Jewelry & Watches

A Conversation with Alessandro Maffi, Managing Director, Middle East and India at Van Cleef & Arpels

Cover Photo by Erik Madigan

Staying true to its heritage, Van Cleef & Arpels chose to begin 2021 with a timeless display of its finest High Jewelry creations. For this special event, the Maison was present at Les Salons Van Cleef & Arpels Dubai Opera to highlight its expert craftsmanship through a stunning selection of 30 Signature, Classic and Thematic marvels.  

Speaking to Azyaamode about this remarkable creativity and the captivating universe of Van Cleef & Arpels is Alessandro Maffi, who has been managing the Maison in the Middle East and India since September 2015. Armed with over 12 years of experience in business development in the retail field, he was the key contributor to the successful development of the House in the region.

How would you define jewelry nowadays?

In my opinion, jewelry is defined by the ability to wear it. It shouldn’t be a piece that is designed to only be showcased in a display window of a boutique; it should rather be created to be worn.

In light of these challenging times, how are you able to get in touch with your clientele?

Things are undoubtedly different now and we abide by every country’s regulation in our process. Despite everything, getting in touch with our clients remains an enchanting pleasure.

When it comes to high jewelry, what is the factor that encourages your clients to invest in pieces without visiting the boutique?

It’s all in the craftsmanship. People are familiar with Van Cleef & Arpels’ unique craftsmanship. They are sure of what they’re buying and they can try the pieces at home, or at the boutique upon appointment. In fact, many services were put in place in order to make the process smoother for the customer.

Being at Les Salons Dubai Opera, how would you describe the impact of this flagship on the business overall?

The journey has been amazing for many reasons. One of the most important ones is that clients have a very homey place to try and enjoy jewelry and conversations. Some of our clientele spend 3 to 4 hours in this boutique – brides, for instance, come accompanied by their white dress to try it on with their wedding jewelry. Being outside the mall and far from traffic areas, this place stands out by its privacy and beautiful service, which both our clients in Dubai and visitors from abroad consider unique. Offering a comfortable environment that pays an ode to the spirit of Van Cleef & Arpels through the butterflies that decorate the setting, this boutique sometimes hosts beautiful and exclusive dinners and lunches for our clients. Set apart with its natural light, Les Salons Van Cleef & Arpels Dubai Opera also offers customers a great perspective on the precious stones they are trying. 

Knowing that Les Salons Van Cleef & Arpels Dubai Opera is the iconic location for the Maison in Dubai, what would be your flagship for KSA?

We have a new store that we inaugurated in Jeddah in Al Khayyat Mall. It’s a two-story space that has a beautiful façade overlooking the luxurious Tahlia Street. It’s a different environment, but it certainly doesn’t lack beauty.

What makes the Maison so successful in the Middle East and worldwide?

Two are the key elements that I don’t define as the secret to success, but I think are very important. The first is the consistency of the Maison. Since the debut of Van Cleef & Arpels, we have always stood out by the very strong values in the way we express ourselves and the way we approach our clients. 

Gardens, nature, butterflies and inspiring stories are at the heart of the Maison’s collections. So, in terms of craftsmanship, our two expert artisans who we call Mains d’Or always make sure the creations are as captivating as their themes. Concerning prices, consistency also sets the tone – which earns us the trust of our clients. This is not all, as the way our team works together is something extremely unique and powerful about Van Cleef & Arpels. Being connected is very important to our success.

If you were to choose one collection to call the “sweetheart” of the Middle East, what would it be?

It would be the iconic Alhambra collection. When you think about Van Cleef & Arpels, you think about jewelry but most people refer to the beautiful Alhambra collection. It features a variety of pieces, different colors of stones and various sizes. The other strong collection is Perlée, which is mostly requested for its wide variety of bracelets and rings. Rings have been historic in the Middle East since the beginning of times and it was all about the power of hands. This is in fact the main reason why Perlée is a collection that speaks to the Middle Eastern women and is very successful thanks to its bangles, cuffs, rings and colors.

In terms of timepieces, what is the most wanted creation?

On this matter, I prefer to talk about the romantic side that has always set the Maison apart. So, the stunning piece is the new “Pont des Amoureux” which allows the lovers to kiss on demand. This watch is an iconic piece of Van Cleef & Arpels and is still very sought after. It embodies the craftsmanship of the Maison in each of its details, from the miniature painting to the setting technique, the kiss and the romantic side. And then, behind the mesmerizing dial, the retrograde movement represents – although the eye can’t see it – the man and the woman who are on the bridge. Therefore, romanticism also takes center stage in the movement, making this timepiece an iconic and beautiful one that all clients love.

What plans do you have for the region?

First of all, we continue our expansion journey in Saudi Arabia with the three boutiques we currently have. In order to give this chapter more exposure, we’re going to bring all the high jewelry creations as well as Alhambra, Frivole and Perlée to KSA. We then want to bring our latest High Jewelry collection and, hopefully, plan an event around that. As for Ramadan, we are preparing a strong campaign around one of our iconic jewelry collections, and we’re joining forces with an artist as we always do. We also want to keep supporting ballet and dance here at Dubai Opera, and there will be beautiful shows coming soon!

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