Catch the ‘French Spirit’ on the Web

A new Web site—www.French-Spirit.com—provides French jewelry designers with a place to exhibit their work online. Consumers and retailers around the world now have the opportunity to examine fine French jewelry and, in some cases, purchase products online. Sylvie Chapuzet, development manager for French-Spirit.com, says the Web site “is the starting point of the creation, design, and high quality of French jewels. It’s a place where you can find jewels, of course, but it is also a place for ideas, news, and learning about your style.” She adds that the companies represented on the Web site reflect the French tradition of “creation, quality, and luxury. “The “French spirit,” as defined by Chapuzet, consists of “coffee, courtesy, conviviality, and communication.”

The site, offered in French and English, contains the work of 27 French manufacturers of fine jewelry, four jewelry retailers, and two independent designers, representing 40% of the jewelry market in France. The more than 1,000 products featured on the site are sold through the retailers; products can be purchased online from retailers who are e-commerce enabled. At present, only French retail stores are listed, but Chapuzet says the site eventually will include a listing of U.S. retailers where products can be purchased.

“French designers wish to be known on a worldwide basis and therefore are looking for representation abroad whose addresses would be indicated on French-Spirit.com,” Chapuzet says. “These famous French designers leave their secret world. All together on the Web they get in touch with the general public and display a wealth of creativity.”

Consumers in France can purchase some products directly from the site in a collection called “A Touch of French Spirit”—18k gold and silver jewelry sold exclusively on the Web site. About 40 products—including rings, earrings, necklaces, and cufflinks—appeared in the collection in April.

The site also features contests, educational information, and industry and consumer news.

One recent competition was the Trilogy Diamond Ring contest co-sponsored with the Diamond Information Center. In this open competition, French designers had the opportunity to design rings using three identical diamonds, of the same weight and cut, to symbolize the love of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The designers’ drawings were displayed on the Web site, and users voted for their favorite designs from four weekly selections. The four winning designers each received three .15-ct. diamonds to create the rings, after which a jury selected the “three most beautiful rings.” These rings were then exhibited online, where visitors to the site voted for their favorites. The final round of voting took place at participating jewelry shops.

As an educational resource, the site offers concise information about gold and diamonds, including the “four Cs,” how gold and diamonds are mined, and the history of its products. The news section provides industry news for the consumer, product features, trends, and information about the site.

Users also can design their own rings, take a “personality test” to help determine their tastes in jewelry, and participate in a forum with consumers and industry professionals.

The site was created in April 2000 as a private venture among five jewelry manufacturers and three retail jewelers. By November, 30 French jewelry firms were participating, and in February 2001 the site became e-commerce enabled. Chapuzet says the French are trying to bolster their position in the U.S. market in any way they can and will use this site to help make consumers and retailers aware of French-designed jewelry.