Earlier this year, during the height of lockdown, Pomellato launched its first High Jewellery collection; “La Gioia” meaning “joy” in Italian.
This landmark launch foresees the Italian House evolving into the world of High Jewellery for the first time and the collection celebrates the true DNA of Pomellato. The 165-piece collection brings the modern spirit and Italian craftsmanship of Pomellato to the High Jewellery sector, with each piece telling a unique story and highlighting masterful savoir- faire.
Launching the collection during the lockdown made it different from any other occasion in the brand’s history. Not being able to meet with clients or travel around the world with the pieces, of course, imposed some challenges but with CEO Sabina Belli behind the rollout of the collection, the jewellery house found new and innovative ways to share these pieces with the world.
While still being in part lockdown over the summer Sabina Belli is starting to reflect on this period and plan for the future. With uncertain times ahead what does seem certain is that some aspects of the business will change for good. Here we talk to Sabina on the latest developments of the company, the upcoming months for Pomellato and the new High Jewellery collection.
What is a lesson you have learnt from the lockdown and what is something you will change moving forward?
There are three axes that are key and we cannot avoid facing them. The first is the value of the human being. All over the world, we are seeing signs that humans need to be at the centre of every debate – whether it’s a question of race, religion or something else – there is no room for discrimination anymore. Inclusivity and taking care of others is very important. I think that maybe the fact that during this lockdown we have entered people’s lives through Zoom and other digital communication windows has made us more authentic. We have seen each other with no make-up, no glamour from the comfort of our homes and we are no longer embarrassed. It’s become normal because everyone is in the same situation. The fact that we can see people as they really are has made a big difference.
I was recently listening to an activist who is based in the United States talking about racial discrimination. She was a black African American woman and she spoke of how she realised that when you go back to the office on a Monday morning we all have to create a narrative that is acceptable in the social area where we interact. Sometimes we might do something during the weekend that we don’t feel comfortable talking about with our colleagues because we feel that we could be discriminated for it. Whether it’s a religious habit, a community belonging, a hobby, etc. But now maybe these masks are dropping. We can be much more open with our employers and they should be more open to listen to people’s real issues and support them. I see that happening at Kering where we have huge support for many of these topics. It’s an absolute must within the company.
The second point is that obviously health is so important and everybody should have access to welfare and be able to take care of themselves. We are now living in a world where sustainability is a must. There is no reason to still be in the mindset where you don’t think about waste. And frankly, concerning me personally, I was ashamed by the number of shoes and bags that I own! I think we will start to shop differently and this will be something very important.
Then the final point is agility. I realised recently that there is a huge difference between remote-working and smart-working. Working but not sitting at the office is remote-working. But smart-working is maybe still being remote, but with something else: empowerment, decision making and risk-taking. We don’t have the time to spend hours sitting in meetings debating things and this is going to be a treasure. I started working in the eighties and from 1983 to 2020 nothing had changed – it was the exact same method of working in the way a company is structured. The only thing that has changed drastically is probably the internet and technology. But everything else is the same. And I’m so excited that I’m witnessing the first major change in the workplace. We are not going to go to the office every day. We are not going to sit at our desks just to complete the hours of 9am to 6pm. Maybe we will do handicrafts at our desks? Because we’re not always busy all day! I’m so excited about this. People will get to live differently but in a truly more balanced way.
In this respect, I’m asking myself what is going to happen for places like Dubai, Hong Kong and New York where people were in the fast momentum of working? I hear so many people feeling that they need an outdoor space in their apartment, or to get out of the city more often. I don’t think there will be this urban environment in the same way. A few years ago I went to visit the new Zaha Hadid complex in New York and they told us how they are now selling properties that have no kitchen. Because there are so many single people that don’t need a kitchen as they never cook. But instead, that space was a gym. That was the new trend. Now however I’m not so sure – what if after three months of lockdown you learn to cook and realise that it’s healthier and you want more space? I think we could be at the beginning of a totally different way of living a daily routine.
What’s next on the agenda for Pomellato when it comes to supporting women and what is something you would still like to do on this topic?
This idea of women allowing women to be empowered is key for us. Empowerment as a whole concept starts from one place: education. You cannot talk about empowerment if you don’t have an education but there are so many women around the world who don’t have access to schooling yet. So we need to think about that. We also need to be teaching the families and parents that an educated girl is a more empowered girl and she’ll have more chances to be happier and freer and also to make more money.
The second point is making sure that there is no discrimination in terms of racial background, colour, religion etc. I’m following what’s happening in the U.S. and so many other parts of the world. The statistics on the chances people have depending on where they come from are unbearable to see. This is something we should fight and it starts from your own personal circle. Start by looking at how your neighbour or your children’s friends, for example, are living and you’ll be surprised how many problems there are. Sometimes people are very much conditioned to not get involved in somebody else’s problems, but it can be a chance to save a life. We need to help so many of these women pass through their struggles. The number one reason why these things happen is because women are scared to talk because of social judgement. I also need to make sure that people in my company consider it as a safe space and ask for help.
What’s in the pipeline for Pomellato for the rest of the year?
As we have been shut down for four months, what we may consider old developments or products in the company are still new for the world as we haven’t shown them yet, and we have some classic pieces that have always been in our stores that could be revamped and presented.
Then what I think is going to be new is the way we interact with our clients and friends of the brand, which will be in more of a virtual way. So we have to make sure that we are open-minded enough to be able to present our novelties and our actions in a digital way. I’m very confident that people have adjusted to that very easily. People are becoming so creative and everyone has invented new ways that are very stimulating. And also as the head of a company, it will be interesting to see how much money we have saved from no travel etc. and we will be happy to reinvest that in other positive ways. So sometimes a bad period can also provide some good.
Why did you choose the name La Giola (meaning “joy”) for the name of the High Jewellery collection?
When I joined Pomellato five years ago I wanted to find this higher purpose for the company. So I went around and asked everyone “Why do you come to the office in the morning?” And they found it difficult to answer. So we exchanged ideas and we realised that when we produce a Pomellato jewel, at the end of the chain, there will be a woman who opens up the box and feels a moment of joy. So I told my team that our job is to provide joy to the world, because that’s what we do – we bring joy to these women. And that is a great responsibility.
Will this collection always have a special place in your heart?
Of course. It has been done at such a terrible time and it’s incredible because I realised that throughout these weeks and months, we all had something to celebrate. Whether it was a birthday, an anniversary etc. and at these times you want to mark that celebration with something that lasts forever and this is what jewellery is for. So we are so relevant to bring joy to people’s lives.
What is a message you would like to send to your fans and clients in the Middle East?
First of all that I miss them! I miss the pleasure of mingling with amazing women. Middle Eastern women are so unpredictable because you end up discovering these amazingly strong, bold personalities. They are the most free-spirited and sophisticated women and I miss that a lot. I also think that this is time for everyone all over the world to think about life in a different way. Maybe people in the Middle East may find they have the occasion to let their cultural backgrounds be expressed even more and create this multicultural community that is unique in the world. I think there is an amazing opportunity for this and fabulous coming together of many cultures.