Upon the reopening of Chaumet’s flagship at The Dubai Mall, Global CEO JeanMarc Mansvelt tells Villa 88 ’s Sophie Stevens how the Maison’s heritage is the key to its modern-day success
Chaumet’s CEO discusses how heritage is the key to the Maison’s modern-day success
“IT’S A REBIRTH. STEP ONE on our new journey,” says Chaumet’s Global CEO JeanMarc Mansvelt, speaking about the October reopening of their flagship store in The Dubai Mall, a sleekly redesigned jewel-box-inspired boutique infused with Parisian chic. “Our clients should feel happy to be here, like it’s their home, while still being surrounded by different symbols, references and narratives that tell the history of Chaumet,” he adds.
This history stretches back nearly 240 years, with Chaumet boasting a reputation as one of the oldest European jewelry houses – founded by Marie-étienne Nitot in 1780, the company gets its name from his successor, Joseph Chaumet. Since its start, the Maison has prided itself on distinctive designs for a discerning clientele, beginning with Emperor Napoleon and his first wife – and still today’s muse – the Empress Joséphine.
“We’ve never pretended to reach 100 percent of the population,” Jean-marc shares. “Some of our colleagues have stores everywhere, in every country, in every mall, on every street. This is not the approach of Chaumet. We do things step by step.”
Today, the Maison is seeing the rewards of such an approach, garnering an increasingly loyal audience in the Middle East. “What we particularly see in this region is a growing number of clients who like to wear jewels that are not worn by everybody,” Jean-marc observes. “Chaumet has always been a choice of distinction; it’s very light and pure, but with a strong meaning behind it. The market here is growing for us, as we are seeing more people looking for that difference.”
Key demands have emerged from the region, with Jean-marc citing ‘The Green Phenomenon’ (“anything with malachite or emeralds performs very strongly here”), as well as easy-to-wear everyday jewelry as two examples.
The Dubai Mall is the Maison’s number one international performer for their Bee My Love stacking bracelets, a modern jewelry trend that Chaumet has been quick to respond to. “Jewels are always worn in a context, for an outfit,” Jean-marc explains. “For example, the bracelet-stacking trend is something very recent. It’s in the same way that shorter necklaces were worn in the second half of the 19th century before changing to the longer ‘garçon’ style of the 1920s. Jewelry has always been adapted for wearability and functionality.”
Education is a particularly strong theme of the Maison, who continually share the stories behind their iconic designs in publications and international exhibitions. “We are not a museum,” Jean-marc emphasizes quickly. “Rather, each showcase has a subject or an angle, allowing us to tell Chaumet’s story in a contemporary way so it will appeal to the people of today.”
The Maison is looking forward to the third of these exhibitions, scheduled for Monaco in summer 2019, after highly successful shows in Beijing and Tokyo in 2017 and 2018, respectively. Jean-marc proudly points out that the ‘ Worlds of Chaumet’ display at Tokyo’s Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum drew the highest number of visitors the venue has seen for an exhibition: “We even beat the treasures from The Musée d’orsay. More people came for Chaumet.”
When asked about potential Middle East exhibitions, Jean-marc tantalizingly admits it is “one of the things the team is working on”, but only on the Maison’s condition of tailoring any exhibition to the country itself. One possibility for the region is the shared history and expertise between the Gulf and the Maison for natural pearls – in fact, Joseph Chaumet established one of the world’s first gemological laboratories to appraise gems.
No matter what the future has in store for the Maison, Jean-marc is excited. Seated in the gleaming new Dubai flagship surrounded by symbols of Chaumet’s long heritage and exceptional creations, it is easy to see why. “The future is super bright for us,” he smiles. “The oldest Maison has the brightest future.” @chaumet_arabia