By  on March 16, 2010

Mauboussin is on the move in the U.S.

On the heels of a high-profile ad campaign, the French jeweler on Monday opened a boutique inside Bloomingdale’s in Chestnut Hill, a suburb of Boston, and is seeking more doors for wholesaling and retailing.

For Bloomingdale’s, it’s a head start offering a brand currently without any wholesale distribution in the U.S., and with only one retail site, the four-level Mauboussin flagship opened October 2008 at 714 Madison Ave. in New York with an all-white bridal gallery and the François Chocolate Bar by pastry chef François Payard. Bloomingdale’s has been evolving its jewelry business, growing with firms such as David Yurman, John Hardy and Roberta Coin, since it took over its Finlay leased operation last year. The 450-square-foot Mauboussin shop inside Bloomingdale’s Chestnut Hill is leased and sells the semiprecious stone collection, bridal pieces and Swiss-made watches, with prices ranging from $875 to $20,000.

“It’s a big look that’s beautifully designed,” said Francine Klein, executive vice president and general merchandise manager at Bloomingdale’s. “The ring collection looks like it can be very important as a particular classification. It’s a great assortment, with a combination of semiprecious and precious stones.”

Asked why Bloomingdale’s chose Chestnut Hill to launch Mauboussin, Klein replied: “That’s where we were able to give them a big environment. It’s a great location adjacent to our fine jewelry world.”

Whether Bloomingdale’s opens additional Mauboussin shops in other locations remains to be seen. “We will take this one step at a time,” Klein said. “We are always looking for [ways] to expand. This is an opportunity to test to see what we can do.”

“We think our interests are aligned,” since both companies seek to offer “accessible” luxury and creativity, added Christine Cachot, chief operating officer of Mauboussin. “It’s not about status. It’s about emotion. We want to be the jewelry that communicates passion.”

According to Mauboussin chairman and president Alain Némarq, the jeweler envisions 30 to 50 new locations opening over the next five years in the U.S. Most will be inside other stores, though a handful of freestanding stores are being considered. It’s an ambitious goal, considering consumers have been tightening spending and the jewelry sector has been hard hit by the recession, with Finlay Enterprises, Whitehall and Friedman’s jewelers liquidating in the last couple of years, and Zale struggling, but returning to the black last quarter. But Némarq said, “The luxury consumer looks for value above all, and impeccable quality and affordable luxury is precisely what keeps drawing customers to Mauboussin.”

Mauboussin, founded in 1827, is known as “Le Joaillier de l’Emotion,” or “The Jeweler of Emotion.” The shop is designed by Regis Pean of Omni/form Inc. The textures and colors echo the jewels, and the collections are displayed in lacquered treasure boxes balanced on delicate tapered stems. The space has aubergine cerused hardwood floors, ruffled satin moldings on pearlized leather walls, and two seating areas with oversize sofas.

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