It’s said that life has its moments. Many are brief, fading quickly
from memory. Others stay with us and may even alter the course of
our lives. At PANDORA, we call these the unforgettable moments –
times to remember and celebrate because they remain important.
LONDON (p. 28)
BOSTON (p. 30)
WARSAW (p. 40)
MILAN (p. 44)
BANGKOK (p. 22)
Singapore (p. 10)
his understanding usually refers to the special relationship
that women have with our jewellery. Yet our products are
intimately bound with how we act as a group of people,
so perhaps it equally applies to our company?
Inspired by important events from the past year, we therefore
set out to look for moments that have shaped PANDORA and influenced the paths that the company will take in the future.
It’s a journey that takes us around the globe – from the designers
in Denmark, who dream up our collections, to the jewellery makers
in Thailand who bring these ideas to life, to our employees around
the world who communicate our products and take PANDORA into
new lands. This journey also takes us on a tour down memory lane
to revisit some of the places where it all started. And it reaches the
leadership of our company who brought PANDORA to where it is
today and will lead the way into the future.
But most importantly, this is a journey that offered us a chance
to meet and spend time with a few of our customers around the world
– special people who allowed us to share their personal PANDORA
moments with you. They are at the heart of this magazine, and we
are extremely grateful for their warm welcome and generosity.
We went looking for unforgettable moments – unsure if we
would find them or even if we were searching in the right place.
Yet they revealed themselves again and again.
They live in the stories that women share with each other. They
are found in the inspiration for our new collections, and in the
care and craftsmanship that bring life to our jewellery. And they are
seen in the actions of everyone in the company who work to make
Pandora so special and precious.
This magazine collects these moments. We hope you find them
worth sharing.
Pandora magazine 2010
Random perfection
30 Sharing precious memories
Hear how Ellie and Elizabeth in Australia connected
through their common passion for PANDORA’s
charm bracelets.
Meet Krystal and her daughter Bianna who found,
in PANDORA, a way of ensuring a link through
their family generations.
10 ARound the world with PANDORA
There are PANDORA stories to be found everywhere
around the world. Share a special moment that we
caught in Singapore’s Changi Airport.
Hear about how PANDORA forever changed the
shared connection between Sarah, adoptive mother
Nancy, and birth mother Myrna.
38 A sparkle in their mind’s eye
Spend a day at PANDORA’s production facilities in
Gemopolis, Thailand, to discover the magic behind
the jewellery.
Get an insight into the PANDORA jewellery
design process and learn where the designers
find their inspiration.
22Freewheeling down memory lane
40 To Russia With Love
Experience 30 years of history in one afternoon on
a tour around Bangkok with PANDORA founder
Per Enevoldsen.
28 A shared vision
44 PANDORA steps into Italy
Learn about the shared vision that PANDORA
Chairman Allan Leighton and Chief Executive
Mikkel Vendelin Olesen have for the company.
Have a cup of coffee with Peter Mark, head of
PANDORA Central Eastern Europe, and hear about
the company’s entry into Eastern Europe and Russia.
Join top Italian fashion editor Barbara Rodeschini on
a personal tour around Milan’s design district to put
PANDORA’s recent entry in Italy into perspective.
We have to rush to meet Ellie and Elizabeth. They are both
on their way to a birthday party. Tomorrow is Australia’s 223rd
birthday, and the whole nation is getting ready to celebrate
2011 ANNUAL magazine
2011 ANNUAL magazine
ou have to have schnitzel,” says Ellie, recommending a particular local dish. “Schnitzel with chips
and gravy,” Elizabeth elaborates. Before adding:
“And beers. In an Aussie pub.”
The debate takes in the merits of meat pies and the various types of schnitzel to choose from before coming back
to the real passion both women share: PANDORA jewellery.
As manager of the PANDORA store in Adelaide’s bustling Myer shopping centre, you might expect Ellie to talk
passionately about the store, PANDORA’s products and
the new Valentine’s Day range that has customers talking,
but when you scratch the surface, it becomes clear that
this is a passion that has turned into a career, rather than
the other way round.
Says Ellie: “I started my PANDORA collection when
I was travelling throughout Europe a few years ago.
I bought a bracelet in Amsterdam, got my first charms
from my mum for Christmas, then collected charms and
mementoes in Italy, Germany, France, and so on.” Like
many others, every item in her collection tells a personal
story. “It’s like wearing a diary or a photo album,” she
says, before explaining the significance of everything she
is wearing today.
She continues: “When I got home from my travels,
I saw that a PANDORA store was opening in Adelaide and
I thought: ‘I have to apply, it’s my dream job’.” Apply she
did, and a role as sales assistant was followed by management of the Adelaide store.
Elizabeth is one of Ellie’s regular customers but, more
than that, they share the shorthand comments and references
that suggests they know a lot more about each other than you
might expect for a store manager and customer.
Elizabeth explains: “We kind of know each other
through the charms. By talking about why I am buying a
particular item, I talk with Ellie about things that I wouldn’t
ordinarily share. The only time you do that with clothes is
when you are buying a wedding dress.”
Elizabeth began her PANDORA collection a couple of
years ago. “I bought a leather bracelet to begin with, then a
work colleague and I started emailing about which products
we loved, and where new stores were opening.”
“I served you with your first bracelet,” Ellie chips in.
“I remember.”
Both Elizabeth and Ellie agree that PANDORA is something of a phenomenon among their friends and family.
“It’s very ‘word of mouth’,” says Elizabeth. “But you see
people wearing PANDORA products more and more, and
there’s a sort of a ‘knowing look’, a recognition when you
see another PANDORA fan.”
It emerges that there is also a passion among PANDORA
fans for their store too. “I wouldn’t go anywhere else,” says
Elizabeth. “I always shop here, and I always ask for Ellie. And
when I recommend friends and colleagues to PANDORA,
I tell them to do the same.”
Ellie laughs, as she adds: “We even have one customer
who comes from Alice Springs – that’s 1,500 kilometres
away. There’s a real following for the brand, and a real customer loyalty to their stores.”
Elizabeth takes her turn to explain the significance of
her PANDORA collection, which seems to be packed with
animal charms. She says: “I love animals. If I could have a
zoo, I would. But I’m building one out of charms instead.”
“Ellie sold me this elephant charm,” says Elizabeth,
“so I named it after her. All my animal charms have names.
This is Ellie the Elephant. I think elephants bring you good
luck, and it’s also a reminder of a trip I took to Thailand.”
Naming the charm Ellie sparked another idea in Elizabeth’s mind too. “I had always received great service, and
I had built this connection to Ellie through sharing with her
a lot of why I was buying each particular charm. So I decided I was going to buy one for her too.”
“So I was browsing the display one day and I homed
in on the elephant: ‘Do you like the elephant?’ I asked, and
Ellie said yes. So I got her to wrap it up and give it to me
and then I said: ‘Thanks, but it’s actually for you’.”
Ellie blushes and beams at the memory: “That’s never
happened to me before. I was amazed, smiling from ear to
ear for the rest of the day. It was incredible. A true ‘unforgettable moment’.”
Ellie proudly displays the elephant charm. She says it
has pride of place among a collection that includes five
bracelets, seven rings, two pairs of earrings and a necklace.
She says it’s easy to sell something when you love it too.
We leave Ellie and Liz still chatting. Out of the
PANDORA store, out of the shopping mall, into the still
warm Australian sun. People are heading home, flags are
fluttering in the gentle breeze – the party is about to start and
more unforgettable moments are about to burst into life.
Somewhere in the world, there is an elephant charm
called ‘Ellie’. The reason? Just because. There’s perfection in
randomness. Just ask Ellie Horne.
2011 ANNUAL magazine
the world
Singapore’s Changi Airport has a thousand stories to tell
every day. As one of South-East Asia’s major hubs for air
travel, it sees enough goodbyes, reunions, lost luggage
and trips of a lifetime to last, well, a lifetime.
erminal 3 handles most of the airport’s regional
flights, to Singapore’s near neighbours such as
India, Malaysia, Indonesia and the like. Among
the newspaper shops, luggage outlets and duty
free stores, is a PANDORA concept store. Bright, white
and beaming at all who pass by.
“Loooook!” comes a squealed half-whisper, and a smiling, pink-from-the-sun couple bowl into the store lugging
backpacks that look as if they may burst onto the spotless
floor at any moment.
“Look, look, look, look, look!” comes the urgent whispering again, as the woman’s fingers dart like a one-fingered
typist’s, pointing out her favourites in the display cabinets.
Ruth and John Fuller are on honeymoon. Married on
14 August, they’ll be travelling until 23 August. No, not
for a week, but for a year and a week. This is no ordinary
honeymoon, this is one of those genuine, authentic ‘trips
of a lifetime’, and you can tell that they are just loving it.
Right now, they are en route from Japan to Bangkok
via Singapore, but there’s a particular reason for their excitement at seeing the PANDORA logo on their way to the
departure gate.
Says John: “A couple of months ago, I had the idea that
we should get a bracelet and build a collection of charms
that represent each of the places we’ve been to. Then we
met someone in Bali who had a PANDORA bracelet and
we both really liked it.”
He continues: “A few days ago, we were flying with
Cathay Pacific and we saw the PANDORA bracelet in their
in-flight magazine, so we bought it using the last of our
Japanese Yen. Now we’re starting to add the charms.”
The couple have already been to Central and South
America, Australia and New Zealand, and travelled
2011 ANNUAL magazine
through Japan, and now they are working their way
through South-East Asia. After this comes India, and then
the long journey home.
So what did they add to their collection today? Ruth
proudly displays her bracelet and singles out three new
additions: “A turtle, to remind us of the Galapagos Islands,”
she looks at John and says: “That was amazing.” Then she
continues: “A Buddha for South-East Asia, and a suitcase
for the whole trip,” she says.
They agree that they can’t agree about their favourite
places. Names of countries tumble from their lips as if they
are young children telling what they received as birthday
gifts: “Argentina, Japan, New Zealand, Mexico, Panama...”
in no particular order.
Their story told, John and Ruth start to look anxiously
at the departures board. “We already nearly missed one
flight,” says Ruth, before John adds: “We woke up at 9am
in central Tokyo when we had a 10.45 flight. They were
actually boarding the plane when we got to the airport but,
thankfully, they still let us get on.”
Ruth nods, adding: “Then of course you’re worried
whether your suitcases will turn up.”
As they dash to catch their flight, backpacks and the
Singapore heat conspiring to turn them even more pink
than when they arrived, a little sparkle on Ruth’s wrist
catches the light. Perhaps from the only suitcase she’ll
never let out of her sight. And then they are gone.
Off to add to a lifelong collection. Off to create more
unforgettable moments.
By the end of 2010, PANDORA had established a commercial presence in more than 50 airports around the world, and PANDORA
jewellery was sold through in-flight stores on board more than 20
international airlines.
under the
Flame Trees
In Bangkok the sun rises as fast as a Thai smile. If you
take your eyes off it for a second, it’s as if half an hour
has passed. There’s a similar effect with the remarkable
craftspeople of PANDORA. Each piece is worked by hands
that move at dizzying speed and with such precision that
you dare not look away for a second. Located outside of
Bangkok in an area known as Gemopolis, the productive
heart of PANDORA is a remarkable place.
eople flow into PANDORA in ones and twos, chatting and laughing in the soft morning light. First one,
then eight, then twenty, forty, eighty. And still they
arrive, dressed in purple shirts and pointing and
smiling at the photographer. It’s like New Year’s Eve when
you think that the fireworks will stop but they keep on coming. More and more people, arriving by scooter, car or bus.
It’s the start of the working day at PANDORA. People
arrive and then sit on steps or at tables under the shade of
the yellow flame trees with saffron flowers that accent their
green leaves like stones in a ring. There’s time to enjoy a
quick breakfast or take the opportunity for a last make-up
check. It’s large-scale yet intimate — like a family gathering,
or a reunion perhaps.
We’re here to spend a day getting to know the people
and find an answer to a puzzling question: how is the quality and craftsmanship of PANDORA possible on such a
scale? With PANDORA stores continuing to open around
the world, it’s easy to question whether each piece can still
be crafted by hand. After all, PANDORA already supplies
thousands of stores. In 2010, another 57 million pieces
went into circulation and nearly two pieces were sold every
second. How is this possible?
The answer is not, as you might expect, industrial processes and conveyor belts of machines and robots. Rather it’s
2011 ANNUAL magazine
under the yellow flame trees
the result of many, many small teams of highly-skilled people.
If, as a child, you wondered how Santa’s helpers could create
presents for every single boy and girl in the world, then a tour
of PANDORA comes close to explaining it.
PANDORA is a well-run organisation but you’ll receive
a quick rebuke if you say that people are managed. “People
here manage themselves,” states Thomas Nyborg who runs
the day-to-day operations. “No jewellery business of this
size can work through management, or at least management
as it’s usually thought of.” Instead Thomas describes how
they focus on ensuring that people are well treated and empowered to find and solve problems themselves. “If you’re
stressed, you won’t be able to work well or produce pieces at
the quality we need. So, for PANDORA to function, respect
for each other and good conditions are the starting point.”
“It surprises people when they hear that Thailand operates with the same working rules as in Europe. In fact, Thailand based its labour legislation on the European system.
And of course PANDORA meets all the local regulations
and often we exceed them and do even better.”
The quality of the working conditions is very apparent. From the pleasant grounds with their shady spots and
feng shui enhancing carp pool, to the free bus service,
health checks and extra breaks for pregnant women, to the
recreation areas and the stringent safety rules – it’s clear that
people care about each other. Scratch the surface and you
notice how deep this goes.
“A lot of people come here from villages far away,” says
Thomas. “But they aren’t used to city life and may need
help with some aspects of living here. Credit cards can be a
problem for instance, just as they can for people anywhere.
So we set up something called ‘quality of life training’ to
explain how to manage financial services and help people
if they have problems. We also operate a buddy system for
new employees to make sure that they are integrated into
the company socially.”
Sometimes the scale of these initiatives makes you stop
and wonder. The yearly company outing, for example, takes
so many buses that it requires a police escort. “We’re going
to have to change this,” muses Thomas. “We’ll do a series of
more intimate outings instead.”
The result of these initiatives is, according to Thomas,
not only quality products but also a low turnover of staff.
“We tend to keep people and then add more,” he smiles.
Keeping people, though, isn’t enough. Thomas is now focused on developing staff through training and, more importantly perhaps, enabling them to explore their own potential.
Thomas recounts a recent occasion when a team came
to him and said that they were worried about the number
of whiteboard markers that got used. The team reviewed
the issue and worked out that the problem was that people
press too hard and the nibs get flat and stop working. So
they made a presentation and outlined a process in which
the pens get their nibs changed to extend their life.
“It was a really minor thing but when people say that
they want to do something, then you should let them,”
he says. “In itself it sounds trivial but, for us, these projects
“No jewellery business of this size can work
through management, or at least management
as it’s usually thought of.”
2011 ANNUAL magazine
under the yellow flame trees
have important outcomes. The point was really that the
team learnt a lot by doing this — exercising their analytical
abilities, developing presentation skills and building a sense
of achievement that carries on to other projects.”
Taking over the day-to-day running of the operation
from PANDORA’s founder Per Enevoldsen, Thomas is working to build on what has already been achieved. “Per will
go down in history as the man who figured out how to
make quality jewellery on a large scale. That’s his legacy.
It’s an amazing achievement. I’m now working with Per and
the team here to make sure we will always be the best jewellery production facility in the world – both in terms of the
quality of the pieces and how we develop each other.”
This emphasis is essential, Thomas believes, because
it’s the people who really matter. To understand how
PANDORA production works, you need to understand that
it’s people who make it possible. “So if you’re looking for
the reason why we can provide handcrafts on this scale,
it really comes down to individual skill and personal engagement and motivation. “And to see that,” said Thomas,
“you need to meet Aom.”
Amornrat Kaewpan, known as ‘Aom’ to everyone, is part
of the Visitor Team who take people on regular inspections
and visits. Smart, friendly and highly informed, Aom is
usually found somewhere in the PANDORA complex with
the representatives of the media or groups of suppliers who
have come to see for themselves how their raw materials
get transformed into PANDORA design.
“We run a visit pretty much every week,” she explains.
“We can go anywhere you like and please feel free to ask
anyone questions. Or let me know if there’s something
you’d like to learn. Where shall we start?”
The scale of the operation is the first thing that strikes
you. Aom’s tour takes you through multiple processes that
are a feast for the eyes. So much so that it only takes a few
minutes before disorientation starts to set in. You nod to smiling staff, thinking that you met earlier but find yourself in
an entirely new part of the operation. Multiple processes for
each of the pieces start to melt into one and you’re unsure
precisely where in the complex process you find yourself.
After a while you let the big picture slowly come into
focus by itself and allow the individual skill that Thomas
mentioned to fully capture your attention. Up close, the
craftsmanship is breathtaking.
Watching raw Murano glass transform into a finished
decorated bead is a visual feast. First, waxy melted glass
is caught by a steel rod that is twisted over a gas torch.
Powdered hands keep the rod turning evenly for a perfect
bead shape. The flame hits the glass like an asteroid hits the
Earth’s atmosphere — white hot at the front with a yellow
tail. Held up for inspection, it transforms from a glowing
red to a rich blue as the glass cools. Further colours are
added with a dab of melted glass and another blast of flame
to smooth. Dab, twist, smooth. Repeat. The actions are
hypnotic in their precision and rhythm. Behind their safety
goggles, the look of total concentration in the workers’ eyes
can only be guessed at, but it has to be there.
It’s a giant operation that seems to require
a microscope to truly see and understand.
“You have to see this,” says Aom, pointing to a woman
working with a clear glass bead. It’s a new product that
may or may not be joining the other charms in stores
around the world. Right now, they are testing the design
to see if the right quality can be achieved. The women
adds tiny stars and flowers to the clear glass. She’s not
happy with the result but it looks lovely and we’re transfixed by how she makes the shapes bond with the glass.
This expert skill is apparent everywhere you turn.
No matter what remarkable number of pieces are created
each day, it’s these classical techniques that ensure each
is genuine and unique.
In the stone setting section, it’s apparent just how ancient the processes for making jewellery are at PANDORA.
The glinting stones contrast with the craftsman’s tools —
tiny wooden-handled hammers or the dull metal vice that
holds the pieces gently in hardened wax.
It’s a matter of pride that no glue is ever used to set a
stone. All stones are set traditionally, with silver or gold
prongs or other clasps that hold them delicately in place.
2011 ANNUAL magazine
Requiring very deft taps of the jeweller’s hammer, the metal
is gently coaxed over the stone with controlled pressure.
So concentrated is this work that it’s easy to startle
someone. To take a look, you need to approach quietly.
Yet even with this level of skill, the stones can break or
incur tiny cracks. In fact, quite a few of the more fragile
stones will break during the setting process – a reminder
that these are natural materials transformed through human
action, not machine powered mass production. No matter
how skilled the craftsman, defects will occur and these are
calmly placed aside, a necessary price of craft technique.
At each stage of the production processes, exacting
quality-control measures ensure that only the best pieces
go forward. Many stones are rejected long before the
stone setters see them. In fact, two out of every five stones
that come to PANDORA fail to meet the company’s quality standards.
It’s in the cool and quiet gemstone grading section that
the stones are first scrutinised. Lit by daylight lamps and
decorated in shades of grey, a colour that helps the human
eye stay sharp and well rested, the stone grading process
again requires total concentration.
PANDORA fans would love this room. A pirate’s
hoard of precious and semi-precious stones continually
catch the eye – glittering from containers, spread over
desks and held with tweezers for closer examination.
There’s a basket of black onyx that look like polished
blackcurrants. Rhodolite looks like pomegranate seeds.
There are so many colours: purple amethyst, silver-grey
haematite and cold, white diamonds.
Each stone is checked for size, shape and quality.
Broken, discoloured, incorrectly polished or poorly cut
stones are rejected and returned to suppliers. Often the
‘defects’ are tiny and it’s a struggle to see them. To the
untrained eye, they only become apparent after a period
of intense scrutiny, if at all.
That’s often the way at the PANDORA production
facility — it’s a giant operation that seems to require a
microscope to truly see and understand.
As Aom leads us through the various stages of jewellery production — moulds, casting, assembly, stone-setting, polishing and onwards — it becomes apparent that
the action is often in the tiny details; the precise, measured movements of hands and fingers, or in the focusing
of an eye. Remarkable people with amazing skills. It’s a
reminder of Thomas’ focus on developing talent and personal engagement and motivation.
If you want to understand PANDORA you can follow
the different processes for each of the pieces but, perhaps,
it’s better to focus on the work of a single craftsman. In his
or her actions, you’ll see a skill and quality that gets transferred to all PANDORA jewellery.
It’s the end of the working day and, though it’s not late,
the sun is already starting to set. If anything, it falls faster
than it rose. People gather once more in the grounds and
under the yellow flame trees
then start to make their way home, still laughing and smiling. It’s been an unforgettable day — one that revealed an
aspect of that special something about PANDORA that’s
played out in the delicate rhythmic tapping of a hammer
and the turning of glass under fire.
Even before you touch a piece of PANDORA, it already
contains stories and memories of its creation. It’s a story of
an obsession for quality and a testament to the craftsman’s
skill. So, the next time that you touch a piece of PANDORA
for the first time, spare a thought for the dedicated hands
that produced it and spend a second to honour their skill
before you make it entirely yours.
In 2010, PANDORA opened two new factories in Gemopolis, adding
to its existing two facilities opened in 2005 and 2008 respectively, and
bringing the total number of employees in PANDORA’s production
team in Thailand to more than 3,600 people.
Nearly 30 years in one afternoon. That’s the trip we took with
Per Enevoldsen, the founder of PANDORA. Driving, literally, down
memory lane, we revisit some of the small workshops in Bangkok
where it all started. It’s a journey that began as a search for high-quality
hand-finished jewellery at prices women could afford and ended with
PANDORA producing its own jewellery solely in Thailand.
2011 ANNUAL magazine
freewheeling down memory lane
e meet Per in the quiet, beautiful garden of
his home in a residential area just outside
Bangkok. It’s not too far from Gemopolis,
the industrial zone where today PANDORA
has its impressive production facilities, employing thousands of goldsmiths, silversmiths and other dedicated jewellery makers.
And there he stands. An earthbound, quite ordinary
looking man with the glint in his eyes that have a knowing sparkle – a reminder of the remarkable history of how
PANDORA was created. Today, Per Enevoldsen has promised to take us on a trip around Bangkok to visit some of
the places where PANDORA first started to produce its
own jewellery more than 20 years ago.
As we leave the peaceful garden and head off towards
the busy roads surrounding the lively centre of Bangkok,
we start at the very beginning. It’s a quest for a ring.
Back in the early 1980s, after having taken over a small
jeweller’s shop on the outskirts of Copenhagen, Denmark,
the young, newly-educated goldsmith Per Enevoldsen was
invited to join his father on a trip to South-East Asia. Having
a small business within Danish jewellery wholesale, Per’s
father already had the right contacts. And so Per decided to
go with him to search for the right place to buy, or maybe
even one day to produce, his own high-quality jewellery.
“In Denmark, at that time, everybody was competing
on price,” Per recalls, thinking back on the early days of
purchasing for the jewellery shop in Copenhagen. “Nobody
seemed to really care about the poor quality and the disappointed customers it created.”
Just before we left his home, Per showed us the first
PANDORA silver ring ever produced in Thailand. As we
now sit there, waiting for a gap in the traffic, he explains:
“If we wanted to produce in Thailand it was
clear that we would have to do it ourselves.”
2011 ANNUAL magazine
freewheeling down memory lane
“If you hollow out a ring to save silver and thereby reduce
the price, you end up with a ring that looks fine at first.
But after some years it will probably start to bend and one
day maybe even break.” He stops and seems to scout for
a signal to hit the throttle. “My idea was to go in the opposite direction.”
He accelerates the car and gently slides in between
trucks and motor scooters. “Don’t worry. I’m used to it.”
His smile reminds us of the fact that he has actually spent
almost half a lifetime here.
Exactly half a lifetime earlier, the young Per Enevoldsen
started his journey, searching for jewellery of the right quality. To provide his customers with high quality at an affordable price, his strategy was rather to offer to pay a little more,
as long as he could then get what he was looking for.
After visiting a number of countries on their trip around
South-East Asia, Per finally arrived in Thailand. Discovering its centuries-long history of handling precious metals
and gemstones, a tradition for craftsmanship and quality
production, and, not least, the friendly and respectful atmosphere of the Thai culture, Per had no doubt in his mind
– this was the place he was looking for.
At first he started to work with local suppliers to produce
complete pieces — initially still solely for the Danish market.
“We wanted to produce really high-quality items but in
short production runs because they were only for Denmark.
It took a long time to get the quality level we wanted. Also
we were very small, and you could tell that our suppliers
thought that we were too much trouble. So if we wanted to
produce in Thailand it was clear after a while that we would
have to do it ourselves.”
As we bounce down a dusty road, high hump-backed
bridges slow the car to a crawl. Green fields to one side
are disturbed by scattered dwellings. We’re entering a more
built up area and the place where PANDORA started all
those years ago.
“It’s still mixed use,” says Per looking around. “It’s OK
to have small, craft-based businesses here but it’s a residential area so nothing too large scale. That suited us.”
We pull into a colourful though slightly dusty street.
It’s sleepy this afternoon. No one else is on the road as Per
turns and scans the buildings. He has a little trouble locating the place. “This one maybe… No, this is it.”
We stop in front of a two-storey building. Potted plants
with blue and yellow flowers line the concrete steps up
to a blue metal pull-down door. It’s hard to connect this
charming but humble building with PANDORA’s gleaming
production facilities of today. Yet this is where the story
really began, with the first team of PANDORA craftsmen.
“There were only a handful of people working in
those days,” say Per. “Just six or so.” Later we see the
photo album Per kept of the early years – group portraits
of people smiling for the camera, many of them are still
with the company.
We trundle past to a covered market and then turn a
corner. Per points to the second floor of a tiny building. “I
lived up there for many years.” It’s modest. A testament to
the early years when the company grew slowly. Looking at
PANDORA today, it’s easy to forget that it hasn’t been an
overnight success. Yet if you make this point to Per he
will look at you for a short moment and then simply say:
“I remember!”
For nearly 30 years, a lot of the time in Thailand, he
has worked to build the company and fine tune the processes that enable women around the world to access quality
jewellery. Per has the eye of the goldsmith and the mind of
a logical systems thinker. “I’m interested in logic and mathematical things,” he says. “It’s perhaps an odd combination
with being a goldsmith.”
These two elements are, however, still very apparent
in PANDORA today and explain how the company can
provide handcrafted quality in such large numbers. In effect,
Per scaled up the goldsmith’s workshop, creating systems
that allowed for hand-finished pieces to become affordable
for women around the world. From each step of craftsmanship through obsessional quality control to extensive training
programmes for new employees, these are processes that run
through the production at PANDORA like blood in the veins.
With these systems and a dedicated eye for quality,
PANDORA grew over the years from a handful of people
to thousands of employees who work together today. Yet
in some fundamental ways, it’s not that different to the
small workshops that we’re looking at now. Each piece is
still hand-finished and uses traditional jewellery making
2011 ANNUAL magazine
“You have to take risks or you don’t
achieve anything.”
techniques that go back thousands of years. PANDORA
today isn’t this workshop but neither is it a factory. “It’s a
‘factshop’ maybe,” jokes Per. It’s telling that he needs to
invent a word to describe the PANDORA production,
since it’s really something different.
We’re back on the road and looking to make another
jump into the heavy afternoon traffic. When it had outgrown
its first home, PANDORA production moved to another location only minutes away by car. We turn left into a tree-lined
street and stop outside a light industrial workshop. There’s little to see except a sign that reads ‘Trillian Studio’. It’s a music
studio now but there is no apparent activity this afternoon.
“When we moved here we got everything inside on one
truck,” recalls Per. “But it was exciting because this space
was twice as big. We could now employ more people.”
While there was a market already established in Denmark, even this expansion wasn’t without risks. “You have
to take risks or you don’t achieve anything,” he says. Yet
Per is more one for considered actions. It’s in the way he
speaks. And as a logical thinker, Per was aware that setting
up in Thailand wasn’t a guaranteed success.
With the growth being gradual for so many years, it’s
tempting to ask Per when he thought that PANDORA would
be a success. Was there ever a moment when he thought
that this was going to work? When they knew that they
were on the right path?
“It was when we launched the bracelet in Denmark in
2000. You see, in Denmark everyone tends to return their
Christmas presents and swap them for something else. It’s a
kind of tradition — everyone does it. But a funny thing happened. The women who received the bracelet did indeed
return to the store but not to exchange it. They wanted to
get more charms. When we heard that, we knew that we
were onto something.”
This moment was the herald of a complete change of
pace and a new era for the company. Soon international
markets followed and, with increasing numbers of customers, the production facility had to be expanded to keep
pace – a process that continues very much today.
freewheeling down memory lane
We leave the past behind as we finish our tour at the gate to
Gemopolis, the jewellery industry zone outside of Bangkok,
which, since 2003, has hosted PANDORA’s rapidly growing production. If the blueprint for the company resides
somehow in those small buildings and workshops we have
visited today, the heart of PANDORA is now very much
here, where the people are. The ‘family’, as the people at
PANDORA often refer to themselves.
For Per, the success of PANDORA is due mostly to how
they treat each other. “If you tell people what to do all the
time, they will wait for your orders,” he explains. “We’ve
never done that. People who work here have the freedom
to act and anticipate problems that I would never think of.
We’re not really managing but more enabling them to make
the right decisions.”
There is now a team around Per which takes on the
day-to-day operations. “If you had asked me a few years
ago, I would have said that I’d be working until I’m 70. But,
with the company continuing to grow, it was important for
me to have a skilled team around me, and I’m happy now
to be able to hand over the daily operations.”
“I think of it like raising a daughter. You do everything
possible to bring her up properly but at some point you
know she will have to leave home and get married. And
even though you’re a bit anxious and wish her well, you
know it’s the right thing to do. And you realise it’s actually
a moment for celebration.”
In 1982, Danish goldsmith Per Enevoldsen and his wife Winnie established PANDORA. Later, Per moved to Thailand and, in 1989, he started
up PANDORA’s first in-house production. As of 1 April 2011, as part of
his planned retirement, Per will hand over the formal responsibility as
Managing Director of PANDORA Production to Thomas Nyborg, who
has worked closely with Per since 2008. Per will continue his relationship with PANDORA as Chairman of PANDORA Production and will
focus on specific project assignments, including further improving
PANDORA’s production systems.
The first thing that strikes you about PANDORA Chairman Allan Leighton and Chief Executive Mikkel Vendelin
Olesen is their presence.
llan, comes across as smart, assured, and mildly
menacing. Then he speaks, and he is all affability
and enthusiasm.
Mikkel, meanwhile, has an easy Nordic charm,
and oozes the qualities that make a visit to that part of the world
one of quiet efficiency and informal ease. He mixes the familiar
business-speak of a CEO with the kind of personal comments
that reveal the genuine affection he has for PANDORA.
This hybrid of professionalism and passion also make
Mikkel a compelling storyteller, and right now, he is talking
effusively about PANDORA’s 2010 and plans for the company’s future.
It’s worth pausing to consider that, for a company
whose products are so closely linked to the personal stories
of its customers, PANDORA itself has a few remarkable
tales to tell. In the past year alone, the company has built
two new factories in Thailand, made its debut on the Copenhagen stock exchange, moved into several new markets,
broadened its product range, and added some formidable
new talent to its leadership team.
Choosing a highlight from all of that must be harder
than choosing a favourite from the PANDORA range of
products? Mikkel fixes an intense stare somewhere in the
middle-distance and then decides: “Taking the company to
the stock market was a very special experience. It’s quite a
sanity check to put the business through. When very experienced investors see us as a company they want to invest in,
it confirms a lot of things that we already knew, about our
strategy, brand and products.”
Allan has a unique perspective on this, being appointed as
Chairman of the Board in the lead-up to the stock market
flotation. “When I first became aware of PANDORA, I was
looking through the company’s performance data saying to
myself: ‘This can’t be true’. I spent four hours trying to prove
to myself that it wasn’t true before conceding that it was.
Then I asked my wife if she had heard of this company and
she said: ‘Yes, I’m wearing one of their bracelets now’.”
After a little more digging and a few speculative discussions, Allan was hooked. “I very quickly went from ‘first
contact’ to ‘I want to be involved’. This company has the
potential to create something very special indeed.”
But isn’t the concept of a company being ‘something
special’ a little, well, soft for two hard-headed businessmen?
“I don’t think so,” says Mikkel. “You don’t get the response we have had from our customers unless you have
something they think is pretty special. Our customers trust
PANDORA products as a way of expressing who they are
and sharing that story with others. A brand that unlocks that
level of intimacy is rare and very powerful.”
Mikkel wears the twin duties of trusted custodian and ambitious businessman with equal responsibility. He says: “Our ethos
goes back to the foundation of this company – give customers
better quality, exceed their expectations. That idea still persists.”
Allan says the ability to balance that idea of PANDORA
as something special with a sound and structured approach
to growing the business is the rarest of commodities:
“In an industry that has seen precious little growth over recent
years, we have introduced a concept that is seeing people
2011 ANNUAL magazine
queuing up at jewellers’ shops, knowing that they are buying something intensely personal, and of a quality that they
can trust. So they come back again, and again, and again.
It sounds pretty simple, but it’s incredibly hard to get right.”
You get the feeling that Allan spends his life looking for
this kind of simplicity. He knows that if something is simply
explained and easily understood, it can be communicated over
and over again – something that may go some way to explaining how PANDORA has become a worldwide phenomenon.
“This business is built on peoples’ stories,” says Allan.
“When I began to hear them, I was hooked.”
Sitting back for a moment, and watching the exchange,
the mutual admiration between Allan and Mikkel is plain
to see. They speak the same language, contribute to each
others’ stories, then one will sit back and allow the other
to hold sway before joining in again when needed.
Mikkel says of the relationship: “When you play tennis
with your brother, of course you play hard and you want to win.
But when you play against Federer or Nadal, you play better
and you learn a lot too. That’s what it’s like working with Allan.”
Allan is equally complimentary about Mikkel and the
rest of the PANDORA management team. He says, “The
first thing I ask myself before taking on a role like this is: ‘Is
the CEO good?’ I knew the answer was yes as soon as I met
Mikkel. Then you look at the management team, and I have
to say this is an organisation with a common purpose. There
are no politics here, which is very, very interesting.”
Despite singling out the stock market flotation as a highlight, Mikkel is clear that it was just one milestone on a long
a shared vision
journey. He says: “A lot of companies see getting a stock exchange listing as having ‘made it’. That was especially true in
the days of the internet boom. But this is just ‘base camp’ for
us. We are changing the way things are done in our industry
and people are beginning to realise that.”
He cites further opportunities in the United States, expansion into the Asia-Pacific region, and key luxury goods markets
such as Russia, India, China and Japan as just a few examples
of where PANDORA can continue to grow.
So, if this is base camp, what does the summit look like?
“One day,” says Mikkel, “we will be the biggest jewellery company in the world, there’s no doubt in my mind about that.”
As if feeling the need to explain how all of this will
happen, Mikkel launches into a lively summary of the
PANDORA strategy – being more visible than ever before,
a wider range of products, more markets, and caring for the
PANDORA brand as if it were the most precious jewel of all.
And with that, Allan and Mikkel say thanks. With a
quick handshake, they sweep off to a board meeting at
PANDORA’s nearby London offices. As they depart, there’s
a quick flutter of wings from some pigeons, and then they
blend into the London crowd.
You sense that they would have it no other way. There’s
too much to do to have it interrupted by fuss of any kind.
And there too, may lay the secret of success for the company they head.
On 31 August 2010, PANDORA announced the expansion of its Board
of Directors, adding five new board members with a complementary
mix of skills, expertise and global business experience. On 8 September, the day after announcing its intention to launch an Initial Public
Offering, PANDORA announced the appointment of Allan Leighton to
the Chairmanship of PANDORA. On 5 October 2010, the company was
successfully listed on the NASDAQ OMX Copenhagen stock exchange.
January in Boston. The snow is melting, then the melt-water re-freezing
each night. Every time, becoming a poorer imitation of its former self.
It’s as if winter knows that Christmas has gone and is trying to retain an
impression of it, but the harder it tries, the less certain the memory becomes.
2011 ANNUAL magazine
sharing precious memories
“We thought about it,” says Krystal.
“Is she old enough, is she responsible enough?
But she loves her bracelet and she always
says that’s her favourite charm because of
Nana Millie and Big Nana.”
t’s this idea of holding onto precious memories that has
brought us to Boston, or, more precisely, to Swampscott, a northern suburb of the city, where the Pierce
family live.
Krystal, 28, began her love affair with PANDORA jewellery a few years ago when husband Bryan bought her a
silver bracelet with bumble-bee and forget-me-knot charms.
“Each one has a story behind it,” she says.
Says Krystal: “My husband’s nickname when he was
growing up was ‘Bee’, and our daughters’ names – Bianna,
who is nine, and Brooklyn, four – both begin with ‘B’, so the
bumble-bee has always had a special place in our family.”
She explains the meaning of the remaining charms as if
they are old friends worthy of introduction, and you sense
that this is a regular ritual.
“My mother bought me an owl charm, she said: ‘because I was smart’. I guess owls are supposed to be smart,”
says Krystal, in a soft balance of humility and pride. Krystal
is training to be a teacher. She has been studying for three
years now and is the first in her family to go to college.
After graduating, she plans to study law.
Then there’s the birthstone – sapphire, the Christmas
tree, the heart, the yellow and black beads – more reference
to the bumble-bee theme. Then there’s the forget-me-knot
charm. Krystal’s fingers linger for a while on this one, touching it, twisting it, and her eyes gaze at something faraway.
“This one is for my grandmother, Nana Millie,” says
Krystal. “She was more like a mother to me. She took care
of me when I was little, and spoiled me rotten when I was
growing up. If I got in trouble at school, she’d be the one
who made sure I didn’t get in trouble at home.”
Krystal goes on: “She was tough too. She went to
bingo all the time. She loved bingo, but the reason she
would go was to win so she could give me money for
bills. She’d walk in the house and just stick the money
2011 ANNUAL magazine
sharing precious memories
in my pocket. She would want nothing more than for us
to be happy.”
The bond between grandmother and granddaughter
extended to another generation when little Bianna arrived.
Says Krystal: “Nana Millie idolised Bianna. She would
try to spend every second she could with her. They were very
close. We have home videos of Bianna where all you can
hear is Nana Millie talking about what Bianna is doing.”
When Krystal was eight-months pregnant with Brooklyn,
Nana Millie succumbed to pneumonia. Within weeks, the
same thing happened to Bryan’s grandmother, ‘Big Nana’.
Brooklyn missed meeting them by a matter of weeks.
Krystal twists the forget-me-knot charm between thumb
and forefinger. She says: “It was a lot to deal with. I remember that the biggest concern for both Nanas was holding on
to see Brooklyn. Neither of them did, but they see her now.”
Krystal smiles and looks upwards.
Bianna interrupts the quiet moment by showing off her
own PANDORA bracelet. There, among the charms, is a
forget-me-knot charm which matches Krystal’s. “This one
is for both Nanas,” she says, with a big, warm smile.
“We thought about it,” says Krystal. “Is she old enough,
is she responsible enough? But she loves her bracelet and
she always says that’s her favourite charm because of Nana
Millie and Big Nana.”
I put it to Krystal that the bracelets, and the forgetme-knot charms especially, are her way of ensuring a link
through their family generations. A way of showing that
they are always connected.
“Absolutely.” She says. “That’s why I tell my husband
to hurry up and fill my bracelet, so I can get another – I have
two daughters and I want to pass the bracelets down to them.
It’s an expression of ‘self’, of my personality. I can see my
daughters wearing these in 20 years time, and their daughters
wearing them, and their daughters... passing it along.”
This notion of Krystal’s collection being an expression
of personality is something she feels strongly about: “You can
have 500 people with the same charm, but it means something different to each of them. And then their combination
of charms will be unique, so you won’t find two people with
the same bracelet, or with exactly the same meaning.”
For Krystal, PANDORA is about uniqueness. The
uniqueness of her grandmother, of her daughters, of her
life. And little Bianna already has views on who she is and
what she wants to be. She says: “I would like a horseshoe
charm next, because I’d really like a horse, and one day
I want to be a vet.”
Leaving Boston, the snow is almost gone now.
For most, the remnants of Christmas are melting away
for the last time. But for a precious few, their memories
have been captured and can be treasured for years.
Perhaps even for generations.
You can almost see Nana Millie smiling.
of hope
There’s a bite in the Washington air, reminding you that
this is the air of politicians. All around, the city is peppered with reminders of where this still-young nation
came from; of its ideas and principles.
ook closely and you can also see the cues borrowed
from other civilisations – Greek colonnades, French
avenues. Each is a reminder that, wherever it establishes itself, humanity reflects its origins.
These thoughts persevere through the outskirts of the
city, across the state line into Maryland, named after the
wife of Charles I of England, and to a commuter town that
boasts colonial houses with colonial street names to match.
Inside one of these houses, Sarah Camp sits with her
adoptive mother Nancy and talks of her own origins, of
family and belonging, and of a strange symmetry that has
PANDORA at its heart.
Nancy glows as she unfolds the Camp family history,
and glances with pride at the daughter she adopted as
a baby. As she tells the story, she flicks through a scrapbook of memories dating back to the day she and husband Warner first heard that their application to adopt
had been successful.
2011 ANNUAL magazine
She continues: “In the very last letter, she had sent photographs
of herself and I looked exactly like her. It was so weird.”
Myrna had left contact details but, when Sarah followed them up, the trail had gone cold. Other attempts to
make contact in subsequent years also bore no fruit. Then,
a remarkably 21st century solution emerged.
“I was on Facebook one night, randomly looking around,
and there she was! Still looking exactly like me,” says Sarah.
“So I emailed her and, after a few careful exchanges she
wrote back saying: ‘Yes, I’m the person you are looking for.”
Email contact turned into regular phone calls, regular
text messages and an exchange of gifts on birthdays and
at Christmas. “We’re friends now,” Sarah says of Myrna,
which brings the story almost up to date. Almost.
The connection shared between Sarah, adoptive
mother Nancy, and birth mother Myrna took another
twist one Christmas.
Sarah explains: “Myrna and I were on the phone to each other on Christmas Eve, talking while opening the gifts we had
mailed to each other. I had decided to buy her a PANDORA
bracelet so I could begin a tradition of sending special things
that meant something to the two of us. Then, as I unwrapped
my present, I saw that she had bought me a PANDORA
bracelet too, this one with an ‘angel of hope’ charm.”
The next morning, sitting by the tree with her family,
Sarah unwrapped the last of her gifts from mom Nancy: a
PANDORA bracelet with a ladybug charm. Perfect symmetry. The three, who are forever connected but have never all
met, all made the same choice of gift to express their love.
There is invisible symmetry here too, in the family rituals they observe. On Sarah’s birthday every year, Myrna
takes out the dress that Sarah wore during the two days they
were in the hospital together, and holds it for a few minutes
while she thinks of a daughter elsewhere. Nancy and Warner go out to dinner each year on the anniversary of the date
they received the letter approving them as adoptive parents.
And Sarah wears her PANDORA bracelet always.
Now, her charm collection includes other precious
reminders – her birthstone, a penguin because it’s her favourite animal, an ‘eye’ to remind her of the Mediterranean
sea, and a pineapple – symbol of a warm welcome in some
parts of the US.
Says Nancy: “All of those things are a part of who she is.”
Sarah smiles warmly at Nancy and takes her hand in a precious grip. “I feel that all the things Myrna wanted for me
“We waited a long time,” says Nancy. “Then we got a letter
saying we had been approved. Normally, you can wait up
to a year between approval and having a child placed with
you, but we got a call to say we had a child the same day
as the letter arrived. It was just overwhelming. There was so
much to do. We didn’t sleep the first night from excitement.
The second night we slept from exhaustion.”
She glances down at a page in the family photo album:
“This is the day we met her,” she says. Eyes distant. Nancy
is here, but she is also there, nearly 30 years ago with the
little girl she nicknamed ‘her ladybug’.
The word ‘adopted’ has always been a positive one
in Sarah’s mind. “We were always really open about it,”
she says. “Mom would always say to me: ‘Your birth mother
loves you so much that she wanted a different life than
the one she could give you.”
“In fact,” says Sarah, “I was never really interested
in pursuing what it meant until a few years ago, when we
were discussing genetics in a biology class I was taking.”
Sarah went home from the class and started to ask
questions. Nancy, long prepared for this day, handed over
a binder of documents, containing information dating right
from her and Warner’s first application to adopt.
Sarah takes up the story: “I got to this page which
said: ‘Dear Adoptive Mom and Dad...’ It was a letter from
my birth mother, Myrna. ‘How did you get this?’ I asked.
It turned out that, many years before, she had made contact through the adoption agency to see how I was doing.”
2011 ANNUAL magazine
have been achieved, even though she wasn’t able to communicate her wishes to my parents,” she says. “Myrna wanted me to have siblings, to play music, to have a great father,
to play at the beach. She couldn’t have planned it, but I had
all of those things.” Nancy squeezes Sarah’s hand in return,
love and pride in a single tensing of the muscles.
As we head back into the city the light is dying, but
we manage to catch a glimpse of the Lincoln Memorial,
with old Abe staring out across the National Mall. Although
made of stone, he still seems to be contemplating the big
questions that vex us: Where do we come from, where are
we going? Does understanding our past offer us clues about
our future?
He might try asking Sarah Camp for a few of those
In 2010, PANDORA launched its Facebook fan page. By the end of the
year, more than 150,000 fans had signed up. Today, the number has
grown to over 250,000. In September 2010, PANDORA launched its
Facebook app allowing fans to design their own bracelets and share
them with their Facebook friends. Today, the app has been downloaded over 600,000 times, and altogether PANDORA fans have spent
more than four years building and sharing PANDORA bracelets.
A sparkle
in their
mind’s eye
Looking for the creative element that adds the extra sparkle into PANDORA jewellery, we expected white walls,
egos and creative outbursts. Instead we found something
more interesting – a design studio that spans half the
globe and a group of highly creative but humble people
who are quietly revolutionising the jewellery industry.
he interview will have to wait. Lone Frandsen and
Lisbeth Eno Larsen have just received new samples
from Thailand and there’s a palpable sense of excitement as their eager hands open the box. Carefully packed within are samples of a jewellery collection in
development. The pieces are placed in the palm of the hand
to assess the weight. Fingers and thumb ‘read’ the detailing.
Then they are held up to see how they catch the light, and
observed close up to check for any faults. Then a more
emotional assessment: is it beautiful? Or even, as Lone and
Lisbeth are known to ask: “Is it nice or not nice?”
“We’re a little obsessive,” admits Lisbeth. “But often a little change can make it perfect. And we want it to be perfect.”
This is all part of an ongoing, and rather special,
‘conversation’ that takes place between the designers in
Denmark and the production facility in Thailand. Separated
by more than 8,000 kilometres, they stay in touch via elec38
tronic communications that close the distance and collapse
time zones.
The designers develop pieces as a sketch or 3D model,
which is sent to Thailand where the craftsmen realise their
visions in silver, gold and precious stones. These pieces are
then returned to Denmark for Lisbeth and Lone, and their
designer colleagues Mads Trolle and Lee Antony Gray, to
review. It’s a ‘ping-pong’ creative process that has powered
the development of PANDORA through the years.
All this means that the PANDORA design studio isn’t
a private sanctum but rather a deep connection between
people that crosses geographic barriers and time zones.
“We’re always thinking of the next guy, meaning the person who takes the next step after us,” says Lee. “It impacts
the design process because we’re also thinking about how
it will be produced.”
The interaction between Denmark and Thailand engages both parties into a closely-knit and mutually dependent
team. Together they form a closed loop of creative exploration: as the designers experiment with possibilities, the
production facility innovates new techniques that, in turn,
open up further potential.
“Production is normally the Achilles’ heel,” says Lee.
“It’s often the bit where everything goes wrong. But here
2011 ANNUAL magazine
at PANDORA, our colleagues in Thailand are not only immensely skilled, but also interested in exploring the creative
potential of jewellery making. There are often major technical issues but their ‘can do’ attitude gets them solved. When
you have that dynamic, anything is possible.”
This relationship is the foundation for the quality of the
product. By working closely together, the designers and the
production team are able to create jewellery that is both affordable and extremely well made.
“Mads and I joined PANDORA because we were excited about the idea of democratic design in the jewellery
industry,” says Lee. “We wanted to speak to 100 times more
people. We love it that the company’s products surprise
people in a positive way – the quality of the product is usually beyond their expectations.”
Their first collection, LovePods, for example, was not
only made with 18 carat gold and diamonds, but has a pavé
setting in which gems are ‘paved’ across a piece of jewellery like cobblestones. When paired in a pavé setting, diamonds and gold shimmer and sparkle as light touches each
of the individual stones. It’s an additional layer of quality
that the designer brings.
PANDORA follows the rules of classical jewellery.
It’s not fashion-based. In fact, the very idea of fashion is
something that is disturbing to PANDORA’s designers.
“The jewellery fits with women’s individual lifestyles,”
says Mads. “It’s not a fashion brand in that we don’t dictate.
That’s very important to us. PANDORA doesn’t tell women
what to wear or how to wear it. It’s all about celebrating the
moments in your life.”
The designers want to create pieces that pay tribute to
women as they are. It’s less about ‘becoming’, in the sense
that they put on the jewellery to be transformed into someone else, but more about ‘being’ — to celebrate who they
are right now. For this reason, the company provides a
pallet of choices for women to choose from and also seeks
to design ways for women to make choices that are actually
embedded into the individual pieces.
PANDORA, as a company, is perhaps best known for
the bracelet concept that Lisbeth and Lone have been designing for many years since the first launch in Denmark in
2000. The great opportunities for personal expression made
possible through choices of bracelet and charms, partly
explain its success. “You can always find new ways to wear
it,” says Lone. “You can wear it as a complete collection or
just a single piece if you want to keep it simple.”
The concept is part of the story but the designs that
Lisbeth and Lone create are clearly a major part of its attraction. There’s something about the way that they design that
enables women to attach stories and tie individual charms
to particular moments in their life. You just need to glance
at PANDORA’s Facebook page to see the deep and powerful reaction that women have to their work.
“There are a lot of feelings there,” agrees Lone.
“But people put their stories there themselves. It wasn’t
our intention to do this. It’s something that just happened.
Later, when we noticed this, we found that we could start
to design for it – creating a particular piece that would help
a sparkle in their mind’s eye
women tell a story. But just as often we design something
simply because we like it.”
PANDORA fans might wonder whether their favourite
charms are produced through stories from Lisbeth and Lone’s
own life but it’s more about inspiration pulled from daily life.
“We are always getting inspired and that is a kind of story too,”
explains Lisbeth. “Together we make around 50 new pieces
each year, so we’re always looking for ideas. These might arrive while we’re shopping in town, or come while walking in
a forest or from a little detail that we notice on wallpaper.”
The combination of exquisite design and opportunities
for self-expression by allowing for different combinations
of pieces is something that is apparent in other collections.
For Mads and Lee, who joined the company in 2007,
incorporating these ideas into their designs was a breakthrough moment.
“It was the LovePods collection when we knew that we
had completely absorbed Pandora,” says Lee. “The concept of rings that can be fitted together to create your own
look is clearly something that is born from the PANDORA
design DNA.”
They also see it as part of a Scandinavian design tradition. More normally known for its clean lines and use of
simple materials, Mads and Lee make a case for Pandora
coming from a Danish tradition that talks to the majority of
people, not an elite, and empowers people to make their
own choices. “Consider how LEGO celebrates creativity
and self-expression,” says Lee. “Pandora isn’t all that
different if you really think about it.”
One word that you will hear repeated again and again
by the PANDORA designers is ‘genuine’. It comes up a lot
when talking about the design and production process.
They speak of genuine materials, genuine classical jewellery production techniques. It’s also mentioned frequently
in relation to their connection with the following of loyal
PANDORA customers that they are building. It’s not about
bending people to some brand vision.
“The success of PANDORA has come through word
of mouth,” says Lee. “It wasn’t the result of a big advertising campaign. It wasn’t constructed — it just happened.
So there’s something very real about the customers’ reaction
to PANDORA. And that affects our work. We feel that the
products that we’ve made here are more genuine than the
ones we have made before. They’re just more grounded.”
There is also something very genuine about the way
that the designers behave. As a team they are not subject
to the airs and graces that you might associate with the
design profession. This isn’t a team who behave like rock
stars. On the contrary, they are very humble about their
achievements despite inarguably being among the most
successful jewellery designers in the world right now.
And they are fascinated with how PANDORA is making
jewellery democratic. Simply put, it’s more about the customers and less about them as designers. “Normally you
would design with the brand in mind and then encourage
people to join with that vision,” says Mads. “But when we
design jewellery at PANDORA we have the customer in
mind. And that’s a big difference.”
To Russia
With Love
Just ‘two years old’, and PANDORA is already being warmly embraced by women in Eastern Europe and Russia.
It’s a kind of love at first sight that speaks to that special
something in PANDORA. We met with PANDORA’s own
Peter Mark in Warsaw — the regional headquarters for
the Eastern European region and the nerve centre for the
company’s expansion in Russia and Ukraine – to find out
the secret of their success.
he half light of a Polish winter. A snow-grey day
in Warsaw. A stillness on the streets. Yet inside
this Starbucks clone, Coffee Heaven, it’s all go.
Customers try to peer through steamed-up windows to the frost-dusted cobblestones, and Managing Director of PANDORA Central Eastern Europe, Peter Mark,
needs to raise his voice above the ‘whack-thunk-hiss’ of
the espresso machine. He’s back where it started.
For several months Peter and two management colleagues used the cafe as an impromptu office – planning
PANDORA’s move into Poland and then the rest of Eastern
Europe. “We drank at lot of coffee,” Peter laughs. “Eventually the owner took pity on us and offered some space
upstairs.” He grins: “It’s funny to be back.”
As he stirs his latte, he’s pulled back to the early days
of PANDORA and recalls how fast customers embraced
the brand in the region. After two years, PANDORA is
well established in Poland. With great determination, and
no doubt helped by large doses of caffeine, the first store
opened while Peter and the team were still without an
office back in May 2009. More followed. Now there is
a series of glittering concept stores in the capital and the
major cities of Poland. A move into Ukraine and other
Eastern European markets soon followed and now attention
is focused on Russia.
Danish by origin, Peter has great respect for local
knowledge and understanding even though he has lived
and worked in Eastern Europe for 17 years. “We always
2011 ANNUAL magazine
to russia with love
And we’re telling women that they can value themselves.
This isn’t the way that things have been done in Russia.”
Yet Peter believes that the time is right for PANDORA
because Russian women no longer need to display brand
names ostentatiously. A period of stability and a growing
middle class means that Russian women don’t need others
to tell them that they are worthwhile. They know it.
PANDORA brings a quality and luxury that was impossible
before. It can do what other jewellery companies can’t: make
exquisite design affordable and part of a woman’s everyday life.
“We think that PANDORA’s move into Russia is important
and says a lot about the way that the country is developing and
what Russian women are feeling. There’s a growing self-confidence. Russian women don’t need to buy an item because of
the brand or just because it is expensive. They are beyond that.
They can now choose what connects with them emotionally.”
With six concept stores already opened in Moscow and
St Petersburg in 2010, Peter can already gauge whether the
time was right for PANDORA in Russia.
“We’ve had a very strong reaction to PANDORA.
Women have embraced it. They appreciate how the pieces
can be integrated into their lives and that they can choose
how to wear it. PANDORA doesn’t dictate but rather lets
women express and celebrate themselves. It’s a confidence
that they know others will notice.”
work with a local partner but we’re very choosy. It can take
a long time to find the right person because they need to
understand PANDORA and what it means to people.”
“Initially we had trouble explaining PANDORA to business people in the region. It’s not the kind of company that
they are used to here. The kind of relationship that we have
with our customers and the obsession with design and quality. It was a new thing.”
Most potential business partners didn’t get it. They had
nothing to relate PANDORA to and they had seen many jewellery companies try to move into the region and fail.“‘Forget it’
was the response that came again and again. People just didn’t
understand that you could run a business this way.”
The problem, Peter decided, was that the potential partners missed the special connection that women have with
PANDORA. The solution came about quite by accident – one
of those special moments that PANDORA seems to generate.
“I was in a meeting with a potential partner who was
perfect. But he just didn’t understand that there was something magical about PANDORA. I’d been trying to explain
it and placed some jewellery on his desk. Then the man’s
assistant came into the room and I noticed that her eyes
lingered on the jewellery. It spoke to her.”
Peter took a risk and said: “Look, this isn’t something
that men can understand. The only way you’ll ever understand PANDORA is through women, so let the women in
your company decide.”
They agreed to leave the office after asking four
women working in the company to review the jewellery
and say if they thought that PANDORA was something for
Eastern Europe.
“Returning a few hours later, the room contained not four
women but 12. All were talking, laughing, making bracelets and exchanging charms. The deal was done. And I
learnt something that day: PANDORA speaks for itself.
Women understand the quality and appreciate the design.
Men don’t understand it so they should listen.” It’s the way
that Peter now explains PANDORA whenever he gets the
chance: “I don’t try to ‘sell’ the brand but rather get out
of the way and let the women decide.”
The team is now seeking to use the same winning
strategy in Russia. But, if anything, finding the right partner
was even harder.
“We spoke with 81 potential partners before we found
the right person. Really. 81! Frankly, it was exhausting.
My feet ached from rushing from one meeting to the next.
I’ve never felt so tired and lonely, but we decided to do this
right or not do it at all.”
It took a year but eventually Peter found Maxim Nogotkov. “He’s nothing like what some people might expect a
Russian businessman to be like. Energetic and still in his
30s, Maxim only gets involved in projects if they are personally exciting or bring something special to Russia.”
And PANDORA is, in many ways, a new kind of business in Russia. The country is well known for being in love
with brand labels and catering to the hyper-rich that emerged
from the fall of communism. It’s less known that most people
have to make do with cheaper, poor quality goods.
“There’s nothing in the middle. You can’t get good value,
high quality and great design. There are no companies like
PANDORA in Russia. We’re not just opening a business but
creating an entirely new segment — quality for all women.
2011 ANNUAL magazine
“Pandora doesn’t dictate but rather lets
women express and celebrate themselves. It’s a
confidence that they know others will notice.”
With the concept proven in Moscow and St Petersburg,
PANDORA’s gradual expansion is expected to include other
major Russian cities with a population of 1 million or more.
That’s about 20 cities in Russia.
The rapid expansion in Eastern Europe raises some questions for PANDORA. Will the company be able to maintain
its special connection with women? How can it grow without
changing into something that the customer doesn’t recognise?
“We have to stay true to ourselves. There’s something
special about PANDORA and we have to keep this feeling.
But we shouldn’t try to define it too much. As soon as you
put things in a box they lose their magic. PANDORA is an
idea that a few people believed in and women – who can
sense what’s genuine and what’s fake – connected with.
“If you’re looking for the heart of the company, then you
should pay attention to what women feel about PANDORA.
to russia with love
It’s a unique connection that enables women to express a
thought or a feeling or recall a special moment.”
To maintain this connection, Peter and his colleagues
are determined that PANDORA keeps being an enabler of
women and their personal stories.
“We don’t tell women who these pieces are for or how
they should be worn. They decide which pieces to buy, how
to combine the charms and the rings and how they want to
wear them. We just provide the elements and let women write
their own stories. If we can help women do that in a very personal way, then PANDORA will continue to be a success.”
Staying true to the original spirit of PANDORA and
having a little humility and a lot of respect is powering the
growth of PANDORA in the region.
“As long as PANDORA continues to listen to the
women who buy our products, we’ll be fine. We’re not out to
change the essentials of what we do. But we do want to bring
PANDORA to women in Russia and elsewhere. Honestly,
they deserve it. Women here are amazing and should have
the same access to the quality and value that PANDORA
offers as women elsewhere in the world.”
Time to go. Kiev is calling and there’s much to do.
Including the preparations for his forthcoming move to
Hamburg where he, from April 2011, will take up a new,
combined position as Managing Director of PANDORA’s
operations in Central Western Europe as well.
As Peter takes a last look around his own particular bit
of coffee heaven and home-from-home for many months,
his eyes fall to a PANDORA bag on a nearby table. A quick
grin: “You didn’t put that there, did you?”
In 2010, under the leadership of PANDORA Central Eastern Europe,
PANDORA entered into a Master Distribution and Franchise Agreement for Russia. By the end of the year, six PANDORA concept stores
had been opened in Moscow and St Petersburg. Later, the roll-out in
Russia is expected to also include other major regional cities with a
population of 1 million or more.
into Italy
With PANDORA having just opened for business in Italy,
we get an insight into the challenges and opportunities
of the market with top Italian fashion editor Barbara
Rodeschini who takes us on a tour of the country’s design
and fashion epicentre – Milan. Watched by billboard
models who smile down like angels, we traverse the city’s
grand plazas and fall a little in love with its charm, glamour and cold winter light.
alking through Milan on a chilly January day is
like swimming in the ocean as you stride from
sun-warmed spots to colder, shadow-cloaked
spaces. Scarves wrap sunlit faces and breath
steams on the mobile phones that Italians keep clasped to their
heads. We’re hurrying to keep up with Barbara Rodeschini as
she strides past the powerhouses of design and fashion.
A well-known Italian fashion editor, Barbara graciously
found the time between men’s fashion week in Milan and
the Barcelona shows to help us explore the city and provide
insights into the country that PANDORA has only recently
entered. It’s a move that the company is excited about
because of the opportunities in Italy and also its influence
around the world.
“Italy has a strong heritage in jewellery, since the
Romans,” explains Barbara. “I believe that this DNA is one
of the reasons for Italian market leadership in Europe. Italy
is also a top production centre and this means that many
of the top brands in the world are based here. These two
factors, plus the fact that Italians love precious things and
believe in investing in commodities, boost the market.”
In itself, Italy is the biggest market in Europe for fine
jewellery, valued at more than € 5.5 billion. Yet it also acts
as an antenna for ideas that are broadcast to the world via
catwalks and magazine spreads. Italy matters because the
country is a trendsetter for design — including jewellery.
And it’s here in Milan, the design and fashion epicentre,
that PANDORA has set up its base of operations.
2011 ANNUAL magazine
steps into italy
Italy acts as an antenna for design
and fashion ideas that are broadcast to the
world via catwalks and magazine spreads.
“It’s pretty hard not to be stylish in Italy - it’s endemic,”
says Barbara. “I grew up with it and remember the clothes
and style of my mother in the 1970s. Amazing. But for my
job, you must be very committed and study a lot. Brands
have a long heritage here and you’re expected to know
them in detail.”
Used to having a front row seat at fashion shows
(though she calls the endless battle for this position ‘a
nonsense’), Barbara has a practiced eye and understands
the details and codes of design. “I can tell everything about
you from what you’re wearing!” she laughs. “But I won’t
say!” For an insider’s view of the rarefied world of Italian
design, we couldn’t have a better guide.
From Rinascente, the landmark department store at
Piazza Duomo in the very centre of Milan, Barbara leads us
with dizzying turns through the city. We wander through the
Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle, move on to catch a glimpse of
Castello Sforza, and then speed through the buzzing commercial streets of Corso Magenta and Corso Vercelli. Everywhere, we’re presented with world-class design and style.
A city in which playful creativity is serious business,
Milan is charged with contrasts. It’s at times dark and
brooding with its monumental architecture and ancient
gargoyles that stare or scowl down on us. And then we
turn a corner and step into a river of low winter sunshine.
We’re bathed again in exuberant pink light and have a few
seconds to re-experience the magical moment before Barbara pulls us forward to see more.
2011 ANNUAL magazine
Like the Danish design tradition that PANDORA was born
from, Italian design is a brand in itself. With its long history
of both creating objects of beauty, Italian design is recognised around the world. It’s come to stand for quality, for
colour and a certain hard-to-define flair that adds a whimsical touch to modernism. So whether it is a piece of furniture, textiles, clothes or a car, Italians continue to create
and compete with the best in the field. And it’s been always
this way. It’s an obvious cliché but, if PANDORA can make
it here, it can make it anywhere.
We’re outside a major department store on Corso Vercelli, the end of our tour. It’s a prearranged magical moment
— top Italian fashion writer meets PANDORA at a branded
shop-in-shop. What will she make of the jewellery? Barbara
certainly has her finger on the country’s jewellery tastes:
“Gold appeals to Italians and rings are always popular.
Right now, solitaire rings are admired. And charms of
course,” she laughs. “Charms are everywhere on wrists,
on bags and even on phones!”
This is good news for PANDORA of course, but perhaps, in fashion-driven Milan, charms could be a passing
trend or a fad? Ask her whether she feels that they will disappear, she’ll glance down at her own bracelet, pause for a
second, and say: “I don’t think so. When you wear a charm
bracelet it’s like having a friend with you. It’s a series of stories. Part of you perhaps.”
We enter the store to review the full range of PANDORA
products — the rings, pendants, earrings and yes, of course,
pandora steps into italy
the bracelets too. Barbara examines the work with a practiced eye. Ask her what she makes of it and she simply says,
“It’s cool. It’s well made.” Then, forever the journalist, she is
quickly quizzing one of the sales assistants. She elicits that
the staff are excitedly awaiting the new pieces that celebrate
Valentine’s Day.
As Barbara inspects a Murano glass charm, the staff
members explain that initial sales have been good. In fact,
the first stores were a godsend to PANDORA fans in Milan.
There were already a few women who had discovered the
brand and now no longer had to leave the country to get
it. Many, the staff report, seem to have a connection with
Northern Europe – either through their work or their partner
and so were introduced to that special PANDORA quality
a little earlier than their compatriots.
The initial positive reception seems to be broadening
fast as Italians get to know the brand. There’s certainly the
potential for a company like PANDORA, Barbara believes:
“In Italy there are exclusive brands for select clientele and
then younger people and students are catered for at the other end of the market. But there’s very little in the middle.”
For Barbara, this tends to be the rule in Italy with few companies catering to the needs of most women and providing
quality they want at prices they can afford. “PANDORA will
be a perfect fit in the middle-to-high part of the market,” she
believes. “In Italy there’s a lack of brands in this area.”
The Italians, and the Milanese in particular, are a highly
sophisticated design audience. Like Barbara, they tend to
understand the codes of fashion and have both an appreciation of what’s happening now and also an admiration for
aspects of design that are more lasting. It’s still early days
but, with the company’s ability to combine great design
with craftsman-derived quality at affordable prices, the
signs are there for a ‘dolce vita’ for PANDORA in Italy.
It’s appropriate then that, as we step back out on the
chilly street, we get another wave of that special Milanese
light. The beautiful life always feels close in Milan. So, before Barbara leaves us where we started at Piazza Duomo,
there’s just time for a few more moments together in this
magical city.
In July 2010, PANDORA entered the Italian market, establishing a
presence in Europe’s largest market for fine jewellery. Based in Milan,
a team of sales representatives and visual merchandisers cover the
Italian market. By the end of 2010, PANDORA jewellery was being
sold through over 450 points of sale across Italy.
2011 ANNUAL magazine
Concept and Editing Corporate Communications Concept and Writing Mark Stevens ( and Mark Watkins (
Photography Ture Andersen ( and Anne Mie Dreves ( Design and Art Direction Pleks ( © PANDORA 2011
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