Ring it up

Pan­dora em­barks on a shiny new ad­ven­ture. Laura deCarufel goes along for the ride

The Kit - - THEKIT.CA - PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY AIMEE NISHI­TOBA

Jew­ellery has a new spirit. Women aren’t sit­ting around wait­ing for a box to be pulled from be­hind a suited back—they’re go­ing out and buy­ing the pieces they want for them­selves. No one un­der­stands this lib­er­a­tion bet­ter than Pan­dora, which was founded in Copen­hagen in 1982 and is now a multi-bil­lion-dol­lar mega brand built on jew­ellery that costs less than $100 apiece. It didn’t reach that level of suc­cess by sit­ting still. Typ­i­cal of the brand’s con­tin­ual in­no­va­tion, this spring, Pan­dora dou­bled down on its sus­tain­abil­ity fo­cus and opened a next-gen eco-friendly pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity in Chi­ang Mai, Thai­land— a mas­sive curved struc­ture that reuses 45 per cent of its wa­ter and from the air re­sem­bles the brand’s iconic charm bracelet.

On an arid March day, jour­nal­ists from around the world gath­ered to meet the mak­ers who craft the charms, rings and ear­rings sold in more than 60 coun­tries. Be­fore ar­riv­ing, we were given instructions to cover our shoul­ders and wear closed-toe shoes to pay re­spect to the re­cently de­ceased Thai king. That kind of cul­tural sen­si­tiv­ity is typ­i­cal of Pan­dora: A spirit house was the first build­ing erected on the new grounds; it was blessed by monks, as were all the em­ploy­ees. “We want our peo­ple to feel em­pow­ered,” ex­plains Claus Teilmann Petersen, Pan­dora’s vice-pres­i­dent of ethics. “In re­turn we get a very en­gaged and pro­duc­tive staff.” The av­er­age em­ployee ten­ure? 25 years.

In­side, the fa­cil­ity looks like a modernist gym­na­sium with spot­less con­crete floors. Em­ploy­ees in ma­roon uni­forms, some with sleeves of tat­toos, bend over their work, cast­ing or pol­ish­ing. The charm bracelet is the foun­da­tion of Pan­dora’s suc­cess, but the re­cent col­lec­tions are trend­ing in a bolder, more ad­ven­tur­ous di­rec­tion—think ear cuffs and del­i­cate rings meant to be worn across mul­ti­ple fin­gers.

“I see a big change com­ing,” says Stephen Fairchild, se­nior vice-pres­i­dent and chief cre­ative of­fi­cer, of the way that women ap­proach jew­ellery. “I find it in­ter­est­ing that a lot of women are tat­too­ing them­selves— it’s a form of wear­ing jew­ellery, a fresh kind of adorn­ment.” For Fairchild, what makes Pan­dora so spe­cial is the hand- craft­ing el­e­ment. “I call it im­per­fec­tion per­fec­tion— the pieces look sim­i­lar, but if you re­ally look at them, each one is unique. I love that.” He picks up a ring and rolls it in his fin­gers. “A hand is not a ro­bot.”

“We want our peo­ple to feel em­pow­ered.” — CLAUS TEILMANN PETERSEN, VICE- PRES­I­DENT OF ETHICS

PAN­DORA

RINGS, FROM $75 TO $110, PAN­DORA.NET

Clock­wise from top: the Dhara Dhevi ho­tel, our HQ dur­ing the Pan­dora trip; Stephen Fairchild; model Mamé Ad­jei, a star of Pan­dora’s spring cam­paign; a gar­den at the Dhara Dhevi; the Chi­ang Mai pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity.

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