LONDON — Luximpact has pocketed another piece of history, buying the 19th century French jewelry house Oscar Massin, and plans to recast the designs using lab-grown diamonds.
Co-founded by Frédéric de Narp, who spent most of his career at Cartier and Harry Winston, the Paris-based Luximpact is a new investment firm that’s looking to revive historic French jewelry houses and put sustainable materials, and socially responsible practices, at their core.
De Narp has teamed with industry colleagues Sandrine de Laage and Coralie de Fontenay to form Luximpact. Vever, an Art Nouveau pioneer, was the first acquisition, and de Narp said late last year that Luximpact planned to buy two more companies in 2022.
Going forward, the Luximpact team plans to create an ecosystem of management and creative direction aimed at supporting the brands across the burgeoning portfolio.
The upcoming Massin collections were designed by Luximpact’s creative director de Laage, who has been drawing from Massin’s aesthetics and techniques. She has taken inspiration from Massin’s most famous designs, including his metal lacework and signature rose-cut diamonds, but has not tried to replicate them.
Massin was born in Liège, Belgium, and apprenticed a local jeweler by the age of 12. He later moved to Paris and worked as a bench jeweler for some of the most prominent houses on Place Vendôme.
He created bespoke pieces for royalty around the world, and was awarded the gold medal at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1867, where he showed his work for the first time under his own name.
He established his eponymous atelier in 1863 and worked until his retirement in 1892. The house has been dormant since then.
Luximpact said Massin is recognized as both a teacher and an artist, and was known for sharing his experiments, original techniques and designs with younger generations.
The new collections, which are set to launch in mid-February on the Oscar Massin website, aim to capture that spirit of experimentation and transparency.
Oscar Massin will be the first heritage luxury brand to use lab-grown diamonds that are sourced in the U.S., according to Luximpact. The jewelry is made from fully traceable, untreated and climate-neutral Latitude diamonds.
The settings are made from 100 percent recycled gold and platinum.
The diamonds are produced by WD Diamonds, which meets high standards of environmental and ethical responsibility as measured by SCS Global Services. SCS specializes in third-party certification, validation and verification of companies’ environmental and sustainability claims.
According to WD, the Latitude-branded rocks are fully traceable, grown in the U.S. and guaranteed conflict-free.
In an interview last November, de Narp said the Luximpact team wants to resurrect the DNA of storied French jewelry houses work and recast them for the 21st century from a creative, financial and ESG angle.
De Narp and his partners are looking specifically at French jewelers founded between the mid-19th and early 20th centuries, a golden age of creativity and craftsmanship in France when the Art Nouveau and Art Deco movements were flourishing.
That period saw the birth of houses such as Cartier, Boucheron and Van Cleef & Arpels, which are now owned by big luxury groups.
De Narp and his partners have raised money privately (de Fontenay, the former managing director of Cartier France, is a top angel investor in the country) and have also received funding from BPI, the French public investment bank.
For de Narp, fine jewelry “promotes the beauty of planet Earth, whether it’s a diamond that was created two years ago, or a lab-grown one that is the result of human genius. It’s always promoting the beauty of craftsmanship, and the best products that human beings are capable of making,” he told WWD in an interview last year.
In addition to using lab-grown diamonds and recycled gold, Luximpact also wants to work towards circularity and transparency across the supply chain and manufacturing.
De Narp noted there will also be a big focus on jewelry métiers d’art, and that Vever is already working with the French enamel expert Sandrine Tessier.
He said Luximpact’s brands will make their jewelry in France, with a focus on “unique products” rather than big volumes.