In November, while vacationing on a yacht off the coast of St. Barthélemy, Tamara Mellon took a stroll on the island and ran into Glenn Spiro, a friend who is a high-end jeweler in London. He had opened a seasonal shop on the exclusive island and invited her to visit.
“I went straight from the beach in denim shorts and a bathing suit,” the British fashion entrepreneur said. “I went back to the shop three times that week.”
Mr. Spiro is one of a handful of exclusive jewelers who have opened seasonal shops or staged weeklong exhibitions in affluent resort towns this winter, partly to cater to the continuing numbers of remote workers taking extended vacations, but also because the ultrawealthy are now used to getting what they want when they want it, even in far-flung locations.
While major jewelry houses have always followed their clients to glamorous seasonal destinations, the decision was more personal for designers such as Mr. Spiro, who said he is in St. Bart to cultivate the kind of deep relationships with clients that can’t always happen in busy cities.
“Clients are more relaxed,” he said, “the sun is shining, and people are happier.” The boutique is up a hill from St. Bart’s main shopping street, on the upstairs floor of a building with a terrace overlooking the town. You must be in the know to realize that it even exists.
It is open only about four weeks a year, when either he or his son, Joe, are visiting from London, he said. Mr. Spiro makes a limited number of one-of-a-kind pieces, so there are few on hand until one them of arrives with some stock.
“If I have a fabulous old Burmese ruby ring, I can’t just find another one,” said Mr. Spiro, who has a boutique in London and a summer location in St. Tropez. “There’s a level of excitement knowing you can’t have the jewelry all the time because we don’t make volume.”
“Space to Dream”
That hunt for a discovery and connection is what inspired Giorgio Pace and Nicolas Bellavance-Lecompte in 2017 to establish Nomad, a traveling exhibition of contemporary art, design and jewelry. It has followed the jet set to Capri, Monaco and Venice, and is scheduled to make a return visit to the Swiss ski resort of St. Moritz from Feb. 21-24, displaying its goods in a 19th-century landmark building.
Mr. Pace showcases jewelry designers whose work is not widely distributed, including Cora Shebani, Eliane Fattal, Antonia Miletto, Suzanne Syz and Fernando Jorge, all who plan to show in St. Moritz next month.
“We present designers who create a limited number of pieces, all made by hand,” he said. “Our clients are motivated to shop because they know they won’t find these pieces again.” And the designers and jewelry artists always appear during the exhibition, giving potential buyers the opportunity to meet them and discuss their work.
A visit to St. Moritz is also part of Whitney Robinson’s winter travel circuit, which includes Art Basel Miami and Palm Beach, Fla. The luxury brand and hospitality consultant, who is a jewelry collector, has shopped Nomad’s St. Moritz exhibition in the past.
“On vacation, you have the head space to dream,” Mr. Robinson said.
Seeing jewelry in a new context has inspired him to shop in St. Moritz, he said, noting that he always is tempted by the rainbow-color gemstone jewelry that the Italian jeweler Sabbadini offers at its shop in Badrutt’s Palace Hotel.
Another of his favorites is the family-owned Eleuteri shop, also at the hotel. “They have a wonderful collection of curated pieces in the window that you wouldn’t see anywhere else,” he said, “vintage Cartier, Bulgari and Van Cleef & Arpels, and estate jewels from old European families.”
Time with Clients
In mid-February, the German jeweler Hemmerle is scheduled to open an exhibition space off Wythe Avenue in Palm Beach, where Yasmin and Christian Hemmerle, the fourth generation to run the family-owned business, plan to host clients by appointment.
“People are more relaxed and therefore have more time to interact with our jewels, especially in a private setting,” Mr. Hemmerle said. “Our American clients like to come and bring their friends.” He said he visited Palm Beach for the first time three years ago, when clients began spending more time in the area, and the house has operated a seasonal store there for the past three winters before committing to a long lease for the seasonal space.
The jeweler, which makes no more than 200 pieces a year, sells only at its Munich store; at the semiannual European Fine Art Fair, best known as TEFAF; and by appointment in New York or Hong Kong when the Hemmerles are visiting.
Hemmerle’s clients tend to shop differently in Palm Beach, he said. They want everyday pieces to wear on the golf links, such as the house’s lightweight aluminum earrings with colorful gemstones.
But one person’s definition of day jewelry is different than another’s, Ms. Hemmerle said: “Clients also want diamond pieces and colorful designs, and they still dress for evening in Palm Beach.”
Like Palm Beach, the Colorado ski resorts of Aspen and Vail also have been attracting smaller jewelers with limited exposure. Davidor, which is based in Miami and Paris, opened a store in Vail last fall just in time for the ski season. The brand is known for its French-made gold, diamond and ceramic jewelry, which comes in dozens of colors.
“Clients come straight off the slopes into the store,” said the owner, David Gusky, recounting how a skier recently came in with a new blue ski outfit and wanted matching lacquer bangles. “Our jewelry is intended for an active lifestyle, skiing or golf,” he said.
As for Ms. Mellon, she said she had considered three Glenn Spiro pieces over the holidays. “I fell in love with a cuff with 50 carats of diamonds that Glenn collected over a number of years” she said. Another pair of long earrings with old African gold coins and diamonds also caught her eye.
But in the end, she purchased a seven-figure rare old seven-carat Colombian emerald that Mr. Spiro framed in carved wood and set on a sculpted gold ring. “I’m thinking about lifestyle and investment,” she said.
And it is so convenient when one of your favorite jewelers is just steps away from the beach.