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08 april 2019

galina_pavlova_xx.pngThe Yakut jewellery firm Kierge was set up 25 years ago on the basis of the jewellery workshop PKF Yakutrembyttekhnika which, in its turn, was founded way back in the 1970s. Over this period, Kierge turned into a well-established company successfully developing its brand and winning jewellery prizes and awards for its charity.

In recent years, the company was among the ‘Top 100’ best Russian jewellery brands and was a winner in the city contest ‘The Best Entrepreneur (enterprise) of Yakutsk’ and the All-Russia contest ‘The Best Jewellery Store’, a leader in the economic development of the All-Russia Association of Business and Entrepreneurship, it was also awarded the Grand Prix at the International jewellery fashion week ‘Estet Fashion Week’ (2016, 2017, 2018). Last year alone, Kierge was a prizewinner at the International jewellery contest named after Carl Faberge, and was granted the national award ‘Reliable Business Partner’ within the framework of the Public programme ‘For the benefit of Russia’, as well as the prizewinner at the international JUNWEX jewellery and watch exhibitions in Moscow and St. Petersburg (in nominations ‘Ethnic Motifs’ and ‘Ethnic Style’).

The Kierge CEO Galina Pavlova told Rough&Polished how to keep afloat in the stagnation and crunch periods.

The crises come and go, jewellery firms and brands shut down, but you have been operating for over 25 years already. What has been changing: production, technologies, assortment, anti-crisis programmes?

Certainly, we have to make changes all the time and try new possibilities. Sometimes, it happens too spontaneously: so, last year, we tried to open a store in Vladivostok – it was thought to be a ‘promising region’ and so on. Rather soon, we understood that the rent expenses are higher than we expected and we closed up the project in time. In spite of difficulties, we don't give up and we keep on working much.

Last year, Kierge celebrated its jubilee by opening a new jewellery house, did not it?

Yes, the new trading centre was set up near our headquarters just in the very heart of the city. We have over 60 employees, including 28 jewellery craftsmen, and we keep on providing all kinds of jewellery services to our customers. The firm fulfils about 9, 000 exclusive orders annually.

In this new trading house, we, first of all, sell jewellery pieces both of our own design and made by the best manufacturers in Russia. The jewellery of national and classic styles, for any taste and ‘pocket’. The jewellery items made of gold and precious stones are sold on the ground floor, a wide range of silver jewellery - that moves best now – is sold on the 1st floor, including the jewellery with small-size diamonds.

We have an exchange pool, where we can exchange the scrap gold and silver for new jewellery pieces. We arrange tours: the guests can visit a jewellery workshop located on the 3d floor where gold or silver jewellery items can be repaired or made to order using precious or semi-precious stones, including diamonds. Everyone can try and make a jewellery piece on his/her own – many people would like to try their hand in a new field. We have an opportunity to use services such as laser, manual or art engraving and making any inscription or even a portrait on a gold or silver plate. By the way, the students of the North-Eastern Federal University named after M. K. Ammosov and the Yakutsk Art College have their practice here - the best teachers deliver lectures using our production base to improve their qualification.

In a 6-storeyed building, there are a Beauty Salon and a small Conference-Hall (for up to 60 persons) that can be used as an events hall, and the Cafe is on the uppermost floor.

Did you decide to use all the possibilities existing in related or close business areas to make your firm prosperous? Is it better than to focus on one sphere – a purely jewellery one?

Yes, we do our best to use all the possibilities to attract people and increase the number of visitors. Recently, our company joined the tourist cluster ‘The Northern Mosaic’- we were always eager to take part in organizing and promoting the jewellery tours in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia). Over 25 years, we have achieved some good results in the jewellery industry both in our Republic and Russia, as well as in the CIS countries and abroad. Many people come here, too, as Yakutia is a very interesting region attracting the tourists, travelers and celebrities. As the Republic is famous for its rough diamonds, the ‘polished diamonds of Yakutia’ have become a brand, and people buy the Yakut jewellery as souvenirs and gifts - so, would it be right to lose such an opportunity?

Is it profitable to make and sell diamond jewellery now?

It is always profitable. Both in the high-end and budget segments. The jewellery with diamonds, even with small ones, sells better than without diamonds. Any gem surrounded by diamonds looks better. Both the jewellery status is higher, and its value rises.

It is known that a gallery was open in your new trading house. Was it meant to be a place of interest in the town?

Yes, for sure: this is a standing gallery ‘The Symphony of the Permafrost’ opened a year ago within the framework of the charity programme ‘Business and Culture’. It shows the costumes of the heroes of the Yakut myths created by Avgustina Filippova from the collection awarded the Grand Prix at the International Fashion Week, as well as the collection of the women’s ornaments worn on the breast by various peoples of the world.

By the way, what is the meaning of your company’s name?

‘Kierge’ is the Yakut for a ‘finery, attire’ in a wide sense, not for a single piece, and it can be understood as a ‘jewellery set’. The Yakut jewellery was designed not only as an ornament for women to emphasize their beauty, status and celebrate the dignity of the occasion, but also had a sacral meaning and was used as charms – keep me safe, my charm! As well as the stones that match one person and do not match any other one, they can enhance some features and weaken some other ones, make a person stronger or protect against diseases and ill acts.

Is a polished diamond also a charm? Or is it only a symbol of the status and a myth: ‘A diamond is forever’, ‘a girl’s best friend’ and ‘if you love me - prove it’…

A diamond like any other gem has a greater magic as the most ancient and hardest mineral. From the earliest times, it has been generally believed that it keeps people safe from diseases, protects and helps overpower the enemies.

Now, the jewellery firms are shutting down - in Kostroma, Yakutia … The stronger manufacturers put their hopes on their possible entering the foreign markets.

It is our hope, too. The jewellers’ life is already complicated enough, and the recent VAT increase hit everyone. The population in Yakutia is small, and if you exclude the retired people and a low-income population, the potential jewellery consumers are not many. That said, the market is oversupplied both in the Republic and Russia, there are so many talented designers and craftsmen creating beautiful jewellery pieces, and there is no chance to bring them to the countries where the demand is – to Bulgaria, Serbia, Kazakhstan; as well as to the countries close to us – Mongolia, China, Korea – having the demand and purchasing power. Last year, we signed the export agreements with the Bulgarian enterprise Slavic Artel, as well as with the Heilongjiang trading company on mineral resources Ia Zuan that is ready to offer the Yakut jewellery manufactures the possibility to use the stores in four major cities in China: in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hong Kong. We have an agreement with the Harbin-based HuaNanCheng on setting up a jewellery store. We have just returned from the Saudi Arabia, where the possibilities for our co-operation also exist. But everything goes slow and is difficult and requires huge time and money.

Aleksandr Pavlov, the founder and owner of Kierge, has recently had a presentation at the Ministry of Finance and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, among other members of the Jewelers Guild of Russia speaking on the necessity to open the borders and simplify the customs procedures; in February, we took part in the Russian Investment Forum 2019. Everybody hopes that the respective laws will be adopted to make it easier to our jewelers to enter the foreign markets. But until then, we keep on working, developing and creating new collections in our national style.   

Your husband Aleksandr Pavlov is an honorable patron in Yakutsk, he makes and places tethering posts - serges - (the symbols of Yakutia) in various countries, supports mas-wrestling (stick pulling), makes award medals for winners … Your husband and you undertake many projects in culture and charity, helping seriously ill children. Doesn’t all this interfere with your business?

You know, all this doesn’t interfere with the business, but even helps. When you think about the business only, the range of interest and perception of the world are limited, and you don’t see many new possibilities. The interaction with many various people doesn’t interfere with our sphere at all. We still preserve our northern habit of giving mutual assistance: the Kierge firm supports the jewellery craftsmen - the individual entrepreneurs, it holds the viewings and sales of jewellery made by our partners. All this contributes to the business development. Not to mention the fact that the help gives rise to self-respect, which is very important for the successful development.

Galina Semyonova for Rough&Polished