Models display jewelry at the opening of Cartier flagship store in Cheongdamdong, southern Seoul, Thursday. / Yonhap
By Cathy Rose A. Garcia
World-famous French jeweler Cartier finally opened its first flagship store in the fashionable Cheongdam-dong district in southern Seoul.
Designed by French architect David-Pierre Jalicon, the Cartier Maison building is already attracting attention for its elegant facade, inspired by the Korean wrapping cloth or bojagi.
``Cartier has been `jeweler to kings, king of jewelers' for 160 years and as you know every king needs a castle … This is like a private mansion with unique style. The decor, the private lounges, bridal salon and watch salon ― all of this to make our guests very comfortable,'' said Philippe Galtie, managing director of Cartier Korea, during the press preview last week.
While Cartier has opened flagship stores in Japan and China in the last few years, it took longer for the company to open one in Seoul.
``We feel it is the right time for the market to have a flagship store, in terms of level of sophistication of the market. The market is growing very rapidly. Despite the economic uncertainty affecting the world, the high-end products are not affected. We are selling products that you can keep forever,'' Galtie said.
Cartier Maison certainly conveys the essence of the Cartier brand, which is known for luxury, craftsmanship and rich heritage. It features two floors of classic interiors, crystal chandeliers and display cases filled with diamond jewelry, tank watches, leather goods and handbags. It is also has several private lounges, where VIP customers are treated to champagne while picking through the Cartier collection.
Galtie said this boutique is the seventh biggest in the world, although he expects the ranking to drop as Cartier builds more stores around the world.
Cartier Maison features the largest assortment of Cartier jewelry, watches and handbags in Korea.
``We have a long history of accessories. We are known for our jewelry and watches. In jewelry, our best selling items are the Love ring and the Trinity rings, which have become icons for many years. Love rings are 30 years. It is quite old for a fashion item that is still hot. The Trinity ring was introduced in 1924, but the old lady is still quite sexy. That's the beauty of Cartier, the creativity, design and timeless style,'' Galtie said.
Cartier Maison has a wide array of diamond jewelry and bridal rings, but the most stunning and expensive piece is a necklace with a 13.6-carat yellow diamond pendant and 19 carats of diamonds.
On Thursday, a jewelry fashion show featured models wearing some of the most dazzling necklaces, earrings, rings and bracelets from Cartier's collection. There's even a diamond tiara, which is now available exclusively at the boutique.
To celebrate the opening of the flagship store, six limited edition mini-Marcello handbags, which come in different colors and materials, are available at the Cartier Maison. Three of the mini-Marcello bags already been reserved as of Wednesday.