All text, and images © 2014, Debra Healy
unless otherwise stated.

Friday, January 20, 2012

French Jewelry Today Part 5-Mauboussin

 Mauboussin's metro campaign

 Mauboussin traces it's history to 1827 to a Monsieur Rocher who was succeeded by his collaborator Monsieur Noury In 1869.  Georges Mauboussin, a nephew, joined the firm in  1898. The business became known as B. Noury, G. Mauboussin. They sold jewelry in the prevailing styles, short hand for no style of their own.

Vanity case, gold diamonds enamel, onyx, and mother-of-pearl, exhibited in 1925.

In 1925 Mauboussin exhibited in the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs where they won a Grand Prix. By this time they were developing a distinctive style of their own. Mauboussin attracted the wealthy Europeans, Indians prince, American millionaires, and Hollywood film stars as clients.

 Mauboussin bracelet, chalcedony, agate, rose quartz, mother of pearl and diamonds 1927.

Goerge Mauboussin's son Pierre Mauboussin  understood the power of the silver screen when he bejeweled  some of Hollywood's leading ladies. This was prescient, if he lent the jewelry to a photo shoot  he required a credit for the jewelry to be assigned to the photograph. He would eventually leave the business to pursue a career in aviation.
Actress Clare Luce wears Mauboussin Jewelry left. 
Her emerald  and diamond necklace right
On October  1, 1929 they opened a new salon in New York city, as it turned out it was very inauspicious timing.  The stock market crashed on October 29, 1929. The great depression followed, and business suffered. The Parisian firm was left with a large inventory in America,  they were anxious to withdraw with minimum losses. Mauboussin reached an agreement with the American firm Trabert & Hoeffer which would  assume the name Trabert & Hoeffer-Mauboussin.
Section of an advertisment in American Vogue, 1945
Marlene Dietrich

Marlene Dietrich's  Trabert & Hoeffer-Mauboussin emerald and diamond bracelet.

Trabert & Hoeffer-Mauboussin bracelet, citrine amethyst 
and diamonds set in yellow gold
Mid 1930's. 

Trabert & Hoeffer-Mauboussin produced some of the most dazzling American jewelry of the 1930's and 1940's.  The associated trademark continued until the 1950's. 
 Bird Brooch,  signed Mauboussin Paris 1968,
turquoise, gold, sapphires, rubies, emeralds,and diamonds.

Mauboussin  opened a store on the Place Vendôme 1946. In 2002 Mauboussin was sold to the Swiss ficancier, Dominique Fremont.  He hired Alain Némarq as CEO. Michel Gutsatz wrote a very insightful article about Mauboussin's new direction here.

The  Mauboussin jewelry today is no longer even made in France according to Alain Némarq in a rescent article Mauboussin le joaillier Iconoclaste in the magazine Dreams Ete 2011, it is made in China.  Do you think these products still  bear the charm and refinement of Parisian art? 
(Quote from the vintage add above). One of the distinguishing features of this brand was its "Frenchness".  The styles are commercial, and look like jewelry one would expect to see being sold  in mass market retailers in the United Sates.  QVC  also uses the name "Rose de France" for the pale-pinkish heat-treated amethyst seen in the ring on the right below.   It seems they have managed to make 18 k gold  jewelry look like inexpensive silver jewelry.  Does Mauboussin's new direction reflect the brands heritage in any way? 

Mauboussin window Place Vendôme Paris. 
Pendant and rings set with blue topaz, amethyst, citrine, and pale amethyst ( Rose de France) set in 18k white gold.

Mauboussin  window 
The styling of these watches  look like inexpensive Taiwanese knock-offs.

In my opinion the sharp points of this necklace look potentially dangerous, almost like a weapon rather than a piece of jewelry.  It reminds me of a ninja throwing star.

  An authentic  ninja throwing star

 The windows make the jewelry look cheap not chic.

Its like dragging the Mauboussin name down into the ground. Which is where  they are running their advertising campaign in the Paris Metro.
Champs-Élysées store summer 2011

"Mauboussin has five stores in addition to the New York flagship — in Tokyo, Marseille and Luxembourg, as
well as two in Paris, on the Place Vendôme and the Champs-Élysées. Another store scheduled for Singapore. The jewelry also sells at 200 boutiques worldwide.
Prices start at about $300 and go up to about $15 million" WWD

Tokyo French jeweler's diamond giveaway draws long lines 
Tuesday, June 2, 2009

"Lines curled around for blocks in Tokyo's Ginza district Monday for 5,000 tiny but free diamonds French jeweler Mauboussin was giving away in an attention-getting drive.
'The value of a diamond doesn't go down. And you never get tired of a diamond,' said Noriko Suzumaru, a 39-year-old housewife who jumped on a train from Kawasaki to stand in line after learning about the giveaway.
Suzumaru was among a crowd of bargain-hunters lined up for the 0.1 carat diamonds Mauboussin was offering to its first 5,000 customers. The gems are valued at about ¥5,000.
Mauboussin, founded 181 years ago in France, is encouraging people to get their free diamond made into rings and pendants at its store. But that will come at a cost, starting at about ¥50,000.
Mauboussin's flagship Japan store opened in Ginza in February.
But the store had often been empty because its name, though associated with international celebrities, isn't widely recognized among Japanese.
Many still don't even know how to correctly pronounce the name of the store."  From the Associated Press

In the Japanese language there is no word for "Jewelry" there is a word for precious stone, it is Hoseki.

Last year  I was contacted by Marguerite de Cherval the author of two books about Mauboussin. She had been hired to produce an exhibition  tentatively titled "Mauboussin 100 Years of Service to Women". She wanted to find out where the beautiful vintage Mauboussin Jewelry was,  jewelry like the jewels I had  photographed for my books Hollywood Jewels, and American Jewelry : Glamour and Tradition.  

This news lead me to wonder about why a brand would have an exhibition? For example  was the recent Bulgari exhibition at the Grand Palais  part of the prelude to their acquisition by LVMH?

 Or could a proposed Mauboussin exhibition be a first step in an effort to reconnect and re-evaluate their own heritage, and their own design capital?

I can think of  many elements in the Mauboussin archives that are gutsy and potentially show-stopping.  As I have said before this is a highly specialized skill  “to read the archives” and know what to do with them. Very few individuals or companies have this ability or the organizational  support to develop it.
Two examples of brands that do this exceedingly well are Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels both owned by Compagnie Financière Richemont SA.

I have always thought a brand should fulfill  a set of promises. One expects it to deliver unique identifiable products that are differentiated.  Consumers also want to be in the club of the cognoscenti with a well communicated story of its origin and identity. When a brand is healthy it is evocative and informative communicating its essences though it products and services.  It accumulates goodwill and symbolic value that evokes an emotional response and consumer loyalty. A brilliant example of a company that delivers this promise of fulfillment is Hermes.

 Place Vendôme, Paris November 14, 2011

In Mauboussin's  radical departure from its heritage and design history I feel few of these promises are delivered  through the products, windows, or in the advertisements.

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