Time is a critical element in luxury and the most needed to re-build a brand for the long run. Fabergé is the winner for the second time of the Grand Prix de l’Horlogerie, dragging all of the attention of the industry towards them.
For the matter, in the past two years they developed two watches : the Lady Peacock and the DTZ, both distinguished by a jury panel expert in the industry. A true recognition. As Fabergé is expanding their market, developing new products and joined forces with the best partners a watch and a jewelry brand could dream of we sat down with their CEO, Sean Gilbertson and Watch Director Aurélie Picaud for a crossed conversation about the insights of the brand…
INVERTED ROLES AT FABERGE: MEN IN JEWELRY and WOMEN IN WATCHES – HOW DOES IT WORK ?
Sean Gilbertson- It does not work at all! (jokingly…) We have a lady running the watch show and gentlemen running the jewelry. It is fair to say that we like to do things differently at Fabergé. We like to do them in a deliberate different way- because at the end of the day, it’s a feature of our approach. Also, it is very important that you have the best person for the job … it does not really matter whether someone is a male, a female or from outer-space as long as they are able to look at the problem differently, approach it differently and delivers something that is surprising and unexpected. That is what we care about.
IS IT SAFE TO SAY THAT FABERGE IS A FEMININE BRAND?
SG- It’s a diverse brand. It’s carefully balanced between men and women. At the moment it is fair to say that we carry more products for women on the jewelry front whereas for gentlemen we are dealing with the timepieces and cufflinks.
However, the brand is gender neutral.
HOW MUCH DOES GEMFIELDS ASSOCIATES WITH FABERGE?
SG-Whilst there is obviously a common financial ownership between Fabergé who belongs 100% to Gemfields, the two companies have very different and distinct brands, DNA and approaches to what they are doing. We pitch each of the two independently and whatever their respect of specializations are. That is not to say that the 2 businesses never overlap or interact because that would be obtuse. It does make a lot of sense to exploit the synergies where we can exploit them.
The first merge that I should dispel is to make it clear that Fabergé is perfectly entitled to buy colored gemstones from anyone in the market that they wish to buy stones from. It is not required to purchase stones from Gemfields exclusively. On the same line, Gemfields is not obligated to sell gemstones to Fabergé. It’s very important to keep them lean and healthy. If you have a situation where one is effectively subsidizing the other you are only taking money out of the pocket of one to give to the other. It will then create lazy inept and inefficient organization that can’t stand on their own feet in a competitive market! Very important to point out from a commercial perspective.
That being said, the two businesses are based very close to one another. Therefore, Gemfields has an excellent insight into the needs and functioning of their downstream customer when it comes to manufacturing jewelry, in the importance of ethical supply chain or the importance of certification. Teaming up with Fabergé helps Gemfields to understand the whole jewelry making process very well! Vice versa, everybody in the gemstones business is talking about the importance of responsible sourcing, understanding where the stones come from, and the importance of certifying them.
Therefore, Fabergé has a unique competence, it has a far greater insight into many of those issues and into the functionning of the gemstone business by vertues of association with Gemfields. Colored gemstones are fervently held specialization at Fabergé. In other words, Fabergé very often has gemstones from suppliers other than Gemfields. The number of Fabergé pieces set with Gemfields stones is in fact a minority ! We have the ability to offer our clients a large portofolio of pieces set with various gemstones supplied by different markets.
Aurélie Picaud with Sean Gilbertson
HOW DO YOU DEFINE THE NEW DNA OF THE BRAND CONSIDERING ALL OF THE CHANGES OF THE PAST 18 MONTHS?
Aurélie Picaud – Everytime we develop a new project, we always consider the rich heritage of Fabergé. The fact that we take into consideration that the design should always mix colors and materials because it was and still is one of the key points of Fabergé. Ingenuity and surprise are required in all of our products. In every piece you need to discover a hidden detail or a little something unexpected.
SG- The concept of the brand in one word is INGENUITY. It’s drawn directly to the character and spirit of our founder, Peter-Carl Fabergé who was at the time a genuine trend-setter, a rule breaker and pioneer. We like ingenuity so much because it goes in the way P-C Fabergé was approaching all of his products at the time.
All of the synonyms that apply to the word ingenuity captures it so well !
We have listed them all : inventiveness, creativity, imagination, originality, innovation, resourcefulness, entreprise, insight, inspiration, perception, intuition, play, artistry, cleverness, geniuses, intelligence, brilliance, mastery, talent, skill, sophistication.
IF YOU HAVE TO PICK ONE ?
SG-Ingenuity … of course! All of the words above are embodied in that one word which is the thought through the entire creative approach of solving a problem and creating something that gives the owner a smile and a sense of satisfaction.
NEW FABERGE AUDIENCE OF CUSTOMERS?
SG-I believe that the correctly put aspiration is for us to make sure that we include and expand our younger audience base. We don’t aim to become a younger brand implying a shift in our strategy but we certainly wish to appeal a younger audience. You have to make sure you offer the right products to the different groups that have a strong passion for Fabergé. It’s an interesting brand study… Not every brand has to overcome that observation.
NOWADAYS, WHO WOULD BE THE TYPICAL FABERGE CLIENT?
In keeping with Fabergé’s DNA, it has to be a client who does things a little differently. The Fabergé client is the client that has been purchasing from the big brands for many years and has grown a fatigue…. By virtue of the uniq