Style Fix: Meet Charles Leung, the new president of Chaumet, the first Asian CEO of an LVMH brand

A bracelet from the Chaumet en Scène high jewelry collection

Leung, an LVMH senior, cut his teeth at Cartier in Hong Kong before moving to Paris. He joined Chaumet in January this year from Fred, another LVMH-owned French jewelry company, which he led for more than five years.

Fast-talking, gregarious and driven, Leung Chaumet is clearly in his element. He has always worked in the jewelry store, and even after all these years, he says, he can never get bored.

„Time flies so fast,” she says in an interview between haute couture shows last week in Paris. „I love working with jewelry because I studied literature in Hong Kong and I’ve always loved beautiful things with meaning.

“That’s what jewelry is: beautiful things with meaning and a lot of emotion inside, and all the stories behind each jewelry purchase are so touching. I also like that we spend a lot of time going back to our heritage and our archives, yet we still propose something relevant to the times. [I love] Craftsmanship and stones and how we create something never seen before. It’s great to work with these great people. There have been moments in my career when I thought of changing fields, but I will never get bored with jewellery.

A diamond ring with a ruby ​​from the Chaumet en Scène high jewelry collection

A few days before our interview, Leung and his team were in Venice to launch Chaumet’s latest high jewelry collection: Chaumet en Scène.

Chaumet plays an important role in high jewelry. their fragments Jewelry is the most beautiful dress in the world: One-of-a-kind creations and art collections created in centuries-old ateliers are available only to a select few customers who can afford them.

“High jewelry is the ultimate expression of artistic vision and storytelling and savvy for a brand,” says Leung. „The more we explain and share, the more interest there is. In the old days we didn’t talk about it because it was so secretive and taboo — because it’s so expensive and it’s so few pieces — but the new generation is more about jewelry and how you do it and where you do it. Want to know more. Stones come from.

“In the media, 50 per cent of our coverage is on high jewellery, because even though we do our signature, iconic things, How many times can we talk? [fine jewellery lines] Bee My Love or Lines? But you can talk more about each piece from this collection, because each one is different and has something to say. I see us making more pieces that are easy to wear and match and that men want to wear than before.
A pair of earrings from Chaumet’s Be My Love collection

He has an opinion. High jewelry was long seen as maddened and outmoded: „significant” investment pieces with large diamonds and gemstones relegated to a die-hard female clientele.

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“Having our flagship on Place Vendôme is great because people walk here from the Tuileries Gardens or the Opera,” Leung explains. „Even though we have this 240-year history and this impressive facade, it’s important for us to show our customers that we’re very accessible and that our doors are open and that we welcome them.

“You’d be surprised how many customers who don’t know us find us and buy €100,000. [US$107,000] Jewels worth their first visit – especially Americans, Chinese and Arabs – because when you’re in Paris you really crave and want to indulge in food and luxury, even if you don’t know it. brand. When you see a boutique on Place Vendome, you know it’s going to be good, and you trust the history and the place.

A tiara and ring from the Chaumet en Scène collection

While Chaumet is a household name with a strong presence in places like Japan, Hong Kong and mainland China for decades, it’s true that it still has little presence in key luxury markets like the US and Europe.

In Asia, we are focusing on Japan. [South] Korea, Greater China, but Southeast Asia is different. We start Thailand in October, so there are things we haven’t done in Asia. We also opened in Vietnam at the end of last year,” says Leung, adding that the brand recently opened its first store in Italy and plans more locations in Italy and Spain.

„We have some American customers who know Chaumet and are more jewelry customers because they’ve seen our pieces at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington,” he adds. „They want the crème de la crème and something they can’t get in the US when they come to Paris. We dress celebrities for events like the Cannes Film Festival, we work with American celebrities like Kelly Rutherford, who has a huge following – we have a road map to the US, but we’re just waiting for the right moment and the right location.” . in Manhattan.”

American actress Kelly Rutherford at the launch of the Chaumet en Scène high jewelry collection in Venice in June 2024

Leung’s plate is full now, but he seems ready to take on the challenges ahead. At the same time, he also knows what came before and isn’t going to rock the boat for that.

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„I have little faith in how this luxury brand should evolve, but at the same time I am very aware of history and tradition, and I am not here to change it – they are already here and beautiful. ,” he says. „I want to make sure that what I do is relevant to the current world and leaves a good legacy for years to come. We have to see what happens in the market, how tastes change. For example, after the pandemic, we saw what is important to people: personal relationships and connections and appreciation of nature.

This new focus on tradition and long-term value has been a boon to the struggling luxury industry, which bodes well for houses like Chaumet. Aside from its high jewelry creations available only to a select few, the brand also makes accessible fine jewelry lines like Be My Love and Lions, which Leung mentioned.

South Korean actress Song Hye-kyo also attended the Chaumet en Scène launch in Venice
“Once upon a time, Chaumet was famous for high jewelry and tiaras, but also for wedding rings because of our story. And Josephine and all, so it is mainly weddings. But nowadays people have started to find chaumet on other occasions like birthdays, anniversaries,” he says. “We used to focus more on bridal, but now people are seeing that we have pendants and bangles, and you can layer with other jewelery to make a fashion statement, so even in mature markets we haven’t played our cards yet. „

Leung, the only Asian CEO of the LVMH brand, seems to have made his home at Chaumet and is happy to share a simple piece of advice for those looking to break into the luxury industry in Hong Kong and elsewhere.

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„If you don’t like it, you’re in the wrong business and you can’t do well,” he says. „You have to be passionate about it, and then you’ll do better because that’s who you are. Maybe that’s where my motivation comes from, and how I’ve worked in this business all these years.”

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