Luxury Chocolate

 

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Ten years ago, when I worked in one of the Zurich financial companies, my colleague from the London office, asked me to buy her some chocolates, knowing that I was visiting London shortly. So, without thinking twice, I went to the nearest supermarket and bought her a box of truffles made by one large Swiss factory. In London, I gave the box to my colleague, but when she saw what I had brought her, she could not hide her disappointment. What was my mistake then?

The colleague explained, that these types of chocolates can be easily bought in London. But the luxurious chocolate truffles with a fine champagne filling and made by hand, can only be purchased in Switzerland. That was the time when I learned that there is another chocolate category – a luxury chocolate.

How different is it from the regular chocolate? Why some chocolate bars can cost one Swiss Frank and the other ten? Why not to have a look at the Swiss chocolate from the perspective of the luxury sector.

Let’s start with the fact that the best and organic raw material is a guarantee of the quality of any final product. This rule applies to all manufacturers of luxury goods. To make expensive handbags, the most delicate skin is used, to make the exceptional jewelry – diamonds with the best cut, color and carat, and to make haut couture dresses – only natural fabrics are used. In order to make the best flavored chocolate, one needs selected cocoa-beans of different varieties. There are specialists, who do the “hunting” for quality cocoa-beans crops in West Africa. As an aside, the world price of this raw material are constantly rising and you can track the prices on commodity exchanges in New York and London.

If you walk along the main streets of Geneva and Zurich, on your way you will meet a lot of small shops selling chocolate. Visit one of these and ask a curiosity question about the process of making chocolate. In most cases, the owners will gladly show you so-called “lab”, because they are sure that after you visit you will buy a box of chocolates. They will be proud to describe the artisanal process of making chocolate – emphasizing the handmade part of it. The fact is that the true luxury is a product made by hand and in small batches.

It should be noted that the Chinese Traditional Medicine teaches us to treat food as a medicament. In this they are guided by the principle that each product has its own energy, or chi. Not surprisingly that in the XVIII century chocolate was considered a medicament. But, unfortunately, today major chocolate manufacturers replace 5% of cocoa butter with other fats, which affects the taste and quality of chocolate. So do not forget that the small Swiss producers use only natural ingredients and they are indignant at the EU’s decision to permit this replacement.

Each of the Swiss chocolate brands that manufacture chocolate by hand has its own unique features. One is known for its hot chocolate, the other one for its fine taste collections featuring aromas of jasmine, ylang-ylang and spices … But they all share one secret. The secret is not hard to guess, when watching how carefully the owner of the chocolate boutique wraps every piece of chocolate and puts them in orderly rows in a golden paper box. Or when the famous French chef Thierry Marx was asked about the secret of his phenomenal success, he replied that his secret is simple: he cooks with love.

So next time you buy a chocolate, ask yourself three questions: if the chocolate is made of the best cocoa-beans, made by hand and made with love? And if the answer to all three questions is yes, then indulge yourself by purchasing this luxurious chocolate.

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the Luxury and Finance Observer – March 2013 issue

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This month’s issue of the Luxury and Finance Observer in Russian is about the Swiss luxury chocolate…

…and I translated in into English for my next post…

Enjoy!

 

 

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Luxury cars in Geneva Motor Show 2013

“Russia has two gravest ills: fools and roads” according to Nikolai Gogol, the classic Russian novelist.

But roads do not seem to stop Russians from driving beautiful cars. Russians appreciate powerful vehicles like Rolls-Royce, Ferrary, Lamborgini and Aston Martin to demonstrate their financial success.

All brands unveiled new models at the 83rd International Motor Show in Geneva.

Rolls-Royce its Wraith, Ferrari its La Ferrari, Lamborgini the Veneno and Aston Martin its Centenary Edition Vanquish.

Here is a reportage:

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This week is Geneva International Motor Show!

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Since 1971 the Russian AutoVaz was exposing its cars here. But this year no one Russian car…

Why? As per Vedomosti, this year it will be represented by its partner, Renaut-Nissan alliance.

for more see: www.salon-auto.ch

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Russia: fifth largest economy in 2016

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Interesting analysis by Media Eghbal:

“Russia will become the world’s fifth largest economy in 2016 in PPP terms, driven by its energy sector, as one of the top oil and natural gas producers worldwide. It also offers potential in its rapidly expanding consumer market, which Euromonitor forecasts will be the ninth largest globally in real terms in 2020. Its accession to the World Trade Organisation in August 2012 further cements its integration into the global economy. The lack of economic diversification and modernisation remain key long-term challenges with government policy aiming to tackle this, for example, by investing in the Skolkovo Innovation Centre Project, Russia’s equivalent to Silicon Valley. Corruption, state control and bureaucracy also hamper the business environment in Russia. Like elsewhere in Eastern Europe, the Russian working-age population is in decline (-4.5% in 2013-2020) despite a short-term baby boom, which will pose a demographic challenge to sustaining non-oil economic growth. “

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the Luxury and Finance Observer – February 2013 issue

The new issue of the Luxury and Finance Observer is a bit of a surprise for our Russian readers. The Swiss magazine “Russian Switzerland” or “Русская Швейцария”, published my article “The heritage of Luxury” in the March 2013 issue, dedicated to fashion. All living in Switzerland please go to the kiosk and get the latest issue of the magazine! Please enjoy!

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Luxury is an asset or Swiss luxury world

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Swiss luxury watch-making sector speaks of excellence, innovation and tradition.

If we add an experience to these essential ingredients of the luxury world, then last week was rich of luxury watch experience. Geneva was a host to two watch events: Geneva Time Exhibition (GTE) and SIHH Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie Geneve.

GTE is the exhibition of 34 independent watch makers, whereas SIHH shows 16 brands associated with the Richemont group. By the way, the next experience for luxury watch lovers is on 25th of April, at the BaselWorld 2013!

GTE

In visiting GTE, my focus was Russia and I saw quite well known and sizable brands such as Frederique Constant and Alpina. Then, totally restyled Jordi watches, which became an icon for Russian travelers (when I first came to Switzerland I remember Jordi watches with cow-embroidered bracelets…)

I spoke with Mr. Martin Braun about his latest creations and his brand Antoine Martin, which is famous in Moscow. Julien Coudray impressed me with a collection piece (15/15) entirely made of platinum. Quintig is known in St. Petersburg for its transparent creations.

I had a pleasure to see some other exciting and ultra exclusive watch makers such as Cabestan, Hautlence, Clerc, Laurent Ferrier, Artya, De Monaco, H. Moser and Speake-Marin. The majority of these brands sell less than hundred pieces a year, according to Tribune de Geneve. Have a look at the full list of brands at GTE.

 

SIHH

SIHH is a bigger show with famous names and if you were there you would have been impressed by the beauty of each brand’s “boutique”. I experienced the parisian atmosphere full of butterflies at Van Cliff and Arples and the modern art spirit at Mont Blanc. Here are the names of all participating brands: SIHH

 

I believe that for all watch makers, independent or not, one thing is true: in their quest for excellence they all contribute to the perpetuation of the ancient tradition and savoir-faire.

Today I have read an enriching interview with Franco Cologni in the HH Mag (by Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva) and I would like to end this post with his beautiful words, giving us another insight of the definition of luxury and the link between Luxury and Finance:

Emile: So, we can say that there can be excellence
without luxury, but there can be no luxury without excellence?

Franco Cologni: Of course! In Milan a good cup of coffee costs one euro: it’s excellent, but it’s not a luxury. However, luxury without true excellence in materials, manufacturing and communication is just a marketing ploy. Luxury is an asset, a good, and it is good because it is ethical, evolved, and stimulates research and imagination. However, luxury is also an art: or if you wish, it is a catalyzer of arts, of all the arts and crafts necessary to create an object of luxury. It is a demanding god that exploits the fascination of all the muses.

Emile: So, does understanding luxury as an asset make it understandable in every part of the world? And does understanding it as an art truly renew the values of inspiration and originality?

Franco Cologni: Certainly: luxury is not pay & display. Luxury is a cultural heritage. Think of how many craftsmen, designers and creative people work to create luxury goods. Goods that last, that communicate, that increase in value over time. Forget about the word that has been used and abused, and concentrate on the real thing: the cultural asset. It’s an “asset” because it is rich in values, including intrinsic ones, and it’s “cultural” because it is created, sold and acquired through an exchange of know-how and passion that only couture can make truly efficient.

 

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the Luxury and Finance Observer – January 2013 issue

Happy to announce the new issue of the Luxury and Finance Observer in Russian language. This issue is called Luxury and Internet, covering the latest Digital Day by CREA Geneve and contemplating of how to transmit emotions on the internet…

https://luxuryandfinance.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/the-luxury-and-finance-observer-issue-7-january-2013.pdf

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Will wealthy Europeans follow Gerard Depardieu to Russia?

Depardieu

If French luxury companies complain about high customs taxes when entering the Russian market, there is one French who likes Russia’s 13% flat income tax – Mr. Gerard Depardieu, “That Russian Movie Star”.

I’ve read in today’s The New York Times that Mr. Putin granted him Russian citizenship in honor of his cultural achievements.

The New York Times questions though this rare event: “It seemed likely, however, that Mr. Putin also saw a poetic opportunity in the chance for Russia, long known for losing wealthy citizens to the West, to claim one in return.”

One Russian bank seems to have known it in advance! When I was in St. Petersburg few month ago, I was surprised to see Depardieu’s smiling face on the advertisment of BANK SOVETSKIY. Depardieu is holding two thumbs up and the ad says “Cash loan today”.

Why Depardieu agreed? On bank’s website he explains that he “likes Russia and the approach of Russian people, always with soul, always sincere. I love Russia”. Today on the French TV he added that he feels Russian and he is going to learn the Russian language. 

So did the sublime strategy of Mr. Putin work out? And is it likely that from today Russian banks are going to welcome more clients from abroad?

As Huffingtonpost quotes a Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin’s  Twitter: “The distinctiveness of our tax system is poorly known about in the West. When they know about it, we can expect a massive migration of rich Europeans to Russia”…

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2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Click here to see the complete report.

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