5 Min Read |
When it comes to hearing a brand’s success story, being in the business for over thirty years will bring with it it’s fair share of roller coaster tales of changing market conditions to evolving consumer tastes and trends. For artist and designer Alex Armen and his design studio at Solitaire, they agree that their success is the result of embracing these experiences combined with their remarkable quality and traditional metalsmithing skills.
Based in downtown Toronto, Solitaire sits in the mix of a hotbed of innovation with creative start-ups and trendy small businesses making their homes in the city. Roughly an hour-and-a-half flight from New York City, Toronto is emerging as a serious player in the Canadian and international luxury and lifestyle industry both as a popular tourist shopping destination, and with an increasing number of local upper-middle-class aspirational shoppers.
A Canadian native, Alex Armen began his carer at the age of 18 working as an apprentice in his family workshop. Learning the fundamentals of the business, his interest intensified when he took it upon himself to learn design. “I was fortunate to have worked in the shop to learn the basics that I later applied into understanding of design and function.” He credits his time spent hands-on in the workshop for his understanding on how to achieve a premium finished product.
That’s where it all started for the eponymous designer — learning the business from the ground up, making authentic bespoke jewels for private clients. “I am right there with every piece of jewellery we make through its entire process, from design to final polish. It is my dedication to each piece and each client that sets Solitaire apart from retail.” Armen says. “I am part of something beautiful. Fine jewellery has been desired for centuries throughout all nations; it has been the pinnacle of human artistry. Anything you can think of that’s made to be aesthetically beautiful is compared to the excellence of fine jewellery. I am committed to continue and further this understanding.”
Quality Above All
For Solitaire it is very important to create premium pieces for clients. Everything is made locally in the Solitaire workshop which ensures quality control. From the beginning, Solitaire wanted to be a Canadian brand, and to maintain its unique distribution; they sell direct to clients so there is no middleman. Aside from knowing their craft, they also understand the jewellery business. They have invested in a modern studio and have been early adopters of technologies both helping save time, but most importantly create and maintain standards around a holistic client experience. Alex Armen, meets with every client in person to discuss new ideas and understand requirements. “I work by appointment, which means I dedicate my time directly with each client. It’s the way the forefathers of fine jewellery did it, and it’s the way I continue this personal touch.” Alex says. “Everything today seems to be cheaper and faster and the same, with a perception that they have you in mind”. “It is passion for the work over maximising profits” says Armen, “It’s pride of having an in-house workshop and not outsourcing. It’s old world techniques coupled with modern technology and innovation that makes Solitaire top tier in the world of fine jewellery.”
This approach allows freedom and focus on designing rather than waiting for a third-party supplier to complete certain stages of the production process or simply selling ready-made jewellery. Investing back into Solitaire has enabled them to grow organically and strengthen the appeal of custom-made. “We always strive for perfection and this is key to having unique designs and creating your own vision. We’ve always tried to get out there, mix with the right people and appeal to great clients. Making an effort to get to know our clients is a priority and something we absolutely enjoy.” This dedication to client services helps Solitaire build deeper and long-lasting relationships with clients.
Solitaire does not position itself as an inexpensive brand. They are in fact active in promoting the true value of their product and dedicated life-long client service, taking immense satisfaction in the workmanship of every piece containing Solitaires’ hallmark. “It is an honour for our makers-mark to be in every piece we make” Armen says. “So that it can always be identified and traced back to our very own hands of labour. Made right here in downtown Toronto. It is a lifelong mark of excellence”.
Solitaire are well positioned for future growth. According to Euromonitor International’s recent ‘Jewellery in Canada’ report, sales of fine jewellery in the Canadian market increased in 2019 with expected annual growth of 0.7% (CAGR 2019-2023). Growth has largely been attributed to the luxury market, with consumers in Toronto and Vancouver especially keen on splashing out on expensive items of fine jewellery.
Internet retailing continues to have a strong impact on sales of jewellery as younger consumers are increasingly keen on shopping online. In particular, younger shoppers tend to conduct most or all of their pre-purchase research online. To stay top of mind with their audience, Solitaire is continually investing in building their brand and online presence through social media marketing and content marketing practices.
Looking towards 2020, Armen sees creative opportunities for future growth, including a curated selection of pieces under the designer’s name. Online shoppers can purchase these as made-to-order in the near future. Along with developing the existing client base, increasing the diversity of the brands’ product offering will present clients with more personalised options and experiences. “Brand building will be a priority for Solitaire in the coming years” Armen says, “It’s very important to be involved in the trade and gain trust; in the long run your clients will have more confidence in your work, and your business will stand out from the crowd.”
To find out more about the Solitaire brand visit https://www.solitairejewellery.com/ for more information.