Luxos interviews Geoffroy Medinger, Brand Director UK at Van Cleef & Arpels
Let's imagine luxury travellers coming to London, visitng the city. What kind of experience can they expect on Bond Street, where the Van Cleef & Arpels boutique is located?
I think anyone coming to London has to come to Bond Street at some point. It has really come to life in these past five to seven years. This is where all the jewellery brands are, and this is a place that still has a soul. On Bond Street, there are also arcades with very nice shops that sell antiques, silverware, watches and so on. You can go from window and window, and see what all the most beautiful brands and maisons have to offer. When you come to our store, it's not a museum. You know you are going to be surrounded by vivid beauty.
How would you describe Van Cleef & Arpels?
Van Cleef & Arpels is quite unique in the world of jewellery because of our quest for excellence. We always focus on perfection, the quality of the gems and the craftsmanship. The stones we use are absolute perfection. The design has a very strong signature – either you like it or don't, like a Picasso painting. And our creations are fully of energy; they have a soul, or a signature. You can recognize a Van Cleef & Arpels piece immediately, not just from the materials and design, but also from its craftsmanship. It's our job to push the limit of what people expect. By exploring new boundaries in the imaginative world, we venture into new territories in the jewellery world too.
When people buy a Van Cleef & Arpels piece, they know that it will maintain its value over time because of its quality. In 2009 during the economic crisis, people really thought hard about the things they were buying, but Van Cleef & Arpels came through the crisis. We have exclusive collections with very uniques pieces. Our creations can be admired again and again, down to the smallest details.
How does Van Cleef & Arpels make sure all that all its boutiques provide great service?
First, you have find people with talent and passion. Then, we want the service to be perfect. The moment you spend with us is as important as the piece itself. We share the most important moments in people's lives: engagements, anniversaries, new babies, etc. So, we do trainings, and make sure the staff know everything about the pieces, because our customers are jewellery expects and some are even gemmologists. For us it's about being able to convey beauty and passion. Our maison is about magic, happiness and love.
Can you describe the process of making special orders at the boutiques?
We have many unique pieces in our collections. Due to the precious materials we use, no two pieces of jewellery and watch are exactly the same. But if you are looking for something unique, our team in Paris will design it for you. For example, these days we have been working on a special order for a diamond ring. The customer purchased a pink diamond, and we came up with about 40 different designs for her to choose. We talked about it together, and she fell in love with one model.
Can you tell us about Chinese travellers in London?
It was since 2009 and in particular the summer of 2010 when we noticed more Chinese coming to London. They particularly like our watches. They look for personality behind a timepiece. They want to know everything about it: from the craftsmanship to our expertise. Above all, they want to know about French luxury. The "Le Pont des Amoureux" watch launched last year was a huge success among our Chinese customers. They also love the Charms watches, and many of them also come to our Bond Street boutique looking for bridal jewellery, solitaires and so on.
How do you cater to the needs of the Chinese customers?
We have lots of special materials prepared for them, from magazines and catalogues in Chinese to the shopping maps of London. How Van Cleef & Arpels differs from a brand is that we are a maison, and a maison is full of friends. Any customer coming to Van Cleef & Arpels can expect something that goes beyond just a buying experience.
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