By Sarah Townsend
L’Azurde Company for Jewelry CEO talks Middle Eastern tastes, best performing jewellery, advice on what to buy and the most expensive piece sold
Who are your customers and how is that changing?
We target women between 25 and 50 but see opportunities to win more with the youth. Young people are looking towards fast-moving fashion jewellery and away from the traditional gold their mothers and grandmothers wore.
How do the tastes of Middle Eastern consumers differ from those of Western consumers?
Middle Eastern customers typically buy bigger jewellery pieces than you would find in the West. Traditional wedding sets are not common in the West (sets in general are not popular). But you cannot say there is one taste across the Arab world. Even in Saudi we cater to micro-markets, for example, in the South, people look for traditional 21-carat gold, fewer stones and heavier pieces than you would see in Riyadh and other parts.
Which is performing better, diamond or gold jewellery?
People are very interested in jewels and precious stones and we are seeing a strong performance of diamond jewellery in our shops. In fact, this year, diamond jewellery has been outperforming gold – although I cannot disclose the figures.
What advice would you give to customers on how to choose a quality piece of jewellery over a lower-end one?
That’s obvious – go to L’azurde! Seriously, though, when you buy a high end piece of jewellery you have to do your homework. Ask the salesman, ask around, ask people in the market. Try to be careful about which retailer you’re buying from, and the brand. If you’re buying a certified stone, make sure you get the certificate.
Are jewellery scams a big risk for consumers today?
It does happen, yes. A few months ago [in May], a US jeweller called Kay Jewelers was accused of swapping precious stones with fakes and the share price [of its parent company Signet Jewelers] took a significant hit. Thankfully, L’azurde has a strong reputation – we have never at any point in our 40-year history had somebody complain our gold purity was not right or a diamond was not a diamond. Consumers are becoming smarter and more sophisticated than previous generations so gaining their trust is very important.
What’s the most expensive piece of jewellery you’ve sold?
A diamond wedding set that sold for roughly AED1.2 million ($326,700). Normally, our prices range from SR2,000 ($533) and SR1 million ($266,631), depending on what the piece is made of, the shop’s location and so on.
Does your wife wear L’azurde?
[Laughs]. My wife Veronica has her own personal taste. As with many Europeans, less is more – she prefers tiny pieces while Middle Eastern women generally want larger pieces. She picks up a few things from L’azurde and a few things from other places.For all the latest retail news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.