Juan Miguel Albarracín Durán is the president and CEO of Grupo Durán, a jewelry company founded by his great-grandfather over 135 years ago.
Our company was founded in 1886 by my great-grandfather Pedro Durán Morales, a silversmith by profession. In 1899, he was named an official supplier to Spain’s royal family, a significant milestone at the time to garner renown as a quality brand, gain access to Spanish nobility, and build the firm’s clientele.
He was undoubtedly a man ahead of his time, with a deep-rooted sense of corporate social responsibility. In 1904, he created his own benefit society to protect the factory workers and employees, which operated for nearly 60 years until the introduction of Spain’s Social Security system in 1963.
My great-grandfather was a silversmith by profession and a man ahead of his time, known for his deep-rooted sense of corporate social responsibility.
Following his death, his son Pedro Durán Rey further developed the business. My grandfather’s life was spent among coffee sets, silver cutlery, candlesticks and 10 children, and marked by an armed conflict: the Spanish Civil War.
My grandfather re-opened the business after the war ended. Even though they had no orders, he hired back all of his employees, a decision that fostered morale and trust. The team immediately got to work, preparing the factory for future orders and banding together to accelerate the company’s recovery.
The business expanded substantially under the leadership of the third generation, which oversaw the launch of Pedro Durán’s distinctive “signed silver” and the construction of a new 13,000-meter factory, equipped with leading-edge technology. They also extended the company’s global footprint, with exports to 55 countries.
My earliest memories
On Saturdays, my uncle Santiago used to take my cousins and me to visit the silverware factory, where technicians from different areas taught us how to create pieces and solder pitchers and candlesticks.
With silver running through our veins, we gained a solid understanding of the collection and manufacturing processes behind it.
These early experiences and our hands-on contact with silver and manufacturing equipment forever connected us to the business. With silver running through our veins, we gained a solid understanding of the entire collection and the manufacturing processes behind it.
We would later meet as employees in different areas of the company, with up to 12 cousins at one point. This would be unimaginable today, but it was how successions were handled in the past.
My start in the family business
I got my start in the business when I was 21 and was charged with developing a new area: “Chinese artisanship exhibitions.” Three months after joining and under my uncle Roberto’s wing, I found myself in China, visiting Hong Kong, Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and Guangzhou to buy porcelain, rugs, carved wood, coral and ivory, and start forging a network of connections and relationships.
This was a tremendous learning journey that opened doors for me to take part in international jewelry, watchmaking and decoration fairs. Over the years, I’ve gained a frontline view of the retail universe outside Spain, the luxury space and the world’s most coveted firms.
Leaving a legacy for future generations
Our values as a company are sometimes intangible, yet always very present: a clear alignment toward art and culture, design, and luxury; a deep appreciation for long-lasting and high-quality objects; and, of course, tradition.
The business has been built on respect for our suppliers, which are long-standing collaborators, and a positive rapport and regard for our employees. We do our best to promote their ongoing development and commitment in order to retain their talent.
It is essential to preserve the firm’s DNA to teach future generations about its roots and enhance their pride of belonging.
Preserving the firm’s DNA for future generations is essential to teach them about its roots and enhance their pride of belonging. With this aim, I approached the Board of Directors around 1995 about writing a book on the company’s history, business family, products, design and evolution over its first century of life.
The Board approved the project three years later. Published in 1998, Pedro Durán: 112 Years Designing Pieces of Silver and Jewellery, 1886-1998 is the culmination of 17 months of research and the compilation of photographs, documentation, parts and designs from the last century. Nobel Prize Laureate Camilo José Cela wrote the prologue of the book, which has been edited in Spanish, German, English and Portuguese.
The family organizational chart and protocol
Today, the company is led by the third and fourth generations, whose greatest challenge is not settling for what we have been given: we have to constantly grow and modernize the business to stay at the forefront and nurture the organization as something alive and ever-evolving.
A little over 10 years ago, we collaborated with external consultants to create the current organizational chart, which has worked very effectively. With this structure, we benefit from the generosity and long-term vision of the outgoing generation, who continue to lend a hand in the company’s management during the initial stages and later on, as members of the Board of Directors.
At present, Grupo Durán comprises four family lineages. We all agree that changes need to be made well in advance, which is why we worked with a law firm to help us develop a family protocol.
We all agree that changes need to be made well in advance, which is why developed a family protocol. It has been especially useful for successions to the Board of Directors.
This framework has been especially useful in successions to the Board of Directors, which includes two family members per lineage: one from the third and one from the fourth generations. In their absence, they are replaced by another member from the same family.
In the sales area, we carried out an in-depth study of the market, industry and each Grupo Durán division—Pedro Durán silverware, Durán Art & Auctions and Durán Jewelers—to identify their potential growth and development capabilities and formulate a truly robust business plan.
The process involved the entire management team and helped us enhance our decision-making processes, present our projects, and continue growing as business leaders.
The future of Grupo Durán
Over the years, we have diversified our business, which today includes four main pillars: Pedro Durán, Durán Jewelers, Durán Art & Auctions and Durán Exquse, a jewelry line designed for a younger audience.
We want to grow but must do it well. As specialists in unique and high-value items that maintain their timeless beauty, we aspire to grow the business organically and through carefully chosen and qualitative projects.
I’m extremely proud of our history, yet always looking ahead with an eye on innovation. Our challenge is to continue creating imaginative and innovative offerings that appeal to consumers and staying ahead of the curve since we’re living in a time of rapid and constant change.