The ‘Kierge’ jewellery house is a large firm manufacturing and selling jewellery and is a famous Yakutian brand. Over its 23 years of experience, the company was repeatedly the winner of national and international contests like ‘The Recognition by St. Petersburg’, ‘Leader in the Regional Economy’ and ‘Altyn Bars’. This spring, they were a sensation at the ‘Estet Fashion Week’ in Moscow, and last autumn – at the ‘Arctic Circle Congress’ International Assembly in Reykjavik.
The firm’s products feature high quality and wide use of the Yakutian national motif in their design. The advertising campaigns held by ‘Kierge’ often cause a great public stir in the world, just think of one of the latest campaigns – the manufacture of the silver Oscar for Leonardo DiCaprio.
Alexander Pavlov, the founder and Director General of ‘Kierge’, who was awarded the titles of ‘Honorary Sponsor of Yakutsk’ and ’The Best Entrepreneur of the Year’ last year, told Rough&Polished about the company’s activities.
Say a few words about the history of your company.
Our company was among the first in Yakutia, it was set up on the base of the jewellery manufacturing workshop of the ‘Yakutrembyttekhnika” PCF, and I was proposed to run it. As per the privatization programme, this workshop was to withdraw from the enterprise and become an independent firm, and we registered a state-owned jewellery enterprise ‘Kierge’. By the end of 1998, it became a limited liability company that developed gradually. Nowadays, we have 60 employees, including 25 skilled jewellers. Besides, we cooperate with 50 self-employed jewelers who fulfil our orders.
What does ‘Kierge’ mean?
It is a fairly unusual word. ‘Kierge’ means a ‘finery, attire’, and it can be understood as a ‘jewellery set’.
In 2001, we built our own store in the high street in Yakutsk, in seven years we completed the construction of the building where our company is located now: a jewellery showroom, exchange fund, offices and a repair workshop. There are many jewellery firms in Yakutia, and much more jewellery stores – above 80. There are 13 stores located just near our showroom. But the title ‘The Best Jewellery Store’ was awarded to us in the nomination ’The Best Organization of Servicing’. We not only manufacture and sell jewellery but also provide all kinds of jewellery services. In the nearest future, we are going to construct the second phase of the building - we need to expand as there are more orders coming and our output is increasing. At present, the firm fulfils up to nine thousand exclusive orders per year, many people prefer to wear the jewellery that nobody else has and they bring their own designs, pictures from the catalogues issued by jewellery houses, family symbols and they order personal protective amulets by our designer Sargylaana Ymyy, which is another trend in fashion.
Is this distinctive national flair of ‘Kierge’ jewellery a tribute to patriotic fervour?
Well, first of all, it is beautiful. And the art of gold- and silver-works and jewellery manufacture in Yakutia has long traditions. It is not surprising, we have gold and silver deposits and the Yakutian gold- and silversmiths handed the secrets of their processing and their know-how over across the generations, for example, the unique Yakutian earring clasps. The beauty and originality of silver pectorals and back ornaments for women, wide bracelets and earrings are on par with those of the renowned jewellery houses. And we carry on grand traditions of the Yakutian jewelers. We also develop them – now our jewelers work with diamonds and coloured stones. New technologies are used in their work on new collections: laser engraving and laser-assisted soldering as well as 3D-modelling of jewellery. We have been existing for a long time, so our jewelers have made their contribution to the training of skilled jewelers for the jewellery industry.
What customers is your jewellery aimed at?
In our showroom, every can find a jewellery piece of her or his choice - according to her/his taste and budget. We offer a traditional Yakutian style jewellery as well as modern and European-style pieces. One can buy a high-end classic diamond necklace, designer jewellery or an inexpensive ring, Yakutian-style silver earrings. Besides, the jewellery by Russian manufacturers is offered in our signature store. Our firm increase its turnover thanks to our business partners, with the ’Estet’ Jewellery House, ‘Diamant” (Kostroma), ‘Yuvelirnyi Dom’ (Jewellery House, Ekaterinburg), ‘Alfa-Karat’ (St. Petersburg) among them.
It appears that your firm is doing well. And what about the impact of the crisis?
Certainly, everyone is undergoing difficulties now, the economic slowdown has an impact not on the daily bread but on the jewellery sector, first of all. Most certainly, the sales declined, but they decreased by 40% in Russia, and with us – by 25% only. But along with this, the output increased, new equipment was purchased and we survive because our jewellery is in demand. We went through several economic downturns and it is important in crisis to carry out a smart marketing policy to stay afloat.
What attracts your customers?
‘Kierge’ is the only firm that renders all kinds of jewellery services: the jewellery manufacture, exchange of old pieces for new ones, jewellery designing, engraving and cleaning. We cannot save on people – we are as one family, we cannot cut down the staff, so we can only improve the quality. It is impossible to economize on materials or advertising. We cannot cut the business travel expenses: we need to transport our products outside the territory of our Republic or our country to expand the market. Besides, ‘Kierge’ is involved in the promotion of the Yakutian jewellery art and national jewellery to the cities in the central Russia and abroad, including the USA, Italy, Kazakhstan, Belarus, China and Mongolia.
It is necessary to carry out PR campaigns: themed meetings and exhibitions like the ‘Gold Week’, or Pearl, Emerald, Sapphire Weeks. We also run the exhibitions of the best jewellery pieces made by our partners – the leading Russian jewellery companies. We hold auctions and prize drawing, in most cases we do this for a charity purpose.
In general, your firm is notable for its social responsibility: you support the veterans of war and domestic front…
And we also finance the work on providing the urban amenities, support the national sports and promote a healthy lifestyle.
Very often, we are asked for help and we do our best to give as much support as possible – we carry out charity auctions for the disabled children. The actors, musicians and painters take part in these events – they all want to make their contribution.
Is this a basic human need or mostly promotional events?
You know, everything should be combined. We have programmes like ‘business + culture’, ‘business + sport’, ‘business + charity’ and ‘business + the image of the Republic’. One thing should complement the other. There exist periods of weaker market, for example, after the New Year or in spring when people are in their country houses or in summer when all people are on vacation. Jewellery sales are of a seasonal nature. In slack seasons, we arrange themed events and some percentage of the sales is given to support child patients; and our customers willingly support such events. Sometimes very amazing things happen. Once we held a lottery and the woman who won the super-prize – a jewellery piece consisting of 116 diamonds that costed RUB 300 000 – gave it to the mother of one of the sick children. The prize winner was a hospital nurse whose earning power was modest and she was bringing up two kids alone. Also, at one of the latest events of the ‘Silver Week’, the main prize, handmade ‘Ilin kebiher’ (luxury silver pectorals for women), was - by happy fortune - won by the sister of the disabled boy, and this auction itself was held to support him.
Lately, the diamonds have become the Yakutian brand, which is very pleasant. What part of your products is the diamond jewellery?
Certainly, diamond jewellery makes the main part of our revenues. No doubt, silver is beautiful and traditional, but in general, it is a consumer grade material. Very many companies are involved in diamonds – both in Moscow, Smolensk and Kostroma. But rough diamonds are mined here in Yakutia. And a diamond is аn iconic stone and is particularly energetic. It is a stone of power. And it not only gives respectability to a jewellery, the whole jewellery piece looks in a fresh new way, it bears additional information and gets new meaning. And even if these are small-size diamonds, they add their esthetics and mythos.
Does your wife who helps you in your business and is a creative director of the firm wear diamonds?
She feels no excitement over the diamonds, and I like this. But one her ring is a gift of our son to her, he made it to his own design: there are two diamonds and three smaller diamonds that symbolize our family – her and me and three our children. This is the ring that she wears all the time. Now it is necessary to add 6 smaller diamonds to it – to symbolize our six grandchildren.
Can you reveal us the credo of your company?
Giving beauty to people and seeing their happy eyes – that is the real purpose of setting up and operation of our ‘Kierge’ jewellery firm.
Galina Semyonova for Rough&Polished