© Written by Rachael Taylor for VO+
When Fawaz Gruosi lands in Dubai, which tends to be about once a year, though he wishes it could be more, he loves nothing more than playing the foodie sleuth and tracking down the best new restaurants the city has to offer.
“I find Dubai to be an incredibly energetic city where almost everyone has a positive attitude and a smile on their face,” says the founder and creative director of deGrisogono. “The weather is fantastic and the facilities are second to none.”
But the year-round sunshine and myriad luxury resorts are not
the only draw for this trendsetting jewellery boss; Dubai is key to his business empire and has become even more important in the past year as it is here that deGrisogono opened its first ever subsidiary in 2014, with assistance from the Dubai Investment Economic Development Agency.
The jewellery and watch house has a healthy representation in the Middle East. It has two boutiques, one in the Salhia Complex in Kuwait run by retail partner Trafalgar and the other in Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Towers operated by Jocalia, as well as 12 authorised stockists that include Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons in Dubai, Al Fardan Jewellery in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Ghadah Jewellery also in Qatar and Trafalgar in Kuwait.
“Historically, the Middle East has always been home to some of our most faithful friends and customers,” says Gruosi, who adds that the brand has achieved a “certain level of notoriety” in the region. “The opening of a subsidiary to look after our partners in the area was a project that we have been considering for years. We were waiting for the right time and opportunity to do it. More than benefiting deGrisogono, this office benefits first and foremost our retailers, clients and friends. Having a local presence allows us to keep a finger on the pulse of the market, understanding the trends better and thus allowing better and faster reactivity.”
Shoppers in the Middle East are famed for their love of luxury,
and Gruosi says the challenge to capture their imagination with fresh annual doses of “unique and creative” designs is “a long-term, never- ending challenge”. Popular lines in the region include rose gold jewellery, anything set with emeralds and the brand’s famous black diamond collections, which Gruosi says Middle Eastern shoppers have a real affinity with.
But it’s not just Dubai’s reputation as a salient shopping destination that wooed the brand, but the city itself. Fantastic transport links and an enviably convenient spot on the map make Dubai the perfect hub from which to serve other nearby markets more easily and cost effectively than from deGrisogono’s hometown of Geneva. “Over the past 15 to 20 years, Dubai has established itself as a hub for business across the region,” says Gruosi. “This year our goal is to continue our wholesale activity whilst growing our retail presence. China, Southeast Asia and India are our main focuses for 2015 and 2016.”
And within the city of Dubai itself, deGrisogono is in negotiations to open its first monobrand boutique in partnership with Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons. “Demand for such spaces is quite high and supply is unfortunately low,” says Gruosi. “But this obliges all of us to stay on top of our game, which means that the ultimate beneficiary will always be the client.”
It’s that time of year again when degrisogono is getting ready to unveil its new offerings, the ones that will capture the imagination of not just its clients in the Middle East but all over the world. While we will have to wait for this year’s fairs to find out just what that entails, one early release suggests that rubies, or the King of Gems as deGrisogono likes to refer to them, will play a starring role.
The brand has created a ruby version of its Grappoli watch, a timepiece launched last year that features dense pavé on the dial and bezel, achieved by a random setting technique that jumbles various sizes of gemstones together, finished off with a spectacular double ring of briolette-cut gems that jingle freely around the edge of the gold case.
“The design of our grappoli watches truly enhances the sparkle of the briolettes as they move at the rhythm of a woman’s wrist,” says Gruosi. “I feel that these gemstones are perhaps a bit more daring than the classic cabochon cut often seen in jewellery.”
The sheer number of gemstones used is also daring. The new ruby Grappoli features 598 brilliant-cut rubies on the bezel, 70 briolette-cut rubies looping the watch, 256 snow-set rubies on the dial and 138 rubies on the clasp – a total of 108cts. “In order to unleash my creativity and bring my dreams forward, I never take into account any commercial, financial or temporal constraints,” says Gruosi. “Therefore, creativity is a pure expression of my passion.”
And that’s exactly what we look to deGrisogono to provide – audacious designs and pure, bejewelled passion – and Gruosi never fails to deliver.
This article was originally written for the April 2015 issue of VO+ Dubai, a bi-lingual jewellery and luxury magazine with text in English and Arabic that is sold in 25 countries.