PARIS — After three years of repositioning that included the launch of watches and a perfume, French jeweler Mellerio is ready for its next step — in the U.S.
The 411-year-old family-owned house, which counts the likes of Marie de Médici and Marie-Antoinette in its roster of royal clients, has landed at Bergdorf Goodman until October.
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For Laure-Isabelle Mellerio, artistic director and member of the family’s 14th generation, there is a natural fit between the American customer and the house’s exuberant designs.
Among the pieces she expects to find traction are the Color Queen rings, with central stones such as tsavorites and sapphires the size of boiled sweets and meant to be collected — in a bespoke Goyard trunk like the one on display in its ground-floor corner.
“When [American consumers] come to us in Paris, color and volume is what they love and that’s what sets us apart from other houses,” she said. “We believe our relaxed outlook on jewelry will resonate and meet their expectations.”
Landing at Bergdorf Goodman was the ideal start to 2024, which general manager Christophe Mélard defined as “a year of amplification of our international presence” that he hopes will lead to doubling its business in the next two years.
In addition to its Paris flagship, the brand counts less than 10 doors across Europe with high-end jewelry retailers and another eight in Japan, through a local partner.
The U.S. is “very strategic for Mellerio’s future as a market of opportunity for the house but it’s a demanding market where no one is waiting for us,” said Mélard. “The idea is not to head over and open doors without building the required desirability.”
And that desirability materialized in the shape of the “Cabinet de Curiosités,” or curio cabinet, launched last year.
With its assortment of charms that range from 1,400 euros for a delicate filigree design to 27,500 euros for a complete bracelet and even 95,000 euros for the 18-karat gold “Talisman Soleil” medal encrusted with 10 carats’ worth of gemstones, this epitomizes the historic house’s approach to fine and even high jewelry, according to Mélard.
“We believe that the American clientele, who is more open budget-wise than the European client, will resonate with this,” he said. “It’s jewelry to be worn every day, even when pieces are voluminous, embellished to the point where they feel like they could be costume jewelry.”
According to both executives, managing to convince a U.S. partner of the stature of the department store is the culmination of a three-year effort that included the launch of the lower-priced Muse fine jewelry line that draws from the archive; broaching the watch market with a Swiss-made ovoid M Cut timepiece that nods to its signature diamond cut, and even building a budding male consumer base, symbolized by its choice of ballet dancer Hugo Marchand as a face of the brand.
“This shows how much Mellerio had the potential to redeploy on the market,” said the executive, who said the company had tripled its global turnover and doubled its Japan activity since his 2021 arrival, although the privately held company does not disclose its figures.
For Mélard, the continued success of Mellerio from its Renaissance roots is its ability to be at once “a contemporary brand that appeals to clients of its time but a brand rooted in its heritage that has time before itself.”
In his opinion, the brand’s price position in the U.S. market, where it will be between $10,000 and $250,000, places it as “rather reasonable and reasoned in the high jewelry market” but also “akin to a work of art that will appreciate over time.”
“We are convinced that we appeal to American clients,” continued Mélard, adding that visitors to the Paris flagship hailed from Texas, California and Florida. “Now we have to start by winning the hearts of New Yorkers.”
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