DALLAS — To bedazzle top jewelry clients and ignite holiday sales, Neiman Marcus hosted a Bejeweled Ball on Wednesday featuring $140 million worth of gems at the Hotel Swexan on the edge of downtown Dallas.
The luxury retailer entertained 100 clients plus top salespeople from across the country for the black-tie dinner dance, flying them in and hosting their stays at the new boutique hotel.
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“We know what really sets us apart from others is the experiences we can create,” said Neiman’s president Ryan Ross. “We see this as an opportunity to bring clients and brands closer together.”
It will probably be an annual event, though possibly for different categories in future iterations, he added.
“We intentionally put this on Nov. 1 to kick off the holiday season,” Ross said. “This is the first of 500 events [in all categories] that we will have at Neiman Marcus stores across the country.”
Neiman’s featured six high jewelry vendors — Assael, Bayco, Boucheron, Chopard, Margot McKinney and Paul Fisher, the sole specialist in estate jewels.
“We thought very carefully about delivering an assortment of brands that reflects the breadth of assortment we have at Neiman Marcus — a beautiful pearl vendor, a beautiful estate brand, beautiful colored gemstone brand, two beautiful heritage maisons,” said Tatiana Birkelund, vice president and general manager, beauty and jewelry. “We wanted it to reflect all the different types of jewelry that we have in our assortment every day.”
Each jeweler presented a table of pieces in a space across from the ballroom while also offering a bigger cache of merchandise in a hotel suite.
“Each brand has its own private viewing rooms and there is also a private suite for working with specific clients — all private moments for the clients and brands to interact,” Ross explained. “The ball is the crescendo and celebration for the event.”
“We brought a selection of pieces directly from our atelier in Geneva,” said Chopard managing director of the Americas Jean-Baptiste Maillard. “Some of the pieces you see here don’t make it to the store.”
He pointed out a lightweight black titanium opal brooch, a pink-sapphire encrusted watch concealed in a bejeweled flower that blooms open at a touch, a dramatic five-strand diamond and Colombian emerald necklace priced at $3.3 million, and the big heart-shaped pavé diamond earrings that adorn brand ambassador Julia Roberts in Chopard ads.
“Dallas is a good market for us,” Maillard said. “Austin is on the move with a younger clientele and the new offices of Tesla and Google. It’s not high jewelry, but it’s a good business.”
Among the many standout pieces on display at the event was Margot McKinney’s 119-carat step-cut aquamarine pendant on a string of baroque pearls encircling the neck of Neiman’s chief brand officer Nabil Aliffi.
“It’s distracting, isn’t it?” Aliffi said. “It’s almost like looking at art.”
The Australian jeweler, who sells her rare opals and lavish colored gemstone jewelry exclusively through Neiman’s, said she hoped the Bejeweled Ball would continue for years.
“We’ve had some amazing people through the door who have an appreciation for fine jewelry,” McKinney said. “It’s been really wonderful to talk all day with people who understand what they’re looking at and appreciate gemstones and the artistry and creativity that goes into a piece of jewelry and how long it can take to make. It can take up to 10 years to find the gemstones for some of our pieces.”
“We are very happy,” echoed Moris Hadjibay, whose father founded Bayco Jewels in 1981. “We met new customers and we did some business and it’s not finished yet. It’s a good idea, and they have merchandise for any taste — if somebody wants estate or new merchandise, designer, pearls.”
Alexis Stiles, an executive recruiting consultant from Philadelphia who favors Chopard watches and Boucheron animal rings, was sure she’d find a bauble to take home.
“I love how jewelry really dresses up an outfit and can make your features shine,” Stiles said. “I love the intricate detail and craftsmanship, particularly at some of the jewelers that they have here. The creative design process is really spectacular.”
The event builds on the Bejeweled Book, the marketing tool that was introduced in 2012 and features 80 brands in the 132-page holiday edition.
Launch Gallery: Neiman Marcus' Bejeweled Ball
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