Continuing on this month’s gold theme, Professional Jeweller speaks to Chimento chief executive officer Mario Chimento, to find out more about the family business and how it plans to grow in the UK market.
In January we reported that Italian fine jewellery brands are enjoying a period of growth and rising popularity in the UK market, thanks in part to the positive developments at Chimento — a prestigious jewellery house and family-run business since 1964.
Earlier this year the brand’s export manager Michele Battaglioli appointed Matt McCawley and Travis Burne of BurneMcCawley as sales agents for the UK. As a result, the number of doors stocking the brand has jumped to around 30, and is likely to grow with more consistent appearances at trade shows and buyers’ meetings. Battaglioi, who joined the company in September 2014, now aims to reach 70 UK doors in the next three years, promising to be the “Italian jewellery brand for the British family”. Talking exclusively to Professional Jeweller, Chimento chief executive officer Mario Chimento explains the brand’s ethos, its design aesthetic and its plans for international markets.
Professional Jeweller: How would you describe the Chimento brand?
Mario Chimento: Made in Italy, quality craftsmanship and value for money. Innovation is also a distinctive element for Chimento and we have introduced several innovative products, such as the flexible bracelets and necklaces in the Stretch collection, and the reversible jewellery in the Double collection.
PJ: Can you tell us more about the Chimento ethos?
MC: Since 1964, we have designed and produced classic jewellery with a contemporary look in our factory in Italy. We offer fine creations which never go out of fashion, but whose beauty and authenticity last for a long time. Of course, we follow industry and fashion trends, however we never lose the relationship with the heritage of the company. On one side we have the Chimento evergreen products, such as the Bamboo chain, which are never discontinued. And on the other we present new collections twice per year often reinterpreting elements that are already present and have resulted in success. Our new collection Armillas is a good example, because it takes inspiration from our best-selling collections from the 1980s and 1990s, Attimi and Vulcano.
PJ: Who is the typical Chimento customer?
MC: Together with an interest in timeless design, the Chimento customer is keen on value for money. We are aware that purchasing a jewel means making an investment, and for this reason, alongside the international warranty for two years, we offer an insurance against theft valid for 18 month from the purchase date.
PJ: Has the market for gold jewellery changed in recent years?
MC: In the last 10 years jewellery has been focused more and more on brands. Brand identity means a clear USP, recognisable products and defined values. Market needs have changed as well, with the final consumer looking for versatile fine jewellery to wear everyday and not only on special occasions. Chimento offers the Double collection, for example, which you can wear on the yellow gold side during the day and on the white gold side in the evening.
PJ: Have you seen any changes in demand in the last 12 months?
MC: In the last 12 months we have seen significant growth in fine jewellery demand, which has been helped by the decreasing price of gold. We think that yellow gold is growing in popularity among younger generations too. ‘Made in Italy’ is still considered a plus and Italian design – symmetry, round shapes and clean lines – has a strong appeal worldwide. Last September we approached the UK market with a core range of six collections (Armillas, Bamboo, Stretch, Link, Double and Stardust) with prices ranging from £200 to £2,500 Market feedback has been enthusiastic with 30 independents taking the brand on.
PJ: Internationally, which markets are strong for Chimento and where is the brand still developing?
MC: Italy is still the biggest market for Chimento, but international markets have grown significantly for us with a strong focus on Europe. 15 years ago we started distributing in the US and in Japan. In the Middle East we deal directly with royal families, who are often in Milan visiting us at our mono-brand boutique on Via della Spiga.
PJ: What are your plans for marketing and growth in the UK?
MC: Marketing budget in 2015 has been focused on local advertising in cooperation with our official retailers. Their success is crucial for the long-term success and development of Chimento in the UK. We usually meet our clients at Vicenza or Baselworld shows, but we enjoy visiting them and investing time and effort in product, brand training, window deco ration and incentive programmes. In 2015, we were selected as official suppliers to Houlden Group and the Company of Master Jewellers and we got positive feedback at their meetings. In the future, we will consider the possibility of exhibiting at Jewellery & Watch Birmingham or IJL — they are primary windows at a local and international level.
PJ: What collections have been particularly successful in the UK?
MC: Armillas, which has a price range between £470 and £1,250, has been popular in the UK and it is available in white, yellow and rose gold. The collection goes back to Chimento’s origins as artist goldsmiths, making gold the one and only protagonist in the overall story.
PJ: As a family owned and operated company, how do you balance family with business?
MC: The company and family are the same; you can’t distinguish them as they inevitably overlap. We still own and control 100% of the company shares. Adriano Chimento, my father, is founder and president of Chimento Gioiellieri llc and he oversees the production process and international development. Federica Chimento, my sister, is president of Chimento Corporation — a distribution company developing business in the USA, Canada and Latin America. For this reason, our private meetings always become opportunities to talk about work, sharing our point of view on strategies, new collections, performance and trends. We are aware that we need additional professionals with different backgrounds and experience in order to face international competition, which is why we have hired people to support our international growth in the last two years.
PJ: What do you think defines Chimento’s success?
MC: Chimento’s success is generated by genuine passion, positive initiative and our lifelong experience as a goldsmithing family. We’ve used all of these things to transform art into an internationally recognised brand.
This feature originally appeared in the July issue of Professional Jeweller, read it online here.