Helen King

Van Cleef & Arpels has named Helen King as its president and chief executive officer for the Americas.

King, who officially began the role on Sept. 1, was promoted from her prior role as the jeweler’s senior vice president for retail in the Americas.

Born in Shanghai and raised in Hong Kong, King has worked for Van Cleef for the last 15 years. She first joined in 2003 as the director of Van Cleef’s South Coast Plaza boutique and rose up the ranks — becoming a West Coast regional director, then the vice president of high jewelry development. Her position as SVP for retail entailed her overseeing the U.S., Canadian and Brazilian markets.

“I feel very lucky stepping into this role at what I consider a very exciting time for Van Cleef,” King told WWD at the jeweler’s Fifth Avenue flagship. “One of my top responsibilities is to ensure continuity, and make sure we stay true to the core identity of the maison.”

Global president and ceo Nicolas Bos said of King’s promotion: “Helen brings with her strong leadership and great knowledge in the world of high jewelry and its clients, as well as an expertise in building teams and developing strategy.”

While elated about her role, King appeared nonplussed by her distinction as the firm’s first non-Caucasian ceo: “This has been mentioned to me a lot, I didn’t even realize it myself. I am super excited, but I honestly don’t see the difference. I think the philosophy stays the same. Over the years I have seen men and women, all genders, being rewarded by great opportunities. For me, honestly, of course I have expanded my scope but the philosophy remains — it’s to strive for excellence. That doesn’t really change.”

King’s predecessor, Alain Bernard, has been promoted — rising to become the Richemont Group’s president and ceo for North America.