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Lifestyle Curators for Thailand + Southeast Asia

Designing Identity

  /  LE Lifestyle   /  Shopping   /  Designing Identity
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Cadeaux Jewelry designs showcase a conscious identity, whether in the Two Prong setting, geometrical forms, or ‘jewelry without fear’.

By Percy Roxas.

Jewelry. Who isn’t enamored with it? Men or women, young or old, rich or poor, we all know how jewelry items of extraordinary beauty and style can elevate not only our outfit but also our persona. Whether buying jewelry for ourselves or as a gift for our loved ones, one particular jewelry brand and retailer in Bangkok offers us reasons to buy it, especially this holiday season: – Cadeaux Jewelry, with its impressive jewelry lines that range from the classic and the legendary to the daring and the unusual.

Located at the posh Peninsula Plaza on Rajdamri Road, Cadeaux Jewelry (Thailand) run by Philip Baechtold, CEO, and his wife, is one of the most reputable jewelry shops in the kingdom, no less than the sole retailer of the brand that was first launched in 1975 by innovative sculptor and goldsmith from Koblenz, Germany, Evert Hofacker. Here, Cadeaux Jewelry presents its flagship collection and retails independent watch brands Corum, Century, Lehmann, and Faberge.

Hofacker built Cadeaux Jewelry some 30 years ago as an unmistakable brand on the basis of crystal clear and highly characteristic design elements, such as the Two Prong setting, which remains an innovative and exceptional method of setting diamonds to this day, a tradition continued in Thailand by Baechtold and his wife.

Lookeast Magazine takes a look at the amazing Cadeaux Jewelry designed to showcase a conscious identity: the Two Prong setting, geometrical forms, and jewelry without fear.

“The Two Prong setting is the oldest classic Cadeaux jewelry design we have,” says Baechtold, showing off a modern and unique bangle designed 35 years ago. “Different than in standard jewelry where diamonds are set with four prongs, the Two Prong setting is a technique developed by Cadeaux Jewelry that has become a signature for the brand. It is more secure, gives the stones more luster, makes them appear livelier, and creates brand identity, which is very important.”

Another classic is the Ginkgo line, which has been in their collection for 20 years. “Originally we interpreted a natural Ginkgo leaf in gold ; now with the help of the finest enameling workshop in Germany, we are making it in green color as well, and quite generally we use the ginkgo theme a lot in our brand,” says Philip. “Ginkgo is a tree from China with leaves that are always split, which make the Ginkgo to be seen as a symbol of harmony and love. Thus, it has emotional significance. Also, Ginkgo is the oldest living tree in the world and in China it is seen as a symbol of long life.” Cadeaux designs the Ginkgo today in both classic and more stylized forms.

A sample of a truly classic ring is the “Marquise.” Philip says that the marquise is a classic way to cut a precious stone, but that Cadeaux has actually made entire rings in marquise shape. “They are simple and not too elaborate,” he says, “but sometimes, designs have to be simple so they can be worn every day. They’re pleasing to the eye, a true classic.”

Obviously, Cadeaux adds identity to their jewelry by engraving the name Cadeaux or a ginkgo leaf somewhere on the jewelry. But in fact, Philip says it’s not necessary that the gingko leaf is included. “It’s not our logo,” he points out. “We like the ginkgo leaf symbol because it carries a nice emotion. It does not appear in all items, but where ever we do have it, it adds a nice symbolic touch.”

And while the Two Prong setting has always given its products a clear distinction since the early days of Cadeaux Jewelry, the brand has moved towards other styles over the years because, as Philip explains, “ the Two Prong setting is somewhat restricting. In the 80s and 90s the high, slim shanks came to be seen as too resolute and people preferred wider rings. So Evert worked on a new trendsetting identity based on geometrical designs.”

Thus was born a Cadeaux collection that looks architectural, a little sober, and very German. “They have a good volume, there are lots of material there, lots of gold, and lot of gems. With these designs we are delivering much value to our customers,” Philip said. A recent addition to this collection is the Icon Ring, which has seven fields that carry the letters of the word Cadeaux and an eight field with the gingko leaf symbol embedded. This limited edition of only 55 pieces sells at Bt75,000 net price. Each ring is in 18k gold, has diamonds, and is available in white or pink gold with red or black ceramic lacquer.

The Icon ring in particular, Philip says, requires a high level of manufacturing technology as it is laser engraved.” He adds, “It uses very modern technology like the fine lasering of the surface. Secondly it features ceramic lacquer, meaning a ceramic compound has to be carefully applied by hand and then hardened under UV light and with heat. This kind of ring would have been difficult to make 30 years ago.”

Philip said they are now continuing the Icon line –- which looks pretty and simple, but requires quite an advanced process in making — with little bangles, pendants, and earrings. And they are proving very successful. “This series is almost sold out,” he says. “Next year, we plan to introduce a few more items like these maybe even cuff links.”

Another new variation of a trendsetting design has been launched in the last three months, a the ring with two sides and little concave on the middle. “While the ring is one of the key creations of Evert Hofacker, we have introduced the ginkgo leaf as a cut-out, which saves gold, making the ring lighter and more affordable.”

“We have some new affordable additions to our collections,” he says. “They are a bit more lively, with us playing with the brand name or the gingko symbol.” The ring Ginkgo Dance for example, has a brush finished inside surface instead of being polished.

But whatever design they do, Philip says they retain original design elements in their creations. While they might introduce some interesting new idea or emotion, the product must carry the strong identity of their brand.

Adds Philip, “Even in the extravagant Cult series, you will find the same design elements again. While the products have differing themes, they are all related to each other.”

“In creating designs, it is important to stay close to the root concepts and to the key identity of your brand,’ Philip continues. “ At the same time it is important to add trendy touches, using stylish colors and emotions.”

To illustrate an example of classic design with an added theme, Philip showed us one of the best-selling Oh Vienna! rings, with especially cut big stones (amethyst, blue topaz, green quartz and citrine) which retails for Bt90,000. “This collection, even though it is designed for a season, carries our clear identity: geometrical, straight line, sober, and yet fashionable and trendy. It is selling very well.”

For the classic lines, the design style is mostly built on the principles set by the Cadeaux founder. But for the “unusual” ones, like those in the “Cult” series, Philip does let his fantasy reign. Among these are rings as unique as the ice bear. They feature raw pieces of tanzanite mounted on a classic Cadeaux ring, which would normally be set with diamonds only. However, in this series, they are mounted with a rock looking like an iceberg with a polar bear trying to climb up, This fun, delicate, more collectible jewelry piece retails for Bt 600,000.

“To limit production of this design was a conscious decision,” says Philip. “It is so special that it must remain exclusive to the collector who buys it. Of course good workmanship is always there, because good workmanship is difficult to copy.”

Another extraordinary item is the Skull Ring, also a limited edition. The “skull theme” is not for everyone but as Philip points out, in art history the face of death also stands as a symbol of life. “The skull is a symbol of vanity and creations that embody it are classified as Ars Morendi. The skull is like a mirror that affirms life and reminds us of the inevitable way we will all go,” Philip says. “Also in religious art it is used as a sign for what will come, it tells us that our physical existence is brief, that we should be a good person and not least that we should enjoy life.”

Philip it seems has the nerve for brave ideas: “I like to play with themes others are afraid to touch,” he admits.“ All exceptional creations are his ideas. Indeed they have a certain appeal, but as Philip admits, “You either love them or hate them, and it takes courage and self-confidence to wear them.”

Philip expands on the topic of design: “Design is always restricted by function, but ultimately function is the key benefit a product must convey to be useful and successful. This applies as much to jewelry as it does to cars, clothes or computers, but when it comes to jewelry the most important function is conveying pleasure, prestige and value.“ At the same time the product must be wearable otherwise it becomes difficult to sell a product. “We indeed deliver lots of value to our customers,” says Philip, “not only design and beauty, but also gold and diamonds. In a way that is an instant ‘cash back’ for our customers.”

Cadeaux doesn’t make any gender distinction when it comes to the question who should wear its jewelry. “When we make a design we don’t think it would be for men or for women. It is for the one who likes it,” Philip says. “Some 70% of our buyers are female but many male customers also like our jewelry. Who am I to say that one item is for men and another is for women? We try not to focus on that distinction.”

Even in their advertising campaign, Cadeaux Jewelry tries not to show a person. “It is important to respect that everybody is the master of their own look, of their own image of themselves,” Philip says. “I don’t think we should project an image of how our customer should look. It’s up to the individual what he or she likes. In that sense, we have a open design policy.”

Designs of Cadeaux Jewelry can currently be categorized as follows: the “Two Prong” which are for items that can be described are legendary and significant, named after a proprietary technique for setting stones with two prongs only; “Ginkgo,” for products that carry the symbolic Ginkgo leaf,; “City,” designs that are cosmopolitan and create a definitive modern statement; “Cult,” which is daring, witty, outrageous, and even spooky; and “Paladin,” described by Philip as jewelry in its finest form and absolutely limited to connoisseurs and
collectors.

In December Cadeaux Jewelry is opening a second shop in the lower lobby of the The Grand Hyatt Erawan.