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Brand News: Hearts On Fire, Judith Ripka Make Management Changes; JM Displays Esperanza Diamond April 13, 2016 (0 comments)


Hearts On Fire Names CFO To Lead Global Expansion

Boston, MA—Hearts On Fire (HOF) has tapped luxury industry veteran Stephane Barraque (left) as its new global chief revenue officer. The new role was created to lead all commercial activities for Hearts On Fire globally, and support further development of the brand and its global footprint through its wholesale, retail, e-commerce, and joint venture channels. 

Barraque has more than 25 years’ experience in the development of luxury brands. He will be responsible for the management of both the Hearts On Fire sales team and its retail stores, while also identifying new global business opportunities for the future. This will include developing new revenue streams, partnerships, and markets for Hearts On Fire, working alongside the brand’s current leadership team in a highly strategic role. 

“We are so excited to welcome Stephane to our family at Hearts On Fire,” said Caryl Capeci, president, Hearts On Fire. “ With the strong support of our parent company, Chow Tai Fook (CTF), HOF is now poised for the next stage of its global development and Stephane’s deep knowledge of the luxury industry, and passion for building successful brands will be invaluable to that growth. We look forward to the expertise and leadership he will bring to Hearts On Fire and our retail partners for our next generation of growth.”

Barraque’s previous experience includes 17 at Richemont luxury brands in marketing for Cartier and Baume & Mercier watches. He joined the LVMH Group in 2008 as president of Dior Timepieces for the Americas, and joined the Fossil Group in 2014 as senior vice president to develop the luxury division and Swiss-made strategy, while also managing Burberry, Michele and Zodiac watches globally.   

“Joining Hearts on Fire and diving deeper into the jewelry industry feels extremely natural and exciting,” said Barraque. “The unique value proposition of Hearts On Fire, combined with the support of Chow Tai Fook, creates a very strong opportunity to compete and win in a market that is rapidly evolving towards omnichannel, a new definition of luxury and global branding.”

Acquired by Chow Tai Fook in 2014, Hearts On Fire continues to expand its global distribution footprint,through independent retailers, department stores, branded stores, and shop-in-shop boutiques. Since joining the CTF family, Hearts On Fire has added more than 150 points of sale in mainland China and Hong Kong.  


Jewelers Mutual To Display Historic 8.52-Carat Esperanza Diamond Featured At Smart Show 

Neenah, WI—The Smart Jewelry Show will be hosting the historic Esperanza Diamond next week in Chicago, IL. The one-of-a-kind diamond will be on display with other pieces from the R. (Ron) Harder Gallery of Gems and Minerals at Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company. The gallery, at Jewelers Mutual’s corporate office, houses one of the nation’s largest private collections of minerals and gemstones in their natural form.

The Esperanza is the most valuable diamond ever discovered in the United States. It was unearthed in June of 2015 in Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas. Special arrangements were made to have the rough diamond crystal cut and polished locally at Stanley Jewelers in North Little Rock, AR, to preserve its "born and raised in Arkansas" status. Adding to provenance, it was cut by master diamond cutter Mike Botha of Embee Diamonds, an American Gem Society member. 

The unique icicle shaped crystal weighed 8.52 carats—the fourth largest crystal ever found in the United States—yielded a perfectly colorless and internally flawless finished diamond of 4.605 carats, graded D IF by AGS Labs. The Triolette shape of the finished diamond features 147 facets, and the diamond is set into a custom designed platinum pendant designed by New Zealand-based Inspired Collections’ Ian Douglas and crafted in the USA by Byard F. Brogan, both of whom are also AGS members.

V in excess of $1 million dollars, the Esperanza is the most valuable American diamond ever. It will go to its new owner after the Smart Jewelry Show, making its appearance in Chicago a once in a lifetime opportunity for those who see it.

“The world of diamonds and gemstones is fascinating,” said Scott Murphy, president and CEO of Jewelers Mutual. “It is an honor to have some of our most prized stones from the R. Harder Gallery share company with the spectacular Esperanza diamond at the Smart Jewelry Show.”

The 4.605 D IF Esperanza Triolette—the most valuable American diamond was discovered at the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas in June 2015, and was designed, cut and polished from the original 8.52 by Canadian Master Diamond Cutter- Michiel Botha, Embee Diamonds during a marathon 130 hours event hosted by Stanley Jewelers Gemologist in North Little Rock, AR.

The Heliodor is one piece from the R. Harder Gallery to be featured at the Smart Jewelry Show. It was discovered in Volodarsk-Volynskii, Ukraine and was added to the gallery to commemorate Jewelers Mutual’s Centennial in 2013. 


Judith Ripka Announces New Direction, New Team, New Designs

New York, NY—Judith Ripka Ltd., a licensee of Xcel Brands, has announced a new management team led by David Minster as CEO of the company's wholesale division. He previously held executive positions at Scott Kay and David Yurman in the jewelry industry, and managerial positions in the beauty industry at Elizabeth Arden, Chesebrough-Pond and other divisions of consumer goods giant Unilever.

Evert DeGraeve is spearheading the collection’s creative and merchandising. He has more than 20 years' experience in executive and product development positions at fine jewelry companies like David Yurman, Mikimoto, and Harry Winston. He is a trained goldsmith who worked at the bench in England, Germany and the United States.

David Minster, left, and Evert DeGraeve, right

Fran Pennella of BENALI Consulting, LLC will head up marketing and branding. With 17 years of marketing, brand development and public relations experience in the jewelry industry, Pennella has helped a wide range of jewelry and timepiece companies such as David Yurman, Maurice LaCroix, Mastoloni, Perrelet Timepieces, and JCK Events.

One of the team's early goals is to bring a fresh, younger perspective to the DNA of the Judith Ripka brand, with new collections to be revealed at the Couture show in Las Vegas in June. 

The company is owned by Xcel Brands. Indian sightholder KGK Group holds the license to manufacture the jewelry, and sell and service retail accounts.

As it earlier announced plans to do, Xcel Brands has extended the Ripka brand to include shoes, handbags, and home décor. The other products are available on QVC, which carries a substantial collection of Ripka jewelry exclusively made for the network with lower price points than the signature line carried by retail jewelers. Ripka herself remains a spokesperson for the QVC collection and will serve as design consultant for the jewelry store line.

For more information on the collections and/or to make a retail appointment, please contact Marjorie Schrager at 212-244-1230 or

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