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Main Image: Marie-Hélène de Taillac

Content, Commerce and Community at The French Jewelry Post

Content, commerce and community meet at The French Jewelry Post, a platform founded by Parisian journalist Sandrine Merle.

When French journalist Sandrine Merle started writing about the jewellery industry 25 years ago, it was radically different to the billion dollar sector we know today. “The industry was asleep, it wasn’t fashionable at all,” she begins. “It was the year 2000 and at this time, there were no designers and there were no journalists specialising in jewellery, because there was no market.”

Of course, this all changed when conglomerates started buying up luxury jewellers like Cartier and Chaumet and launching jewellery lines within their existing portfolio of luxury house. “As the market started emerging, a lot of money began to flow through to magazines for advertising,” she says. But, as the media landscape in France (and the rest of the world) evolved, Merle struggled to reconcile the controlling influence of advertisers over the media.

Courtesy of Marie-Hélène de Taillac

“We were obliged to write about our advertisers, so in the end the I only spoke wo the major brands, because they had money,” she explains. “It was completely contrary to my philosophy and the way I see my job.” Thus, 2016, armed with her wealth of knowledge about the industry, her contacts around the world, and her desire to write on her own terms, Merle started an Instagram account which was almost immediately found an audience. “It was a wonderful space of liberty,” she says. “I knew it would be the same with an online magazine, so I decided to launch The French Jewelry Post (TFJP).”

Writing about everything from the jewellery business and emerging designers, to the history of antique pieces and her tips for finding coveted styles, Merle’s content is, in her words, “alive and unconventional. I put jewellery into a fashion context and within a historical, geographical and societal perspective.”

Alongside producing branded content partnerships, in order to keep TFJP advertisement-free, Merle has recently introduced a curated e-commerce stream that caters to her audience of gallery owners, students and people working in the arts and in jewellery, from all around the world. “I’m fed up with advertising! I don’t think it’s the best way to [sell to] people,” she says. “We have a very specific audience — they’re on my website because they’re interested in jewellery — and they trust me.”

“Relationship marketing is everything, and the only way to do that online is to develop community”

Dawn Moore

Offering one of a kind pieces from independent jewellers around the world, the shop stocks a small yet curious assortment of earrings in sculpted precious metals, necklaces which pair stones such as Amethyst with driftwood or coral, and dramatic, gothic rings. Of the product curation, Merle says simply: “I buy what I love. I do consider my audience, but I imagine that they will like what I have selected.”

Dawn Moore, a US jewellery consultant who has worked with the likes of Harry Winston and Chopard, believes that this unique point of view will be crucial to the success of TFJP’s e-commerce venture. “This is an extremely crowded market segment,” Moore says. “So truly, the only thing that will build [a brand] is the personality of the curator.”

Prices vary from €300 to €4,000, which Moore points out works well online. “Not having a brick and mortar location to actually touch and feel the jewel, I would make an educated guess that jewels under €3,000 sell fairly easily online,” she says. “But once you cross the €5,000 threshold, the potential buyer will look online but wants to make that final decision in person — they want to hold, touch, try on and feel the piece in their hands.”

“TFJP is commercial because I need to earn money, but I always wanted to do something human and to create community.”

Sandrine Merle

In lieu of having a brick-and-mortar storefront where these real-life connections could be made, Moore agrees that finding new ways to build community is important. “Relationship marketing is everything, and the only way to do that online is to develop community,” she says. “If you don’t interact with your followers, it’s a massive lost opportunity to connect. Successful online platforms have strength in three main assets: Content, commerce and community. Frankly, when a business embraces this equation, they can own the world.”

This desire to embrace and foster community has always been high on Merle’s agenda for TFJP. “We organise a lot of events, from jewellery tours to museum visits, sometimes people want to meet the designers,” she says. “It’s a way to create a relationship, knowledge and a link between people. [TFJP] is commercial because I need to earn money, but I always wanted to do something human and to create community. And that’s why it’s not a supermarket of jewellery, it’s a community.”

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