Looking ahead to its second half-century (and introducing a third generation), Jeremy Morris is overseeing a period of growth at the namesake jeweler of his father David Morris. Recently,Elite Traveler Editor-in-Chief Doug Gollan paid a visit to the company’s New Bond Street flagship boutique to catch up with the second-generation jeweler.
ET: Can you tell us about the company history?
Jeremy Morris: We are 50 years old this year. My father started in 1951 as a bench jeweler, and in 1969 he opened our first showroom. In the 1970s we opened in Harrod’s and then expanded with three or four hotel stores. I started at the bench making jewelry. Then I worked on wholesale distribution mainly to keep some space between me and my father. About 10 years ago I took over running the company.
ET: What makes David Morris different?
Jeremy Morris: We’re better. My eye is the eye I inherited from my father. I trained in Parisian workshops that made jewelry for the top houses. Our jewelry is very high end but quirky. If you look at our adverts we are much more fashion. Our bracelets and necklaces sit properly. I don’t want to see any metal. It’s got to be comfortable, funky and fashionable. We’re not attempting to be purely a diamond dealer. Our jewelry is stylish and ornate. We have fabulous service and it’s really about coming into the store.
ET: Where do you have boutiques now?
Jeremy Morris: We’re in Moscow, Dubai, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and we opened less than a year ago at The Peninsula in Hong Kong.
ET: Are you planning any more openings?
Jeremy Morris: We’re going to open in Abu Dhabi next year. As you can tell my focus is to the East.
ET: Were you impacted by the recession?
Jeremy Morris: We bounced back pretty quickly. The biggest change is the value of all the precious stones have gone up. Some things have doubled. It’s a portable asset and people are happy to put a percentage of their wealth into high jewelry.
ET: What inspires you to design?
Jeremy Morris: The stones. Sometimes I sit with a parcel of stones for six months. It’s foolhardy to manufacture if it doesn’t feel right. Sometimes I sit down and 30 seconds later I’m sketching and I get it right then.
ET: Any favorite hotels?
Jeremy Morris: The Peninsula in Hong Kong, naturally, and The Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok. However my preference is boutique hotels over the big corporate hotels.
ET: Any interests outside business?
Jeremy Morris: I’m very interested in Japanese contemporary art. We’ve been renovating a house for the last two year so I am especially interested in mid-century furniture.
ET: How about vacation travel?
Jeremy Morris: I like skiing in Zermatt. I just spent a month in Mykonos. It’s grueling coming back.
ET: Did the Olympics impact business?
Jeremy Morris: For the Olympics, there was really no difference. We had one or two clients in because of the Olympics but they coming here every month anyway.
ET: How do you entice clients?
Jeremy Morris: I think once you come in and handle the jewelry. We’re not the world’s best-known jewelry brand but when they sit down and handle the jewelry it starts. Eighty to 90 percent of our customers are repeat or referrals. It all starts with customer service.
ET: Is there a special profile of your typical customer?
Jeremy Morris: You have to be an out of the box thinker to be attracted to us. If you’re an individual thinker and if you’re interested in fashion, we are a bit of a trendsetter. Every week there is something new. I’m constantly inventing. A lot of our new items are sold out the week after we put them out.
ET: Where do you see David Morris in the next five or 10 years?
Jeremy Morris: I’d like to have a shop in Mainland China, Paris and Monaco. For me, it’s maybe eight or 10 stores. I want each store to have a great collection of jewelry with amazing, unique pieces. I don’t want people to come in and you say, “oh, (that piece) is in Dubai this week.” I want to be able to have fantastic jewelry in each location.
ET: And what about the next generation?
Jeremy Morris: My daughter Phoebe is the third generation. She is going to New York in October to GIA (Gemological Institute of America). We have a book coming out on the first 50 years of David Morris and that has been her current project. Maybe next will be the bench when she comes back from America.