A real gem in the jewellery industry

(FILE)                   

 
 

His famous black diamond designs are synonymous with luxury. Despite a slow down in the global economy, sales increased by 30 per cent last year. His exclusive store is to open in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Fawaz Gruosi is the president of exclusive designer jewellery boutique de Grisogono – a brand synonymous with style and expert craftsmanship. With designs incorporating materials such as natural black and “Icy” diamonds, de Grisogono, which this month celebrates its 15th anniversary, is on the cutting-edge of jewellery fashion.

It’s international success – sales have been increasing by 30 per cent every year and projected figures for 2007 show 135 million Swiss franc (Dh454m) up from 108 million Swiss franc (Dh363m) in 2006 – Gruosi says it is because of his dedication and love for the brand. As the driving force behind the company the flamboyant, feisty and sometimes fiery Gruosi tells Emirates Business what motivates him. 

What makes you tick and what drew you to the industry?

—The one-word answer I can provide is love – love for the watch and

jewellery business. I am very passionate about this business and I started young. It is the only business I know and I give it my all. What makes me tick is my commitment, my colleagues and partners worldwide and the immense satisfaction I derive from it.

You worked for the Alireza Family in Saudi Arabia and subsequently went to work for Gianni Bulgari. How did these experiences prepare you for the challenge of setting up de Grisogono?

—I suppose being exposed to emerging, international and competitive markets was a great advantage I derived from working out of Saudi Arabia and London. I gained insights as a result of my association with these high-end and formidable names and these experiences collectively prepared me to confront the big challenges later.

Much of de Grisogono’s jewellery creations are centred on the iconic black diamond. Why do you hold the black diamond with so much fascination?

—At the time there was barely any interest in black diamonds. I have a great fascination for them partly because they are so exquisite and very rare. After I pursued serious interest in black diamonds, there was a flurry of activity in this arena with many more of my contemporaries and peers in the jewellery business demonstrating interest in this enigmatic precious stone.

De Grisogono launched its first watch – the Instrumento No Uno – and that was followed by the Instrumento version for ladies. How is the de Grisogono watch collection evolving in terms of design and appeal?

—I think the de Grisogono watch has hit the right chord with watch lovers and many customers. Innovation is at the very root of our brand philosophy and we are truly an exclusive brand. I am not keen on vastly expanding our retail network just for the additional sales.

De Grisogono watches are very distinctive and are painstakingly designed and involve very high standards of craftsmanship. This is why high-end buyers recognise the worth of our watch brands and buy them.

What is the profile of the typical de Grisogono buyer in the Middle East and how does it compare with other countries?

—When we first began, de Grisogono watches appealed to a small, very wealthy group of buyers who had style and flamboyance on their minds. As time progressed, our watch appeal is now more broad-based.

Mergers and partnerships between brands is gaining ground in the industry. Are you contemplating any such move?

—De Grisogono will continue to remain independent and for the moment will not consider partnerships or joint partnerships. However, I may consider financial partnership arrangements preferably from investor or investors outside the industry and no involvement in day-to-day functioning of the company.

How are you commemorating 15 years of the de Grisogono brand?

—We will be unveiling two unprecedented, extraordinary and outstanding watches. I am unable to provide you with any further information at this stage other than to say these two models will be unveiled in all their splendour at the forthcoming Baselworld 2008 (due to be held from April 3 to 10).

Fawaz Gruosi

Jeweller

Fawaz Gruosi, 55, began his career at 18 when he started work as a sales assistant for a renowned jeweller in Florence, Italy. Seven years later, while still a consultant to the firm, he oversaw the opening of its store in London and four years later was promoted to director.

After three years in the Middle East, where he worked for the Alireza family of Saudi Arabia as an agent for Harry Winston, he returned to Europe where Gianni Bulgari offered him a position with Bulgari Precious Trading.

In 1993, he and two associates founded de Grisogono, opening their first shop in Geneva that year. In 1996, the creative ingenuity of Gruosi – who is also an experienced diamond-cutter – was demonstrated when he created the now iconic black diamond creation, a whopping 300 carat (60g) stone. In 2000 he presented his very first watch and today de Grisogono has 17 original and exclusive collections.

 
 
 
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