NOTEBOOK FROM MILAN

Byline: Alessandra Ilari

Long know for its use of colorful, oversized semi-precious stones set in gold, Pomellato strayed from its heritage somewhat in the Nineties, distracted by the fine jewelry world’s fixation on diamonds.
But now the firm is seeking to recapture its place as the jeweler for everyday, led by Francesco Minoli, its general manager, who joined the jewelry firm in July 1999.
“It’s about gold, semi-precious stones, a strong but refined image and an industrial production with an artisanal connotation,” said Minoli, who added that the firm’s previous management had focused less on product creativity in favor of marketing. “With the former management, the company risked losing the mood and lifestyle concept that is intrinsic to Pomellato.”
While the strategy of former management didn’t cut into the company’s balance sheets — between 1994 and 1999 Pomellato doubled its sales — the side effects were a loss of brand identity and design edginess, both elements that made Pomellato a force in fine jewelry.
After scouring the company’s archives, which date back to its founding in 1967 by Pino Rabolini, Minoli reinstalled a design team, a member of which is Rabolini’s son, Alessandro. The resulting collections showcase Pomellato’s focus on gold, with diamonds as an accent, rather than the other way around.
“Jewels dripping with diamonds are not Pomellato’s nature,” said Minoli. “We use diamonds as a complement to add a luminous touch to the gold.”
The “Lucciole” or firefly collection features hand-made white, red or yellow gold bands in shiny and matte versions embossed with a single small diamond. Capturing the firm’s playful history, they can be worn singularly or in multiples, mixing-and-matching the different colors.
The “Boule” line was inspired by a Pomellato design from the Seventies that has been updated. The result is a matching mesh bracelet and necklace with asymmetrical linkage and sphere-shaped invisible fastenings, sprinkled with pave diamonds.
Referring to the accessibility of the new pieces, Minoli described them as “democratic luxury.”
“Today, it’s not about jewelry overkill, but about fitting jewelry into different occasions and wearing it for personal gratification,” said Minoli.
“With Lucciole, you can spend $300 for one ring or go all the way with more rings and matching earrings and bracelets and spend $4,000.”
Minoli said the refocusing of the brand, coupled with a declining interest in unbranded jewelry that has swept through the fine jewelry industry in recent years, should spur the pace of sales in the next few years. He expects sales to reach $63 million this year and top $77 million by 2003.
Although the company spent nearly $10 million to open 20 stores around the world, three of which are directly owned, retail expansion is not critical now, according to Minoli.
“Take Rolex, for example, the leading watch company in the world. They don’t have their own stores, yet the brand is so strong that they can do without,” said Minoli. “My aspiration is to have a strong brand identity.”
What he is concentrating on are Pomellato’s existing sales points. There are 180 in Italy and 80 sprinkled throughout the rest of the world.
“We have the best sales points in the world, so it’s a question of them telling the Pomellato story within the right co
ntext, from the packaging to the visual merchandising,” said Minoli. “It makes no sense for me to invest time and money to make a Pomellato jewel an emotional purchase if it’s showcased in a cold and sterile way.”
Minoli’s agenda also includes boosting Pomellato’s market share within its 30 key sales points from 3 percent to 10 percent.

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