The luxury route has a new stopover: Spain. Cartier, flagship of the high jewelry French, has converted the former Embassy of the United Kingdom in Madrid, a circular building that imitates a bullring, into the largest ephemeral jewelry in the world. The artist and designer Jaime Hayón has transformed this example of 1960s brutalism —the work of WS Bryant and Luis Blanco-Soler— into a sumptuous vault, a succession of rooms where the firm’s 300 best clients from the five continents They have discovered for almost three weeks the hundred pieces that make up the first chapter of Beautes du Mondethe new Cartier high jewelry collection.
“Producing a collection like this takes two years: from the choice of each stone to the making of the jewels,” explains Jacqueline Karachi, artistic director of high jewelery at Cartier. “There is an interaction between the gem and the designer. That is why each piece is unique, a work of art in itself”, she adds. All of them are valued at hundreds of thousands of euros. Some, in millions. The signature defines Beautes du Monde as “a trip around the world”: a diamond and emerald necklace from Colombia that imitates the skin of an iguana, an opal necklace inspired by the wings of a butterfly or a necklace with five Ceylon sapphire cabochons of 43.49 carats that form a hypnotic asp snake.
Selling these jewels is also an art. The presentation of high jewelery is Cartier’s most important annual event. Every year for two decades, the house he chooses a city or an exclusive enclave to reveal his creations: Paris, London, Rome… Last year, for example, he did it on Lake Como, in Italy. This is the first time that he has moved the exhibition and the sale to Madrid. The Parisian house has taken 12 months to organize everything.
“Madrid has always been a luxury destination. It is not a new phenomenon. But we decided to present the collection here because the city has changed a lot in the last two years”, explains Arnaud Carrez, Senior Vice President and Director of International Marketing at Cartier. “It is attracting more attention from European and Latin American clients. And it has new commercial spaces, such as the Canalejas Center, very close to Puerta del Sol”, points out Carrez. Cartier was the first firm to open a store in Plaza de Canalejas, at the end of 2021.
The executive also highlights the recent renovation of the hotel plant in the capital. In recent years, some of the most prestigious hotel groups have opened offices in the capital. Four Seasons was the first. Then came the Rosewood Villa Magna, the reopening of the Ritz hotel converted into the Mandarin Oriental or the recent hotel The Edition.
“Our culture, cuisine and lifestyle have made us a highly attractive destination for high-impact tourism, especially from North and South America and the Persian Gulf. Madrid is the city with the highest average spending per tourist in Spain”, says Xandra Falcó, president of Círculo Fortuny, the main Spanish association of brands in the luxury sector.
During these weeks, Cartier has offered its international clientele an “immersion” in Spanish culture: from dinners at the Liria Palace, with famous guests such as the supermodel Mariacarla Boscono, the actresses Lily Collins and Vanessa Kirby and the influencer Emma Chamberlain, to visits to major museums. According to the firm, the objective of an event like this is not only to present and sell its jewelry, but also to provide its buyers with an “experience”, an indelible memory that cannot be dissociated from the brand’s values.
Cartier is not the only luxury firm that is looking at Spain. Dior has just presented its 2023 cruise collection in Seville, inspired by Andalusian culture: two days of events, a historic parade in the Plaza de España and more than 900 guests from all over the planet.
The pandemic seems to have accentuated the demand for luxury products and experiences such as the one offered by Cartier in Madrid or Dior in Seville. “Covid has amplified the boom in premium purchases, especially among European customers who have not been able to travel to other destinations in these two years,” explains Carrez. “We have been seeing an acceleration in business for two years now. Unbelievably, we have gained market share during this crisis”, he concludes.
Jacqueline Karachi, artistic director of high jewelry at Cartier, has a theory about it: “People are hungry for beautiful things for a reason: beauty gives security. A jewel works as a talisman, it protects you from evil and reality. In these difficult times, we all need an amulet.