Louis Vuitton to cut the world's most precious diamond

In April last year, a 1,758-carat diamond was found in the Karowe mine in Botswana, hundreds of meters down. A real find. It is the second in quality of the last hundred years and the largest so far in the African country, where a specimen of more than 1,000 carats had already appeared. It also has particularities that make it more special, as it includes parts of high-quality white gemstones.

Louis Vuitton: The world jewellery market is worth around 250 billion euros a year. Photo: Lucara Diamond Corp.
Louis Vuitton: The world jewellery market is worth around 250 billion euros a year. Photo: Lucara Diamond Corp.

The novelty is that the French luxury brand Louis Vuitton (LVMH) has become the buyer of the precious stone. The announcement has been a surprise and a sign that the ensign of the French magnate Bernard Arnault and his 215 billion dollar emporium is redoubling its commitment to the most elitist jewelry, in which the renowned brands have barely 20% of the market.

Analysts have also been struck by LVMH's ambitions. More than half of its 46.8 billion annual revenue comes from a more accessible luxury segment. Far from settling into this niche, the brand aspires to the top. Recently, it paid $14.7 billion in cash for Tiffany's jewelry.

Until the purchase of Tiffany, jewelry was not the forte of LVMH, whose most recognizable products are handbags. There she has rivals like Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels or Harry Winston, who know the business well after more than a century of cutting stones. However, he wants to put up a fight. "It's the biggest potential we see right now," Louis Vuitton President Michael Burke tells FT.

LVMH does not report results separately for its 75 brands, but since it took control of Bulgari in 2011 its sales have doubled and margins have tripled, according to analysts. A good reason to make yourself known in the competitive jewelry business.

Botswana's diamond is called Sewelô, which means "special find" in Setswana, the country's most widely used language. The idea is to refine and process it into a specific collection of jewelry. To do this, LVMH has put itself in the hands of Lucara Diamond and a company in Antwerp, HB, to carry out the process. Lucara will be paid in advance and will have a 50% share in the diamonds that come from Sewelô. He says that 5% of the proceeds will go to local communities in Botswana.

In the treatment of a precious stone, it is not only the raw material that matters. The ideal diamond model developed by Marcel Tolkowsky in 1919 consists of a 57-sided polyhedron, but jewelers have been launching new proposals. Louis Vuitton itself works with figures of between 61 and 77 "facets", which is how the faces are known, although the challenge is not so much to add cuts as to achieve the piece that best absorbs and reflects the light.

In 2001, LVMH presented its first piece of jewelry, created by Marc Jacobs and consisting of a bracelet valued at around 18,000 euros with diamonds in the shape of aircraft. In 2004 it launched its own collection and, since 2009, the firm has identified jewelry as an element that consolidates the brand's luxury value and opens up the opportunity to expand the product range. In 2012, it opened a store in the prestigious Place Vendôme in Paris to compete in the first division of the business. The global jewelry market is worth around 250 billion euros a year.

The Sewelô diamond has 1,758 carats and was found in a mine in Botswana. Lucara Diamond Corp.

LOUIS VUITTON SIGNS A FORMER SWAROVSKI AS DIRECTOR FOR MEXICO, PANAMA, AND ARUBA

Gregorio Jiménez Castillo has been signed by the French luxury company, owned by the giant LVMH, to pilot the company's business in the Mexican market, Central America and the Caribbean.

Louis Vuitton changes captain in Mexico
Louis Vuitton changes captain in Mexico

A marketing graduate from the Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey, Jiménez has dedicated his entire career to fashion retailing. He joined L'Oréal in 2000 where he held various positions of responsibility for several brands in the cosmetics group.

In 2012, Jiménez joined Swarovski as a director in Mexico and in 2017 he also took control of the Austrian cut crystal company in the rest of Latin America. Now, the manager will be based in Mexico to pilot Louis Vuitton's operation in the country, as well as in Panama and Aruba.

Jiménez has taken over from Spain's Miguel Vargas, who was promoted to director of Louis Vuitton in the southeastern United States. Vargas joined Louis Vuitton in 2016 from Sociedad Textil Lonia, where he was a director in Mexico of Purificación García and CH Carolina Herrera for two years.

Jiménez's new challenge will be to pilot one of Louis Vuitton's main markets in Latin America, where the luxury fashion company operates single-brand stores, a flagship store on Avenida Masaryk in Mexico City and points of sale in the departments of El Palacio de Hierro.

In the last two years, the French company has expanded into several countries in the region. Louis Vuitton will leave permanent the pop-up store that opened the past in the Patio Bullrich shopping center in Buenos Aires.

The luxury fashion and accessories company also raised its bet on Colombia recently with the opening of a flagship in the Andino shopping center in Bogota, in the place previously occupied by Ermenegildo Zegna. The company also has a presence in Chile and Brazil and previously had a store in Punta del Este, Uruguay.

LVMH, the owner of Louis Vuitton and other brands such as Cèline or Chloé, is the world's largest luxury conglomerate by turnover. In 2018, the holding company had a turnover of 46,826 million euros (53,471.8 million dollars), 10% more than the previous year.

MEXICO ASKS LOUIS VUITTON TO CLARIFY THE DESIGN OF A CHAIR

The Ministry of Culture asked Louis Vuitton to clarify the design of a chair that forms part of its Dolls by Raw Edges collection.

The head of the agency, Alejandro Frausto, proposes to the firm to hold a dialogue table in which both Mexican cultural authorities, artisans and companies participate. Image: screenshot
The head of the agency, Alejandro Frausto, proposes to the firm to hold a dialogue table in which both Mexican cultural authorities, artisans and companies participate. Image: screenshot

"We have learned with surprise that in the Dolls by Raw Edges collection of his firm, there is a chair (model R98619) that reproduces elements that are part and are identified with the embroideries that are made and are the intellectual property of the community of Tenango de Doria, in the state of Hidalgo, as well as its artisans," said the secretariat in a letter dated July 5, sent to Héctor Pardo, director of Communication of the firm.

The head of the agency, Alejandro Frausto, proposes that the firm hold a dialogue in which Mexican cultural authorities, artisans and businesses participate, with the aim of reaching agreements that benefit all those involved. In addition to giving due recognition to the community in which the cultural appropriation took place.

Last April, the French fashion house launched on the market a collection of designer chairs in collaboration with the studio Raw Edges, among which stands out a decorated with colorful motifs typical of the designs of Tenango de Doria, Hidalgo.

The chair was offered on Louis Vuitton's website at a price of 12,800 pounds sterling, more than three hundred thousand Mexican pesos.

Senator Susana Harp proposes initiatives for the protection of the collective intellectual property and cultural rights of the country's indigenous peoples.

"So, you say: "if Louis Vuitton signs it, it's worth it, it's a Tenango de Doria. Indeed, we have to reflect as Mexicans and re-evaluate and reflect on what's going on with our cultures," she said.

Harp considered that it is good to have collaborations with the big brands or with the big designers; however, the first thing that the communities have always asked them to do when they have approached them to talk to them about the subject, is respect because that is where their cosmovision is embodied.

"That's what we want: to invite all these people who want to do things, to do them together with the communities; it's not that they don't touch it, but that they are there and that they have respect for them," she said.

She affirmed that "they are always going to have to get closer to the communities; suddenly that is what they want: to skip that stretch and that is what they are not worth, because the Mexican State will be able to shelter, accompany, advise, but the owners of these cultural elements have a name and have a location, and we have to go with them respectfully to know that yes, how, when, in what terms.

By Mexicanist