Jewelry Under the Sun

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As traveling resumes, luxury brands are chasing customers in vacation locations.

This May, Cartier opened a temporary boutique on the island of Mykonos. The seasonal shop is part of a growing trend, as luxury houses seek to meet their customers where they are — on vacation.
Credit… Neri Oddo

Pebbles and shells aren’t the only shiny objects you’ll find on Mykonos this summer, as Cartier has opened a seasonal shop on the Greek island — just one of many temporary boutiques that luxury houses are now operating here and in other upscale beach locations like Capri, St. Tropez and St. Barts.

“Luxury brands are following the consumer,” Sarah Willersdorf, Boston Consulting Group’s global head of luxury, wrote in an email, “and that consumer is spending more time in holiday locations than ever before, with some going so far as to purchase second and third homes.”

Scheduled to operate until September in Mykonos’s village of Nammos, the Cartier boutique has a typical Greek look: It’s housed in a whitewashed structure surrounded by olive trees. Inside, the shop features a mural by the Greek artist Konstantin Kakanias depicting a Mediterranean landscape of white houses against a blue sky and sea (as well as a boat carrying a Cartier panther and one of the house’s red jewel boxes).

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Credit…Ricky Zehavi

Both the Mykonos shop and another boutique in East Hampton, N.Y., opened in May as part of the Cartier D’Été retail program. The name, which means Cartier during Summer in English, is also a play on the French expression quartier d’été, or summer home.

“We felt that there was a need to interact with a nomadic audience, and we thought that it was a good way to test the location,” Arnaud Carrez, Cartier’s chief marketing officer, said during a video call. He noted that half of the shop’s initial sales were to Americans and about 30 percent to Europeans.

And what did they buy? Cartier classics: pieces from the Love and the Juste Un Clou collections, as well as panther-themed jewelry.

The Parisian jewelry house first started experimenting with ephemeral boutiques over a century ago, on the French Riviera. Since 1975, the company has also had a seasonal store in the Swiss ski resort of St. Moritz, and other temporary boutiques are planned under the umbrella of Cartier d’Hîver, or Cartier during Winter.

Bulgari also has followed the lead of its founder, Sotirio Bulgari. In the early 1900s, he opened seasonal outposts in St. Moritz and another Swiss resort, Lucerne, as well as Sorrento, Italy. For several years, the house has operated vacation boutiques in glamorous Italian destinations such as Capri and Porto Cervo, a town on the island of Sardinia; last year, Bulgari added new shops in Bodrum, Turkey, and on Mykonos.

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Credit…Bulgari

Each Bulgari boutique adapts its product assortment to its location — some offer pieces from the high jewelry collection, others do not — but this summer, the ephemeral shops are all offering what the brand calls a “resort collection” of raffia accessories that Jean-Christophe Babin, its chief executive, said was inspired by the vibrant colors of the Mediterranean.

“After years of enduring lockdowns and living behind screens,” he wrote in an email, “the resort collection celebrates this return to normalcy.”

Seasonal stores also are a fixture at Chopard, which has them on Mykonos and Santorini, as well as in St. Moritz and the French ski resort of Courchevel. Glenn Spiro, whose flagship showroom is in London’s Mayfair neighborhood, has temporary boutiques in St. Tropez and Los Angeles, and is set to open a third on St. Barts. “People think I am crazy to have stores opened only a few weeks a year, but it works for me,” Mr. Spiro said in a phone interview.

And every summer since 2015, Eugenie Niarchos’s Venyx brand has operated its only store stocked with exclusively Venyx jewelry in the Belvedere Hotel on Mykonos.

Ms. Willersdorf of Boston Consulting Group said that profound global population shifts — shaped by taxes, regulations and consumers’ desire to live different lifestyles — began before the pandemic, but those changes were then accelerated by Covid.

The disruption has also prompted some luxury names to turn their temporary sites into permanent locations. Boghossian, for example, operated a series of pop-ups in Monaco, but then decided to open a permanent boutique in the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo.

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Credit…Sotheby’s

And Sotheby’s has made permanent the galleries that it opened in 2020 in the Hamptons and Palm Beach, Fla. “Now we have become part of the fabric of those places, and clients come to Palm Beach and East Hamptons also because we are there,” David Schrader, Sotheby’s global head of private sales, said in a phone call. This summer, the East Hamptons gallery will feature creations by two London-based jewelers, Solange Azagury-Partridge and Cora Sheibani.

The lingering effects of the pandemic, including the absence of Chinese tourists, caught up in their country’s zero-Covid policies, have luxury brands chasing customers wherever they are, said Achim Berg, head of McKinsey & Company’s apparel, fashion and luxury group.

“A strong dollar and a weak euro are helping,” he said, but the bottom line is that after two years of waiting, “people are traveling and want to dress up.”

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