Before and after Covid-19: what has changed for the Margherita Burgener brand?
Before this long period of lockdown, our perception was of a solidly performing international jewelry market that was receptive to high-range products, evolving rapidly and becoming more and more fluid, so much so that it sparked more intense on- and off-line communication activities to support sales and promote the Margherita Burgener brand. The forced interruption in our workshop activities has slowed down some important and unique pieces that were being produced for spring sessions at international auctions.
What is your current situation?
At the moment, only a few auctions have been confirmed although they have been postponed to the summer months. Many other prestigious auction locations, in London and NYC for example, are still closed or only partially open. However, we are getting positive signs from on-line sales which have enjoyed considerable attention. We are seeing a momentous transformation of the market which, of course, while not only involving our sector, does affect it significantly. And we are keeping our ears open for new signals from around the world, especially from the international auctions and, of course, Russia where our market-targeted collections have been extremely successful.
What measures have you adopted to reduce the damage caused by this situation?
My personal “adjustment technique” was to stop and put my company into stand-by mode in the name of health. Creativity has never stopped, of course. In fact, I have a whole series of designs on my table that I really love and which came to life in these weeks of silence. They are dedicated to the beautiful seasons that will come, to the future of our wonderful profession that I want to think positively about even though, at the moment, we are not able to foresee how it will develop. Designs also triggered by collaboration ideas with different creative artists, in mutual support. And then, due to my personal nature, I have never stopped communicating with our customers in order to share thoughts, impressions and the difficulties of being shut away from everything. Maintaining direct relations with the customers is a marvelous and indispensable aspect of my work.
Phase 2: what are the positive aspects and which are the critical factors?
Now more than ever, gold is generally seen as a “safe haven”, as an investment that maintains its value over time. This will certainly nurture interest in high-range jewelry and is an indisputable advantage for the sector. Access to on-line communication channels has opened new horizons for the jewelry market, not only in geographical terms, and this definitely offers enormous visibility and sales opportunities. Nevertheless, jewelry must evoke emotions and only a real and direct viewing can demonstrate its real beauty, the colors of the stones, the details of its high quality. Jewelry needs a story, a special moment, personal advice that can only be partially satisfied on the web. It will never have the same effect as a personal encounter.
Can you also give us a general picture of Valenza, one of Italy’s top gold districts? What is the overall situation at the moment and what, in your opinion, does it need to re-start?
Like many other production districts, Valenza feels the risk of a general economic recession that could put the entire sector, which is mainly made up of small and medium-sized artisan enterprises, in danger. Solid financial support for medium and small enterprises is fundamental for Italy’s future, as is simplifying all the bureaucracy that takes up so much of our energy. I agree with Matteo Marzotto when, in his brilliant interview for Forbes, he highlighted the role of companies as a “means for maintaining the social fabric”, emphasizing the importance of safeguarding every manufacturing company, including the smallest. Our strength will lie in teamwork and by putting the resources that make the small businesses of our country special into play: creativity, the ability to adapt, tenacity and knowing how to put heart and soul into everything.
What are you focusing on for the re-start? I will continue to do the work we love with passion and by focusing on the exclusiveness of Margherita Burgener creations, on quality and on personalization, which makes every item unique, and on heart-felt and shared relations with our customers, both retailers and final users. I think that communicating the values of made in Italy and high-quality Italian workmanship more precisely and effectively will become increasingly important. We especially need to tell our story and our authenticity. This violent crisis has triggered a new sensitivity which will pay more and more attention to the values behind a product and a brand. We are ready for the challenge.
What is your greatest fear?
I worry that young people, our children, will feel lost at having to face such a different world. This will certainly make them more responsible towards humanity and the planet compared to past generations. I fear the loss of many companies and of a highly specialized artisan know-how that, once lost, will never be retreived.
What is the challenge for the future?
Saving the sector’s precious artisan companies: experimenting new collaboration strategies with our “competitors” in order to save our companies’ know-how, strengthening our productive and communication power and promoting our marvelous Italian jewelry.
Your future plans and projects?
I am entrusting in “cross fertilization”, especially between highly energetic women who are open to new creative challenges. I confess. I would really like you to ask me that question in a few months’ time…