The GIC, China University of Geosciences in Wuhan has made a head start in the academic world by becoming the first to train gemmological students in the art of luxury brand management, specialised in jewellery and timepieces.
The students who graduate from these courses will be highly valuable employees to the industry due to the fact that not only do they have a deep knowledge and a solid foundation in the gemmological sciences but also a profound sense of the fundamentals of luxury brand management.
The luxury program that was piloted in 2016 has included leading academics and professionals from Paris as well as some from Kong Kong’s high jewellery houses. The aim is not only to prepare China in creating its own luxury and high luxury brands that can compete with the world’s global leaders, but also to prepare Chinese students for top managerial positions within the leading luxury houses of the this world.
This new venture was the brainchild of Dean Young based on his vision of the China of tomorrow. “As China moves up from being a factory of the world towards being a quality leader of the world, its only natural that we prepare our students to be at the forefront for future demands of the industry”, he stated. “Global luxury shoppers are fast becoming connoisseurs of high jewellery and watchmaking and the industry is now catching up by employing sales and management staff that have a knowledge of gemmology”, he added.
Parisian professor of luxury brand management, Philippe Mihailovich, a founding academic in the field and CEO of HAUTeLUXE brand consultancy - brand advisors to the luxury industry in London and Paris was tasked with creating and developing the program exclusively for the GIC. “I began by recruiting top specialised MBA professors from leading business schools such at the HEC, TBS-Paris, EFAP and INSEEC that I work with as well as specialised experts in the field such as an ex-Marketing Director for Chanel Haute Joaillerie, professional designers from the Place Vendôme, including from jewellery challengers such as Christofle and Baccarat and also the Merchandising Director of our historically important high luxury Parisian department store, Printemps”, he explained.
“We now have many specialised luxury PhDs participating in the 2017 program as other industry professionals from Van Cleef and other known high jewellery maisons digital experts at Richemont. Even my friend Alain Cartier, the living heir of the famous jewellery house - who is a leading collector and trader of vintage Cartier pieces - has expressed an interest in sharing his knowledge with our students. We all recognise that the industry has become fiercely competitive and the best maisons will be seeking staff who are educated in both story-telling and stones.”
Following the successful debut of this course, the GIC will now be developing the program for Executives and is expected to establish itself as a world leader in this field for the foreseeable future. “In 2016, we probably set the standard far to high for our Bachelor gemmology students”, he admits,” but now that we understand gemmologists much better, as well as the different cultural, philosophical and perceptual visions of the world from a Chinese perspective, we are now in a position to develop very unique programs beginning with a specialised Jewellery and Timepiece Bachelor through to executive training that currently is not being offered anywhere else in the world”.
“My dream,” adds Mihailovich, “would be to see the GIC become the leading reference in the field - as Harvard Business School is in its own field - and I sincerely hope that the leading Chinese jewellery houses will not only come to us for global branding advice but will send their top managers to us for professional training and may even wish to participate in the funding of our program” he added. “After all, we are in China to help Chinese businesses to create powerful brands that will enhance the reputation of Chinese jewellery on the world stage as opposed to simply focusing on selling more pieces worldwide at discounted prices.”
Already it would seem that both the GIC and the city of Wuhan are becoming known amongst industry experts in Paris as a result of this program and we have no doubt it is contributing to the positive Sino-French relationship that we have been witnessing over the last decade. “Without doubt some leading Chinese Corporations may embark on acquiring the world’s leading high luxury jewellery houses, but it won’t do much to build the image of the Chinese jewellery industry. Instead, it may even serve to damage the image and reputations of the acquired brands. China needs to rise to the challenge of creating its own highly respected jewellery houses and this is the expertise that the GIC can now offer”, Mihailovich concludes.