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De Vroomen, who designs and makes all of his jewelry himself in the workshop below his store, and sells his line at Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, also took a swipe at the "lifestyle brand" concept. "Lifestyle branding is a wonderful thing, but jewelry doesn’t belong in the context of a lifestyle brand," he said. "It has such a long life span. It supposed to get passed down through generations, and it’s supposed to be exquisite in its own right. Brands do not last forever, but a piece of jewelry does."
De Beers’ Lussier said there is room for everyone — branded and unbranded alike. "The branded jewelry business will not dominate the market," he said. "It will have a significant, but minority, percentage of the sector."
The entry into fine jewelry of luxury behemoths like Gucci and LVMH may, however, make it even tougher for the smaller player. Theo Fennell, the publicly-traded London-based jeweler that counts Elton John, David Beckham and Elizabeth Hurley among its clients, issued a warning in early March saying that profits would be below expectations after a "disappointing" Christmas and that full-year results would show a "modest" profit.
De Vroomen, too, conceded that business has been quiet over the eight months since he opened his first freestanding store in London. "I don’t know whether to blame it on the war, the troubled economy, or the fact that I’m new here," he said, "but I’m hoping the worst is over and that things will get better."