This story first appeared in the February 8, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The red carpet is intended to boost a luxury brand’s image, but there are other ways to raise a profile, including store and brand expansion, compelling marketing and adorning models with collection pieces. So which jewelry brands rank highest when it comes to luxury consumer awareness? In January, the New York-based Luxury Institute released a study on which luxury jewelry brands were most familiar. The institute surveyed more than 500 respondents, ages 30 and above, with a household net worth of $5 million or higher. Below, the top 12 brands and what wealthy consumers think of them.
Luxury consumers who are familiar with this brand: 80.2 percent
“It’s amazing how resilient this brand is,” said Milton Pedraza, chief executive officer of the Luxury Institute. “Tiffany delivers great value to wealthy consumers, and it consistently ranks highly in terms of uniqueness and exclusivity, even though it’s considered more of a ubiquitous brand.” The latest news for Tiffany & Co.: a new store opening on Wall Street in the fall. Speaking of Wall Street, the stock is up 12 percent in the last year. Michael J. Kowalski, chairman and ceo, said of the holiday period, “We saw healthy sales increases in categories ranging from diamonds to silver jewelry.”
At the Golden Globe Awards in January, Sienna Miller wore diamond chandelier earrings from Cartier. Cameron Diaz was adorned in more than $150,000 worth of rings alone at the People’s Choice Awards last month, according to people.com: five large cocktail rings, along with two bracelets (valued at close to $80,000), which works out to an estimated total of $230,000 in Cartier diamonds. The Paris-based jeweler recently reopened its store in Short Hills mall in New Jersey, an event that was quite the to-do when Mandy Moore stopped by to cohost the holiday celebration.
Famous for the slogan, “A Diamond Is Forever,” De Beers, the world’s preeminent diamond-mining company, was established in 1888. The company, now as a brand, has picked up some impressive endorsements on the red carpet, including one from Scarlett Johansson. The actress wore a 30-carat diamond cluster necklace to the Oscars in 2004. Joely Richardson also appeared in De Beers diamonds for the 2003 BAFTA Awards in London. One study respondent noted, “De Beers has the best quality and is consistent and knowledgeable with its diamonds.”
It’s likely that most memorable Gucci moments on the red carpet have included shoes or apparel, because the luxury brand just launched its fine jewelry collection last year. “This is a halo effect we see with Gucci,” Pedraza said. “This is such a luxurious and trusted brand, so when it expands into areas such as fine jewelry, it will still maintain that high-end cachet, and awareness will continue to increase.” Some of the latest pieces in its collection include the 18-karat white gold Horsebit ring and the sterling silver Cord bracelet with oval chain detail.
In April, Bulgari will unveil a refurbished flagship in New York. The new design will place all women’s jewelry and watches on the ground floor. The company has recorded impressive sales gains, as well: WWD reported in November that Bulgari’s third-quarter revenue from jewelry rose 7.7 percent to 92.5 million euros, or $118.4 million. The red carpet has witnessed Bulgari on Hollywood stars such as Keira Knightley, who wore a Bulgari necklace to the 2006 Oscars, and Chloë Sevigny and Jennifer Garner, who both appeared in Bulgari jewels at the 2007 Golden Globes.
VAN CLEEF & ARPELS
This brand celebrated its 100th anniversary last year with a soiree in Paris at the famed Tuileries Gardens. The jewelry house also commissioned Randall A. Ridless to redesign its landmark boutique on Fifth Avenue. More recently, the brand has been spotted at awards ceremonies, such as the Golden Globes last month, when Reese Witherspoon appeared in Van Cleef & Arpels’ diamond bracelet and earrings, as did Maggie Gyllenhaal, who dazzled in a collection of bracelets, along with the house’s 1923 Pampilles earrings with sapphires and baguette-cut diamonds.
It’s the end of an era for this Fifth Avenue jeweler. WWD reported in September that Aber Diamond Corp., a Canadian diamond mining company, has acquired the jeweler’s remaining minority interest for $157 million. “For the first time in 74 years, there will not be a Winston family member at the helm of the company that has a legacy of creating some of the most expensive diamond jewelry in the world,” WWD said. The brand has been a red-carpet staple for stars such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Garner, but is facing strong competition from others in the top 12.
Chanel’s fine jewelry features the Coco collection — inspired by Venetian and Byzantine gilding and stonemasonry — and Privee, which is entirely dedicated to diamond pieces, among others. Red-carpet representatives for the French jeweler include Salma Hayek, who this year appeared at the Golden Globes adorned in a diamond right-hand ring and earrings from Chanel. Though Rinko Kikuchi of “Babel” showed up in a poufy Chanel dress that raised an eyebrow or two, her Chanel diamond ring was a stunner.
In October, Dior president Sidney Toledano told WWD in Moscow, “Luxury is really booming.” He was referring to fur, diamond jewelry and high-end bag sales at Dior’s latest high-profile flagship opening in Moscow. Regarding the flagship, WWD said, “Fine jewelry by Victoire de Castellane is in an adjacent room that reflects the whimsical interior of the Dior jewelry unit on Paris’ Place Vendôme, with its pearl-gray walls, panther prints and baubles displayed on tiny chairs.”
Known for its collection of quality cultured pearls, this brand was founded in 1893 by Kokichi Mikimoto, who is quoted on the company Web site as having said, “I would like to adorn the necks of all the women of the world with pearls.” Many respondents noted satisfaction with the overall quality. A loyal consumer said, “These are timeless, classic products that are understatedly elegant and not flashy.” Mikimoto’s latest ad campaign, featuring model Mia Rosing, combines “glamorous tradition with a playful, sexy, art-deco appeal,” according to its Web site.
On the 2006 Emmy Awards red carpet, Eva Longoria was radiant in Piaget’s Waterfall Motif earrings in white gold with 68 diamonds. She was also sporting Piaget’s Cascade Manchette bracelet in white gold with 329 brilliant-cut diamonds. Standout items in its collection include the 18-karat white gold Possession ring, which is really two bands linked by 480 diamonds, and its heart-shaped bracelet in 18-karat white gold, consisting of 402 diamonds. The fine jewelry and watch brand is owned by Compagnie Financière Richemont SA.
Busy, busy, busy. This describes the New York-based brand’s schedule. With a new ceo, Paul Blum, David Yurman has made significant advances, including the move to higher-end jewelry and its first fragrance launch with Groupe Clarins. In January, the firm opened on Rodeo Drive with a 1,000-square-foot flagship. WWD reported that it features “Yurman’s broadening collection, ranging from sterling silver signature pieces to platinum, to a diamond bridal collection to one-off pieces made from the designer’s personal collection of vintage and rare gemstones.”