Archive for January, 2010

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Buying in Switzerland: Lisa’s Blog Part VII

January 22, 2010

Bonjour!
This morning started with a meeting at the Raymond Weil headquarters. We met with the 3rd generation of the family to see all the latest product. We were able to see the new prototypes that won’t premier until Basel in two months and give our input. Very exciting product!

We also met with a few other watch brands and discussed opportunities for growth.

This evening I had the opportunity to really see Geneva, and I was shown the city by a native. What a spectacular city! I really believe that it is one of the prettiest I have ever seen. There is a walled section that contains the oldest buildings, but the newer ones (built in the last 300 years) were beautifully built as well. It really felt like a great city to live in (as well as to visit) between the culture, the food, and the scenery.

I had a lovely evening with a business associate and friend. He and his brother are not only in the watch industry, but restauranteurs as well.

What a perfect way to end my time in Europe!

Bon soir!
Lisa

View Across Lake Geneva with Mont Blanc in the Background

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Buying in Switzerland: Lisa’s Blog Part VI

January 20, 2010

Bonjour,

We just finished our first full day in Geneva. It’s amazing how different this fair is from Vicenza. This show, Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie Geneva, is all about high end watch brands. The Vicenza show had hall after hall full of jewelry. This show, on the other hand, has exponentially fewer manufacturers, but exponentially larger booths. This fair is specifically focused on displaying new merchandise. Each brand is excited to show off their new innovations in design and technology.

IWC Portuguese Yacht Club Chronograph

IWC Portuguese Yacht Club Chronograph

The booths are unbelievable! IWC’s booth was themed to go along with the latest additions to their Portuguese collection. Apparently, all of the watchimages for this year were taken on a particular yacht so the whole booth was nautical themed. There were wood floors with cleats, a ceiling that looked like it was a collection of sails, and a front desk shaped like the bow of a boat (they were just missing an anchor). There was no doubt which watch was being highlighted. Their watches are beautiful and clean. One of their watches, the “Da Vinci”, is made of both ceramic and titanium to make it light weight and durable. What a great combo!

I found interesting to see that Ralph Lauren has created a watch brand. They just began selling their pieces a few months ago. The established fashion brand has paired with Richemont (owners of Cartier and Piaget) to create a real luxury watch brand. The merchandise was beautiful, I’m curious to hear more about the line.

Baume and Mercier continue to make a clean, elegant watch. They are narrowing the number of watches produced to create a more streamlined collection. The new selection of watches needed to be chosen today, so Peter had to make the decisions. We are going to label them “Peter’s Picks” and he is responsible for their eventual success. Sorry Katie!

Panerai 339

Panerai had a cool new innovation in watch cases. One of their new watches, PAM00339, has an aluminum oxide case. To make this durable case, it is first stamped out of aluminum and then is dipped in a special mixture that includes oxygen molecules. The oxygen atoms join the compound and create a case that is harder than ceramic. Innovation never ceases to amaze me.

Tomorrow is my last full day in Europe and we only have a few more appointments to attend. I know that tomorrow will bring something else interesting, so I can’t wait to see what else is creative and different out there.

Bon soir!

Lisa

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Buying in Italy and Switzerland: Lisa’s Blog Part V

January 20, 2010

Bonjour!

Artisan creating a unique hammered finish

This morning we went on another factory tour, this time it was outside of the city. We arrived and the “factory” looked like someone’s home! In fact, our tour guide lives right next door and walks to work!

I was again utterly impressed by how much work goes in to making a single piece. I have loved our Toscano cuff bracelet for years and we saw someone hammering the metal by hand to create the hammered finish.

Laura and I were fascinated by the beads this company makes. To make a round bead. for example, they cut out a sort of four lead clover. Then they squish it in between pieces of metal until it looks like a tulip, and then shape it in to a bead soldering the edges together. What patience it takes to make one single bead!

Mid-day Peter, Jeanne, and I left Laura and Vicenza to head for the airport. We flew Babboo airlines (yes, you read that correctly, Babboo) to Geneva. I have to say I was a bit frightened for my life getting on to such a tiny plane on an airline only one person I knew had ever heard of, but we made it safely!

It was clear and beautiful flying over the mountains and in to Geneva. The city sits on Lake Geneva and faces the snow-capped mountains. The buildings are all ornate with intricate details along their walls.

Tonight we had dinner hosted by one of our watch companies and with a number of other retailers. I enjoyed getting to know people from other parts of the country and hearing about their business.

Tomorrow we will go to the watch show here in Geneva.

(I know I am now in Switzerland, but I am still going to say it…)
Ciao for now!

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Buying in Italy: Lisa’s Blog Post IV

January 19, 2010

Bon giorno!

We started today with a tour of a jewlery manufacturer. I have seen videos of jewelry being made, but hadn’t ever seen it from start to finish quite like this. This company makes all parts of their jewelry right here in Vicenza. The amount of skill that you have to have for each step of the process is immense. Each cut out in a piece is hand-polished to remove rough edges, minuscule diamonds are set by hand, and the owner’s son (our tourguide Marco) gets up in the middle of the night to change the gold being cut by an exacting machine.

When Laura said that they put their love in to the jewelry, Mario corrected her and said they put their soul in to it. You can easily see that it’s true.

I loved walking through and seeing pieces that I recognized from our stores in varying stages of assemblage.

After the tour we looked at their incredible amount of jewelry. It was hard not to fall in love with everything after seeing what it takes to make each piece.

Tonight Laura and I joined one of our vendors for an unbelievable authentic Italian meal. We went to a restaurant that had three tables and the owner/chef cooked right in front of us using a stove and an open fire. It was an enchanting meal, and we both left utterly

and completely stuffed.

We are going on another tour tomorrow morning and then Peter, Jeanne and I are leaving Laura and Vicenza for Geneva.

Ciao for now!
Lisa

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Buying in Italy: Lisa’s Blog Post III

January 18, 2010

Bon Giorno!
Whew! What a busy day! We saw lots of fresh, new jewelry.

The morning started with a vendor from Turkey. I found it fascinating to find that there has been a big increase in gold production in Turkey over the last few years (though they are producing with all Italian machinery). They seemed capable of making many different types of merchandise, from tubing to casting to anything you could want. Laura is working on some very fun projects with them.

We went back to the vendor who made the iconic Toscano suite we advertised this fall. The designer had more rings then we knew what to do with! Most of the pieces were big and bold, and I could have worn any number of them right out of the booth.

Peter really liked a pendant that looked like stained glass but was made with enamel in gold.

Laura says that her favorite piece has to be the name necklace we saw towards the end of the day. It looked like an updated Carrie Bradshaw necklace that can be made in Italy and delivered to the store in 10 days.

My favorite was a rose gold necklace that had pinky pearls, dark pink enamel, and Tourmaline.

New Italian for today: not only does amo mean love, it also means wire. Somehow te amo doesn’t sound as romantic when it means I wire you!

Ciao for now!
Lisa

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Buying in Italy: Lisa’s Blog Part II

January 16, 2010

Buon Giorno!

We finished our first night with a walk through the town of Vicenza. It looks just like what you’d expect an old European city to look like. It is a walled city with cobblestone streets magically lit up by strings of white lights. The old and the new collided as we strolled beneath columns to the sound of Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA” blasting from a store.

Today, we walked the show looking for creative and new merchandise. We selected colorful suites of gemstones and enamel from a company that hasn’t ever done business in the US. We also found a possible new chain manufacturer in Barcelona.

Later in the afternoon we had a few appointments with current vendors.

We grabbed a cappuccino with one of our vendors who participated in our Italia ’09 event. They are so incredibly passionate about their product. It is all hand made about four hours south of here, and is beautiful. They don’t speak much English and we speak even less Italian, so needless to say we used our hands a lot!

Our last appointment of the evening was with the World Gold Council. We discussed the enduring value of gold. While so many people are abandoning gold due to its high price, it has been prized for thousands of years and it will continue to be sought by people who see its intrinsic value.

My favorite piece today was a pink and black enameled circular disk pendant from the sisters who haven’t worked in the US before.  Laura’s was a similar piece, but in black and white enamel set in 18kt gold. The fact that we both chose it independently must mean it’s going to be a winner!

We are looking forward to starting tomorrow morning looking at gold in the Turkish pavilion.

Ciao for now!
Lisa

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Buying in Italy: Lisa’s Blog Part I

January 15, 2010
Lisa Bridge, Assistant Diamond Buyer, is traveling in Italy to find the best and most interesting new jewelry for the coming year. She will keep us updated as she scours the country for unique pieces that will be coming to a Ben Bridge store near you soon!
 
 
I just arrived in Vicenza with Peter and Jeanne Luplow (VP merchandising and appraisals) and Laura Barringer (color and gold buyer). We all traveled separately but made it safely and with all of our luggage. First success!
 
Peter drove the 40 minutes (well what should have been 40 minutes) to our hotel. We took the scenic route through the city around round about after round about to arrive at our little modern hotel.
 
In an effort to get on to the right time zone we decided to head in to the town of Vicenza to walk around and grab dinner.
Tomorrow we don’t have many appointments in order to have time to find new talent and designs. I can’t wait!

Ciao for now!

Lisa

Lisa Bridge, G.G., Assistant Diamond Buyer