How John Hardy Is Crafting A Global New Luxury Jewelry Brand with Robert Hanson, CEO

Adwoa Aboah for John Hardy

This week the luxury jewelry brand John Hardy, founded in Bali in 1975, is launching an attention-grabbing new advertising campaign. Entitled “Made for Legends,” it features actor Julianne Moore and model/activist Adwoa Aboah. Its imagery is aimed toward “redefining what it means to be a legend,” by connecting the individual “to the myth, mastery and achievement of artistry,” that the John Hardy brand epitomizes.

The new creative, captured by photographers Luigi Murenu and Iango Henzi, is presenting a philosophy of wearing jewelry “to express, to empower and most of all, to honor the unstoppable potential of the self,” the company says.

The “Made for Legends” campaign is one of the more visible initiatives the company is undertaking to craft a new luxury brand on a global scale reflecting the company’s commitment to the values of “community, artisanship and sustainability.”

I interviewed John Hardy CEO, Robert Hanson, to learn more about the brand and its strategies to reach an ever growing audience of men and women around the world who appreciate the one-of-a-kind artisan, handcrafted pieces it offers.

“John Hardy is one of the ‘best kept secrets’ in the luxury jewelry market. We are the #3 brand in the silver fine jewelry marketplace, but do not have the level of brand recognition that we deserve,” Hanson tells me. “Our ‘Made For Legends’ campaign is an important step in bringing our unique brand narrative to more clients worldwide. In many ways, given what is happening broadly in culture, now is our time.”

John Hardy is more than just a jewelry company. It’s a philosophically-driven concept that combines the magic and myths of the Bali culture with its heritage of fine craftsmanship. “We make powerful, dramatic, and inspiring artisan hand-crafted jewelry using sustainable business practices. Our clients use their jewelry as an outward expression of their personal power, attitude and expressiveness. And we have a unique origin, coming from a very magical place, Bali. Our artisans’ touch and one-of-a-kind designs makes each piece a unique talisman,” Hanson explains.

Hanson sees a number of evolving trends in the global luxury jewelry market that make John Hardy brand and its offerings a leader in the new luxury market:

  • Authentic luxury of hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind jewelry

Most prominently is the growing demand for authentic hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces that become a personal expression of the wearer’s power and individuality. “The John Hardy client is individualistically and artistically expressive. It’s an attitude and way of wearing jewelry that is growing in importance among our current clients and among prospective clients, especially millennials,” Hanson says.

He goes on to state this is a point-of-view that resonates across the globe. Currently the company ships to over 200 countries worldwide and sells in its Bali-based workshop in Ubud, along with branded boutiques in Hong Kong and three locations in the U.S., New York, Houston and most recently in Los Angeles at the Westfield Century Mall.

  • Immersive John Hardy boutiques

Because the U.S. is the world’s largest luxury market, having a strong foothold here is critically important to the growth of the John Hardy brand. Each boutique is inspired by the magic of Bali to create a “uniquely immersive retail experience that engages all five senses,” Hanson says.

Besides the jewelry presented in a gallery-like setting that invites customers to touch and feel the hand-craftsmanship, each boutique has a signature scent that evokes the lushness of Bali and the stores’ lighting shifts throughout the day to reflect the rising and setting of the Balinese sun. And the stores feature a custom playlist of sounds that blend the beats of Bali with its natural soundscapes. No matter which boutique the clients visit, “they will receive the same sensory immersion,” he says.

  • Omni-channel strategies

Having a robust and sales generating omni-channel strategy is something that no new luxury brand can do without and John Hardy is bringing it. “We recently revamped our website, modernizing it to create a more immersive, digital-first brand experience to the customer,” Hanson says. In addition to all the leading edge digital bells-and-whistles the website features, the online customer experience is further enhanced by a “live shopping” component acquired by partnering with Hero.

Hanson explains, “John Hardy is the first fine jewelry brand to offer live shopping. Hero empowers our in-boutique client services team to shop with our e-clients for the first time, through a combination of live messaging, artificial intelligence and video. By connecting the dots between the physical store and the digital business, John Hardy’s in-store client service specialists can extend their concierge service to online shoppers, boosting conversion rates by up to 10x and increasing average order value by 44%.”

“Hero has created something very special, at a time when retailers, especially in the luxury space, are needing to champion innovative ways to bring the brand experience and high touch service to where many clients are – online,” he continues.

  • Men’s jewelry

Men’s jewelry is another global trend that John Hardy is leveraging. “The men’s business has been growing at a rate well above the women’s market, rising above 20% YoY for the past few years,” Hanson notes. Further, men’s jewelry represents 30% of the company’s e-commerce, boutique and international sales.

  • Sustainability

“When John Hardy was founded in 1975, sustainability wasn’t something the luxury market generally aspired to or even thought about, yet the John Hardy brand has maintained that commitment over the years,” says Hanson.

“It runs through everything we do from the materials we source and our workshop grounds to John Hardy’s ‘Wear Bamboo, Plant Bamboo’ initiative,” he says, referring to the company’s Bamboo Collection of jewelry designs crafted from 100% certified reclaimed gold and silver, as well as gemstones sourced under best practices. In addition, for every purchase from the Bamboo Collection, the company plants new bamboo seedlings.

“The jewelry industry as a whole hasn’t led with a strong point of view around this issue, but we’re at a point where businesses are forced to recognize their global impacts and to be a force for positive change,” Hanson adds.

  • First collection from its new design director, Hollie Bonneville Barden

Finally, what new branding initiative would be complete without a new collection to promote? The John Hardy Fall 2017 collection features the first collection designed by the company’s new creative director, Hollie Bonneville Barden, and the first woman to fill that role. The collection is inspired by the “Spirit of Naga,” the brand’s mythic icon. “Through my creative process, I uncovered that, beyond the Naga myth, Balinese folklore depicts the Naga as an embodiment of different natural spirits – the earth, the ocean and the sky,” Bonnneville Barden is quoted. The collection will feature sapphire, obsidian, and bi-color amethyst in nature-inspired settings.

“Powerful, dramatic and inspiring artisan hand-crafted jewelry” are the hallmarks of the new luxury John Hardy brand. With inspiration from the nature and myths of Bali, Hanson and his team are moving beyond a product-leading marketing and branding strategy based on the traditional 4Ps – Product, Price, Promotion, Placement – to a global new luxury experientially-based one on the new 4Es model – Experience, Exchange, Evangelism, Everywhere. “John Hardy has a big opportunity in a growing luxury jewelry market with a highly distinctive brand,” Hanson concludes.