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Jewelry Brands Look to Capitalize on Accessories

Jewelry brands such as Cartier, de Grisogono, Bulgari, Asprey and Chopard may bring to mind high-wattage sparklers but, spurred by the enduring "It" bag trend, a growing number of fine jewelers are extending their monikers and glitzy heritages to...

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with contributions from Lucie Greene
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PARIS — Jewelry brands such as Cartier, de Grisogono, Bulgari, Asprey and Chopard may bring to mind high-wattage sparklers but, spurred by the enduring "It" bag trend, a growing number of fine jewelers are extending their monikers and glitzy heritages to leather goods lines.

Having introduced bags in 1997, Bulgari's "aggressive pursuit" of the leather goods category, according to chief executive officer Francesco Trapani, took off two years ago. Today, the brand counts five accessories-only stores, including its new Rome flagship.

"The traffic in the accessories stores is different from that of the jewelry stores," said Trapani, referring to a younger clientele on the hunt for products retailing for under $1,500.

Chopard is also looking to carve out a separate retail channel for its leather goods, having opened its first accessories-only store in Kuwait in 2006, followed by another in Dubai this year.

"There is a huge potential for our accessories in some regions and at the same time we need to protect [our] high jewelry clientele," said Davide Traxler, director of Chopard in Italy.

Citing "high-double-digit growth" for the bag line since its launch in 2004, Traxler hinted that more accessories-only stores are in the works.

"It is in fact a response to demand," he said, adding the spring line will include white ostrich, rose gold finishes and "reptiles galore."

"The fashion world has invaded the bag world and that's the real phenomenon," said Pierre Rainero, Cartier's director of strategy and patrimony.

Cartier launched its best-selling Marcello bag line in June, backed by a robust media campaign. While the event marks the jeweler's first foray into day bags, the house is no stranger to accessories.

"In the 19th century, it was common practice for a lady to go to Cartier for any variety of elegant accoutrements, be it an umbrella decorated with ivory and coral, say, or a bag," said Rainero, adding that Cartier's first bag department opened in the Twenties, offering a range of leather and fabric styles. "We aim to resurrect that [universe]. We are a jewelry house, but we have always had in-house savoir-faire for bags. And we have an incredible archive of designs."
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