What is Chaumet’s Strategy?

Isabelle Hossenlopp

In a rare interview with the Financial Times on May 10, Chaumet’s new CEO Charles Leung offered his analysis of the company’s strategy.

Charles Leung, originally from Hong Kong, has been appointed as the head of a major French luxury house. This appointment likely reflects LVMH’s intention to value experienced talent from the Asian continent. Despite its issues, China still has growth potential. Could India follow suit? The Indian subcontinent has been tipped as the next luxury goods market, with luxury groups already starting to gain a foothold there.

Charles Leung first joined Chaumet in 2006, where he helped develop the Chinese market before becoming responsible for the Asia-Pacific region and the international side of the business in turn.

He was appointed CEO of Fred in 2018, helping the company pivot to high jewelry to enhance its image, which relied too heavily on the power of the iconic Force 10. Leung used his well-honed communication skills to shine a spotlight back on the brand’s storytelling, launching a book and exhibition entitled “Fred joaillier créateur depuis 1936” at the Palais de Tokyo in 2022. He then took a major step by setting lab-grown blue diamonds on high jewelry pieces. It may well have been a trial run, but some saw it as a red line crossed. Was it sacrilegious or visionary?

Either way, reliable sources confirm that lab-grown diamonds are not on the agenda at Chaumet. Charles Leung’s strategy is certainly not about shaking things up. In his interview with the FT, the newly appointed CEO said he is determined to pursue a strategy based on heritage, expertise and style, and explains why storytelling around origins, inspirations and roots is essential for a luxury brand. 

Enduring icons, modernized.

Iconic pieces remain in the limelight, such as Chaumet’s Joséphine collection, named after the empress and wife of Napoleon, the jeweler’s most famous customer (the jeweler Nitot at the time, as Joseph Chaumet did not acquire the workshops until later, in 1885). The Bee My Love collection also remains at the fore, inspired by the Napoleonic bee and a major hit with young people.

Charles Leung’s strategy is to simultaneously preserve and revitalize the offering, in order to open up the “club”, reach a younger market and broaden the circle. As he tells the FT, “We don’t want to be stuck in the 19th century, we’re in the 21st century”.

Jewelry as a form of personal expression for men

Another objective is to attract male customers by using Napoleon as a source of inspiration, in the same way that Josephine was used to inspire women. In the past few years, Cartier, Boucheron and more recently, Mellerio (a rather unexpected move), have not held back with their strong masculine messaging, displaying their creations on male models. For young men, wearing jewelry as a form of personal expression is a trend that will continue to grow. Leung cites Chaumet ambassador Cha Eun-woo as an example, a Korean actor and singer for whom the jeweler aims to create bespoke pieces. “The idea is to create fine jewelry that he can wear to help enhance his personality and his distinctive masculinity,” explains the CEO.

There is a cultural difference at play here, most importantly. According to jewelry historian Ghislain Aucremanne, Asian men are less reserved than their European counterparts when it comes to wearing jewelry, because they do not share the same cultural background or taboos. While Charles Leung is certainly influenced by his culture and the years spent in Asia, he is also pragmatic, given the sheer size of the jewelry market in the Far East, including the male market. He is also fairly optimistic that China will regain confidence and return to growth.

Read the full interview HERE