Reports

    Pomellato CEO Sabina Belli on China’s Changing Jewelry Market

    Since becoming Pomellato CEO in December 2015, Sabina Belli has led its global expansion and efforts to attract a new generation of jewelry lovers.
    Kering-owned Pomellato has seen great success in China in recent years. Image: Courtesy of Pomellato.
      Published   in Hard Luxury

    Founded by Pino Rabolini in Milan in 1967 and acquired by Kering in 2013, Pomellato has made a name for itself as one of the world’s top fine jewelry brands and a perennial favorite among jewelry lovers drawn to its bold use of colors, choice of gems, and organic designs. With more than 30 boutiques worldwide in luxury hotspots such as Paris, New York, and London, in recent years Pomellato has made strong headway in China, which is in the midst of a sustained boom in fine jewelry led by “self-gifting” and younger consumers entering the market.

    Pomellato has adeptly tapped into China’s female empowerment trend that has seen a growing number of international and domestic brands promoting self-care through conscious consumption. As Jing Daily noted earlier this year, “In a society where patriarchal expectations and biases are embedded in traditional family settings and the workplace, it is now the consensus that buying yourself ‘something nice’ has become one of the most tangible forms of self-love or self-respect among women.”

    The brand’s latest efforts in China have included a collaboration with Harper’s Bazaar Jewelry on a video starring actress Zeng Li, designer Lan Yu, writer Hao Jingfang, and editor-in-chief Jing Jing that explores the nuanced identities and many sides of being a woman. This effort came on the heels of a short film released in March featuring Jane Fonda and Cate Blanchett, among other women, speaking about their activism and strength. Pomellato used the same hashtag (#Pomellato for Women) to promote both productions.

    Taking the reins as CEO of the storied Italian brand in December 2015, Sabina Belli oversees Pomellato’s ongoing global expansion and efforts to attract a new generation of jewelry lovers. Recently, Jing Daily caught up with Belli to discuss some of the most popular types of jewelry among China’s emerging “self-buyer,” the brand’s most popular products, and how it approaches the market differently than the rest of the world.

    Jing Daily (JD): What would you say sets the Chinese Pomellato client apart from other Pomellato buyers?#

    Sabina Belli (SB):#

    Pomellato's customer is a fashionably chic woman, and I would say that the brand appeals to those who love Italian unique, handcrafted designs. In China today, just like in many of our European and international cities, we have customers who are clearly jewelry lovers but also customers who are fashionistas, constantly looking for unmistakable details and sophisticated shapes to complete their everyday outfits. Chinese consumers are open-minded, they are looking for newness, uniqueness, and exclusivity. Their attention focuses on brands that are distinctive.

    We also see that Chinese customers are very willing to stack their jewelry, whether it's a NUDO ring or wearing our ICONICA bangles with bracelets they already own, and bold layering is definitely a way to show their individuality and their personal choices.

    Pomellato CEO Sabina Belli. Image: Courtesy of Pomellato.
    Pomellato CEO Sabina Belli. Image: Courtesy of Pomellato.

    JD: What are the strongest jewelry categories and general preferences of this group?#

    SB:#

    Chinese clients have been spoiled for choice for white diamonds over the last 10 years. Pomellato, on the other hand, offers an appealing alternative, with its very modern and contemporary design, the use of rose gold and colorful New Precious gemstones that make the brand the jewels of choice for a fashionably chic style.

    Naturally, our NUDO rings are often a first piece to own. The unique “prong-free” setting resonates with the independent Chinese woman, allowing the full beauty of the gemstone to be enjoyed by all. These are definitely fun and chic colourful gemstones which bring a lot of joy to the clients.

    JD: Which Pomellato collections or products sell best in China, and why do you think that is?#

    SB:#

    For now, clearly NUDO is doing extremely well because of its design, the stunning gemstones from the London Blue topaz, purple amethyst, lemon quartz to the current NUDO exclusive collection for China with precious red tourmaline in a new ring, earrings and a necklace, Fairmined white and rose gold from Peru, and a pavé of white diamonds.

    JD: Pomellato recently launched the new Nuvola Ruby to celebrate Earth Day 2021, promoting its sustainability and traceability. How has the Nuvola Ruby been received in China, and have you seen sustainability becoming a priority among consumers in China?#

    SB#

    : The color red has been synonymous with China and the Chinese customer just loves all the red gemstones from garnets and tourmaline to rubies. Sustainability is a topic that has gained traction in China and we do underline that our jewelry is crafted using 100 percent responsible gold. Pomellato is also a member of the RJC (Responsible Jewelry Council).

    China's new generation of jewelry lover has responded positively to Pomellato's NUDO series. Image: Courtesy of Pomellato.
    China's new generation of jewelry lover has responded positively to Pomellato's NUDO series. Image: Courtesy of Pomellato.

    JD: How does your digital strategy differ in China compared to the West?#

    SB:#

    Digital and social media is enormous in China and this is one of the key strategies when deciding to reaffirm our commitment to expanding in the China market. Our presence on WeChat, with our official account and mini-program (MP) combining communication with the e-commerce platform is really one of a kind in the world. We launched the AR try-on app last February in the MP before the rest of the markets.

    Our digital strategy is to ensure that we provide the best omnichannel experience to our clients in China. We have also just launched our flagship boutique in the Tmall Luxury Pavilion less than ten days ago, and as a luxury fine jewelry brand we are certainly one of the first few international brands to have this presence.

    JD: What about your brick-and-mortar strategy?#

    SB#

    : We are very excited to bring Pomellato to the Chinese clients in their home city. This year we expanded from our three cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu) in six directly operated boutiques across to Guangzhou and will also be in Wuhan later in the year. Our goal is to have expanded our presence geographically to cover a footprint from the north to central, then the south and west of China. However, we remain exclusive and will ensure [that we] provide the best in-store experience, but the plan is to open a few every year in the years to come.

    JD: What do you see as the must-haves of marketing luxury jewelry in China?#

    SB#

    : Customers are very keen to learn more about our gemstones and are willing to spend time on the technical aspects of our gems. We invite our customers to attend exclusive workshops where our specialists and experts talk about gemology, combining design with science to give the luxury jewelry customer an authentic and inspiring journey.

    Special thanks to Silvia Filipponi for facilitating this Q&A.

    Iconica bangles and bracelet by Pomellato. Image: Courtesy of Pomellato.
    Iconica bangles and bracelet by Pomellato. Image: Courtesy of Pomellato.
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