Cartier wrapped up its largest presentation of contemporary high jewelry yet in Shanghai on December 3, in an investment that suggests the French luxury goods maker is still optimistic about the mainland market. The 10-day exhibition on The Bund, which took clients through a maze of lights and mirrors, unveiled several new pieces to Chinese consumers as part of their world debut in Cartier’s Magicien collection.
“China is an important market for Cartier, and high jewelry is our root,” Cartier said it a press statement. “As such we are dedicated to continue bringing our latest high jewelry collection to our Chinese audience, as it brings with it a high level of innovation and creativity.”
The display showcased more than 400 pieces in total that were categorized into three different themes that spanned both jewelry and watches. The first focused on light’s impact on a diamond, the second on geometry with Art Deco influences, and the third encapsulated animals and flowers, featuring series of rings, necklaces, bracelets, and horlogerie that worked in leopards, cockatoos, and snakes. Brand new pieces launched in Shanghai for the first time included the Shamash necklace accentuated with a 17.91-carat ruby and a Double Jeu bracelet that can be separated into two distinct pieces and has versatile presentations.
Cartier’s exhibition comes shortly after Cartier’s parent company Richemont announced it will do away with its CEO and replace him with Executive Chairman Johann Rupert as global profits dropped 51 percent in the first half. Despite the sales turmoil stemming from slowing tourism in France after terrorist attacks and a slowdown of incoming mainland Chinese tourists into Hong Kong forcing buybacks at Richemont’s companies (including Cartier), Richemont has maintained that it sees “continuing growth” in mainland China, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Cartier’s China CEO wasn’t available to comment specifically on mainland China sales or why Cartier chose this year to open its exhibition to the general public. For the first time, the French jewelry brand opened its high jewelry show to everyone for one day on December 3. Cartier said in a statement it wanted to share its “passion for art and unique approach to craftsmanship with a broader public in China,” suggesting a possible branding move to help aspiring clients become more familiar with Cartier’s designs in person, as well as inspire those who might be able to buy other pieces at lower price points.
For example, Cartier displayed at its exhibition a diamond-covered, high jewelry version of its Juste un Clou series, its signature nail-shape bracelet that has been particularly popular among wealthy Chinese consumers. The Juste un Clou comes in a range of prices and styles with and without diamonds, with prices starting at around a less expensive US$6,800 compared to more than US$86,000.
But even without a general public opening, China’s consumers who follow Chinese mega-celebrity Fan Bingbing’s Instagram would have been able to see that she made it over to the exhibition last week, along with other high society figures, including female talk show host Chen Luyu and movie director Li Shaohong. The exhibition concluded in Shanghai after launching in Cartier’s Tokyo flagship in October.