbox, Mexico; Gucci resort 2018; Birks Rock & Pearl Gold Stud Earrings.