By Michelle Graff
Noot Seear is the face of Alor’s new advertising campaign, which is promoting the return of the company selling “Alor” jewelry. Seear has walked the runways for a number of designers, been the face of two fragrances and had a role in the Tw
San Diego--Alor will no longer sell jewelry under the Charriol brand in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean, as the two companies remain engaged in a legal battle over international distribution and Alor returns to selling jewelry under its own brand.

Geneva-based Philippe Charriol International Ltd., or PCI, filed a lawsuit against Alor in California federal court in May 2013.

The extensive complaint alleges, among other things, that San Diego-based Alor is guilty of trademark infringement for selling Charriol “knock-off jewelry” in Australia and that Alor traded upon the “fame, goodwill, name and reputation” of the Charriol brand to build its own name and brand around the world.

“The relationship between A’lor and PCI has been deteriorating for years, caused particularly by A’lor’s plan to design, develop, and implement a competing line of jewelry in the territory and outside the territory,” court papers state.  The “territory” refers to the U.S. and Canadian markets, the markets covered in the jewelry distribution agreement signed between PCI and Alor.

In July 2013, Alor fired back with a counterclaim, denying Charriol’s charges.

It accused PCI, along with Philippe Charriol himself, Ludovic Lesur and Kronos America LLC, of breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets and alleged that PCI was the one selling designs that infringed upon Alor’s trade dress and copyrights. In court documents, Alor stated that it first publicly displayed its nautical cable motif jewelry in the early 1980s, “prior to any other person or entity doing so.”

“PCI has engaged in a pattern and practice of diverting jewelry sales to PCI and away from Alor, in violation of copyright laws, trade dress laws and PCI’s contractual obligations to Alor,” court documents state.

As the lawsuit makes its way through the court system, Alor is moving forward with a re-branding, of sorts. In an announcement issued Feb. 17, Alor said it was “making a bold decision in 2014, returning to its roots” by reverting to its parent company brand name.

Established in 1979, Alor designed, created and manufactured stainless steel cable, 18-karat gold and diamond jewelry sold as “Alor.” In 1992, the company began its relationship with PCI and “re-branded” as Charriol. 

In an interview with National Jeweler Wednesday, Alor declined to comment on the litigation. Regarding the ending of their relationship with PCI, Jack Zemer, who co-founded Alor with wife Sandy in 1979, only said that, “We wanted to stay on our core values and we didn’t see that their direction is lined up with our direction.”

Over the next few months, retailers in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean that carry Charriol will just sell through their existing inventory while Alor begins the process of providing them with Alor jewelry--which is already being sold in more than two dozen independents in Australia--as well as Alor-branded packaging, support materials and displays.

The Alor jewelry will join the company’s line of self-branded Swiss watches, which it debuted at Couture in 2013.

The transition with existing retailers is scheduled to take place through April, while the brand’s official re-launch is set for the Couture show in Las Vegas.

Alor Principal Ori Zemer, son of Jack and Sandy, adds that all of their current retailers already have been told in person by a Zemer family member about the transition. (Ori is the “or” in Alor while his brother Tal is the “Al.”)

“We wanted to make sure that our customers understand that the Zemer family is still behind everything that has been done since 1979,” he said.

In April, Alor will debut a new national print advertising campaign featuring model Noot Seear and photographed by Justin Coit, whose credits include working with well-known stylist Rachel Zoe. The lifestyle campaign will appear in Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Town & Country, Elle Canada, all Niche Media publications and other regional fashion media.

“We are very excited about this transition and we’ve had great responses from all our retailers,” Tal Zemer said.

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