Living with luxury in uncertain times

IT’S HARD to think about luxury during these times — a point with which a purveyor of luxury jewelry surprisingly agrees. Asked what she has learned about luxury during lockdown, Coralie Charriol, said, “Nothing,” a point she found funny, based on her laughter. “Everybody can live without luxury.”

“We’re all in pajamas. Nobody got to travel,” she said.

Ms. Charriol, present CEO of the Charriol jewelry brand and daughter of its founder, the late Philippe Charriol, spoke to reporters from her home in Geneva earlier this month and taught us a bit about living with luxury in uncertain times.

Ms. Charriol did manage to do a little bit of traveling as she confessed during the Zoom meeting. “I was a little bit naughty over confinement and quarantine. Don’t tell any of the Swiss police. I did sneak into Paris for 48 hours to film our campaign,” she said, presenting a video of their new campaign, shot in a hotel in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, featuring twin sisters in casuals and loungewear, showing off their Charriol bracelets and bags.

One of the watches was the Celtic Legacy, a remake of one of her father’s first best selling watches. The reincarnation has a slimmer case, with six strands of their trademark steel and titanium alloy cable going around the case. “The real inspiration was my father and everything he created,” said Ms. Charriol.

While people cannot travel, she did make a point for the rise in e-commerce, a wave they successfully rode. “Our e-store sales are skyrocketing, which is great for us,” said Ms. Charriol.

“People have a little bit more money now, because they didn’t travel. They didn’t go anywhere. They’re still holding on to it because they’re a little bit nervous, but I think once everybody gets the vaccine, I’m hoping that we’re going to have a little bit of fun — because I need a little bit of fun!” she quipped.

She also shared her observations about what people have been buying: “There’s also the top brands; everybody was still buying the top brands. They’re also investing a bit more on timeless pieces, not so much a quick turnaround piece.”

Confinement also leads to inspiration. She pointed to her own creation, the Ocean Tales line. “We’re all at home for the moment, and we’re all dreaming of the ocean.”

Inspired by her love of the oceans, the line includes the Forever Ocean Tale bangles, the cables tinted aquamarine, showing either waves or an underwater motif. A portion of the sales from the Ocean Tale line will go to the Lonely Whale foundation.

Two years ago, she released a Forever watch featuring a turtle motif. Now she is releasing a new version featuring polar bears. She has also begun rolling out plastic-free packaging, noting that the paper bags their company had used had a thin layer of plastic that made it unrecyclable.

The Forever line offers a customizing service that allows names or words to be placed in the bangle. “I’m really into words these days,” she said, showing her bangles with the words “Innovate,” “Balance,” and “Restart” during the Zoom meeting.

“For me, it’s all about a restart right now: a restart for Charriol, for my life, for the world.” — Joseph L. Garcia