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Exclusive interview: Pandora


Pandora’s unique approach has made it one of the world’s leading jewellery brands. We speak to some of the company’s key players, and take a look behind the scenes at its unique production headquarters, to discover the secrets of Pandora’s amazing success

Hannah Lewis / © Katie Wilson-Ells
Hannah Lewis ,

‘A good design is jewellery that will truly inspire a woman, be relevant to her and always be embraced by her. She will bring the jewellery to life by interpreting it and styling it in her own way.’ This approach to jewellery design, as put forward by Pandora’s vice president and creative director Lee Antony Gray, has no doubt been the cornerstone of Pandora’s phenomenal success. One of the biggest jewellery companies in the world, this Danish brand has won legions of fans across the globe with its delicate, feminine and adaptable jewellery, with a focus on layers, textures and embellishments.

Founded in 1982 in Denmark as a jewellery store today Pandora has 9,500 points of sale internationally, including over 1,500 own-brand boutiques. In 2014 it produced more than 90 million pieces of jewellery and opened 310 new stores.

Perfect charm
When its first charm bracelet was launched in 2000, it marked a turning point for the brand. Today, charms and the jewellery they adorn account for 80% of Pandora’s sales. The charm bracelets are so popular that a second range has launched: the Essence collection, a daintier version of the original. The brand’s leading charm, a silver heart, has sold more than 3 million units worldwide. Pandora has successfully cornered the market for personalised jewellery: ‘The beauty of Pandora jewellery is that there are no rules,’ says Gray. ‘The designs are open to personal interpretation and allow women to wear them however they choose.’

A singular business model
The focus on customisation is not all that sets Pandora apart; it also has an innovative business model. While travelling through Thailand, Pandora’s founders were inspired by the centuries-old traditions of jewellery as well as by the country’s warm community spirit. Each piece of Pandora jewellery is designed in Denmark, but from here the process moves to the company’s Thai headquarters, Pandora Production Thailand (PPT). It is here that the jewellery comes to life, through the complex and precise process of forming individual wax moulds and the meticulous hand-finishing applied to each item.

PPT employs 10,000 workers, all of whom have been trained extensively by the company to ensure the utmost in skill and expertise. Pandora aims to have an ethical approach and PPT is considered to be more than a factory, with employees treated more like family members. ‘Everyone is recognised as an individual,’ explains Chamroon Thong-on, vice president of human resources and organisational development at PPT. ‘As a result, our labour turnover is less than 5%, something we are very proud of and we consider this a testament to the unique, nurturing and family-like spirit.’

Pandora is taking impressive steps to take care of its employees by providing benefits such as subsidised healthy lunches, free transport, money-management workshops and classes for pregnant mothers. And when it comes to concern for the environment, it is addressing how much water and energy is used, and recycles much of its waste materials.

Especially for you
The notion of family, community and friendship is also evoked within Pandora's collections. Pandora jewellery, with its varying price points and its endless options for personalisation, make perfect gifts, and the company launches ranges to coincide with classic gifting occasions. ‘Buying a gift is an intuitive process,’ says Gray. ‘Think about the woman you wish to surprise, the relationship you have with her and the style of jewellery that reflects the special bond you share.’ For anyone struggling to make a decision, each Pandora boutique is staffed by friendly experts, who will listen to your requirements and guide you to the perfect purchase. When browsing the current collection, look out for floral lace-like designs, large blooms and oriental patterns and prints.

With necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings, over 1,000 different charms and the regular introduction of new items, Pandora’s offering is vast, but every element is carefully considered. From trend-led designs to classic styles, each item is expertly crafted at PPT, fusing modern practices with centuries-old techniques.

With so much on offer, what advice does Gray have when it comes to choosing the perfect piece? ‘Go with your instinct and choose what feels right. Always think of your personal style or the preferred look of the woman you are buying a gift for.’

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