Brigitte Chabbert, director of precious stones purchasing, prestige jewellery department, described how each stone contains the germ of a design.
Colours have to be harmonised and the different possibilities explored. Four to five designs are prepared and the team finally settles for one of them. Sometimes, they work for two or more years on a particular piece.
If Van Cleef was all poetry and charm, his marketing team was more interested in trotting out hard facts without revealing any figures, which were “confidential”.
Fabrice Poch, Far East export director, said it was too early to think of marketing high jewellery but they were trying to communicate what the brand was all about, and also the fact that though Cartier, with an annual turnover of 2.2 billion Euro, was definitely high end, it was yet accessible to a wide range of consumers.
Its one and only boutique in India opened at the Oberoi in Mumbai in 1997 and they have since been selling perfumes, watches and eyewear in partnerships with Indians.
Though “business is growing substantially”, Cartier’s Mumbai boutique closed in May for it was “rethinking” its strategy. Poch stressed that although the market was mature enough, “we have to be patient”.
In China, the market is expanding at an “amazing” rate and it has a wide distribution network, though there are restrictions on introducing high jewellery.