TOKYO — A young yet powerful jewelry brand from Monaco with a strong presence across Europe and Asia is making its first entry into Japan with a newly opened store in the upscale shopping district of Ginza. APM Monaco is hoping to appeal to fashionable Japanese women with its fun yet elegant range of silver jewelry.
Founded in 1982 by Ariane Prette, the company spent three decades designing and manufacturing fine jewelry for many of the world’s top brands. Now that Ariane’s son, Philippe, has taken over as chief executive officer, his wife Kika serves as creative director. She is the force behind APM Monaco as a brand, which for the past seven years has created unique yet affordable pieces from sterling silver and cubic zirconia. Some of its earring studs cost as little as $1 while most of the collection is priced below $200.
“In fashion there is so much out there, from high-end to high street and contemporary, so you can be playful,” Kika said. “In jewelry you have only high-end and costume jewelry, and costume jewelry is cool, but it’s cheap and it breaks. So I wanted something in the middle.”
APM Monaco uses the same expertise, technology and craftsmanship that it honed with diamonds and gold to craft collections that are priced deceptively reasonably. Because of the processes used, the pieces don’t look cheap in the slightest, despite using less expensive materials. Each stone is micro set one by one for a flawless, sophisticated look.
The variety of designs is also staggering: the brand releases a new theme consisting of four different collections every single month. Along with each theme comes a new promotional campaign, often featuring a fashion influencer such as Aimee Song or Camila Coelho. APM Monaco is also a favorite among celebrities, having been spotted on the likes of Kate Hudson, Blake Lively, Katy Perry, Rihanna and Gal Gadot.
“Jewelry, if you think about it, it’s kind of an accessory, like a pair of shoes or a clutch,” Kika said. “You wear jeans and a T-shirt, and depending on how you wear your jewelry, it can look cool or edgy or elegant.”
The aesthetic ranges from timeless to playful, with simple hoop earrings and double-banded rings contrasting with motifs such as flamingos, spaceships, dinosaurs and ice cream cones. But because every collection uses the same production methods and finishing, they mix and match together easily, according to Kika.
“The interesting thing is for me to see how people wear them. That’s the beauty of it — seeing other people owning what they wear and feeling comfortable and looking good,” she said. “At the end of the day, we are here to give the tools and then for people to express themselves. There are no rules.”
APM makes all of its collections from scratch out of its own factories in China, and it has about 180 stores, all of which are directly owned. This number will grow to 200 by the end of the year. Kika said it has ceased its wholesale business because the company found it was difficult to control brand image being projected by other retailers.
Kika said that while the brand was determined that its first Japanese store would be located in Ginza, it is still eyeing further expansion in other parts of Tokyo and other cities across the country.
“For sure in the future we want to expand more. I think there’s room to do more in Tokyo because it’s so big and there are so many districts, but it really also depends on when you have an opportunity to have a good location,” the designer said. “It’s image and location and you have to open at the right place at the right time, but for sure we’re also looking at other cities. We also want to wait a little bit to understand the market.”
The brand is hoping that its unique mix of elegant and playful will appeal to Japan’s notoriously fashion-conscious consumers.
“I think the market is totally mature here. People like sophisticated and elegant. Japanese girls are very fashion forward, but they are very elegant and they care about details,” Kika said. “So you really see that there is this fashion awareness here. They like it, they’re very playful, and they like the cuteness, too.”