EXPERT JEWELRY Georges Papalexis
– You have been in the industry for a long time, please tell us what brought you to the industry?
– I’ve been the CEO of the Zolotas company since 2010. It is a family company. It’s fourth generation. I have been close to the jewelry. I was born in the jewelry industry. I knew all the secrets of the jewelry making. I got my education and decided to turn my family business into a big company, I wanted to model a modern company and give it a personality, brand identity. But also, to keep the family business model.
– What is the DNA of Zolotas?
– Well, as you know, it’s a 125 years old story. But the real DNA comes from my grandfather who was hatching the idea of reviving an ancient Greek jewelry. And that’s the DNA of Zolotas. Style identity. Our DNA lies in the art of gold manipulating, inspiration and design.
– Is Zolotas it a large mechanized production or it’s a craft workshop?
– No, it’s a handcraft. We have a small production, about 15 people. But most of them work from generation to generation. They pass on their secrets from father to son.
– Describe the Zolotas woman. How does she look, what does she think?
– She is a sophisticated woman, she is elegant, she is timid. She loves classics, is interested in history and philosophy. She’s a lady. But there is also a new generation of girls who are also our clients.
– Do you feel that the jewelry industry has changed over time?
– Yes. Yes. Yes. The jewelry industry has changed a lot. Many international brands have fallen into disrepair. On the other hand, many brands have emerged that did not make jewelry before, such as Pandora. But this is not jewelry. We now have many new players in the market who provide affordable jewelry. Many jewelers have emerged who release one single collection and sell it through social media. It was different before. Jewelry houses were family businesses, but this business model is gradually disappearing.
– Could you predict happen to be with the market in the next 10 years?
– The changes are happening very quickly. I believe that it is impossible to predict how the market will change. But we must constantly change, keep up with the times. The new generation is completely different. For example, the way you shop. Have you heard of virtual things that you can watch on video and see if this thing is right for you? But high jewelry is always associated with a high price. Many people see jewelry as an investment. Often the purchase of jewelry is associated with important moments in life. Then you want to go to the store on your own,
take a friend or family member with you and make an important purchase for yourself. You want this moment to remain in your memory. But the new generation has completely different desires and habits.Many of them don’t buy books or print magazines.They read them on apps and social networks. I believe that the digital revolution is something that we should be very careful about.
– If we are talking about the digital revolution, how did it impact your business and which tools have you used?
– I was one of the first to make an online store in Greece. We are all limited this year because of Covid. Jewelry is a high value purchase that you want to see and touch. It is not easy to transfer this business online. But we have to rethink our approach, communication and business model. I realized that your business doesn’t exist if you don’t rank it high on Google. This changes priorities. Paying on Fifth Avenue is no longer your main payment. You should now be the first on the Google search engine.
– Have you heard that a lot of designers created digital models and 3D digital clothes? How do you think, can it be applicated to the jewelry industry?
– Yes. This is exactly what I told you before. I thought about it, even calculated the cost of such a project. This is an additional tool that we could use. Let’s say you are choosing jewelry. You looked at the photos on the site, saw the jewelry on the model. But are they right for you? Using new technologies, we could help the buyer make a choice, help him see how the jewelry looks on him. As I said, we must keep up with the times and if your competitors already have this technology, you must not lag behind.
– How to gain customers trust?
– Our team is focused on this. I’m talking about the team, because I consider each team member a brand ambassador. The client should see the seller as his advisor, a person who represents the opinion of the jewelry house. Our sales team has been with the company for a long time, they have their own relationships with customers, they know what they need. Customers trust them.
– And what do you think about the Generations Z? Are they different from the older customers?
– They know better what they want. They do everything quickly. They are better informed, they analyze the market and products and want to know more about the brand and its history.
– What do you do to surprise your clients? Because the clients now are very spoiled.
– We create new collections, but we always stay true to our style and our identity. This is important for us. We try to surprise customers with new designs, but stay true to our DNA.
– Which of your products are the most demanded?
– The products that are most demanded are the “musts”, as we call them at Zolotas. There are some timeless classical pieces which are in 22-karat gold, a specific type of a very warm gold. We have some European ladies who like to have the classic Zolotas pieces for which we have the Heritage line with lion heads and twisted wires. There are 18-karat sapphires, emeralds and rubies and they come in a typical design. We also have these in our laser snake collection that has been a great success lately.
– Has Covid influenced buyers’ choices?
– Well, Сovid hasn’t impacted our businesses in a positive way and it definitely was not easy to work in Greece that is closed at the moment. I was very surprised to have had a good Christmas season, during which even though we were not open, we had good sales. This means that we have some loyal customers here in Greece and some faithful ones to our store in Paris that is, by the way, closed for renovation right now. Although I have to say that covid definitely has affected our business. The customer was willing to buy online only within the middle price range, let’s say under 1000 Euros but not to take the risk of splurging which made it difficult to sell more expensive pieces during the lockdown.
– Let’s come back to you as a person, where do you find your inspiration?
– I live in a very beautiful country. We have many archaeological sites and museums. Greek civilization, architecture, nature, art. I have always had the opportunity to travel, it inspires me. Once, I fell in love with St. Petersburg, it is a really beautiful city with a great history. Also, I collect artists’ books, I like to read history books. All of this is definitely inspiring.