International Jewellery London caters to Arab tastes

Three-day event showcases product lines from more than 550 high-end, finished jewellery man­ufacturers, designers, suppliers of loose gemstones, retail services, 167 new exhibitors.

2016/10/02 Issue: 75 Page: 19

The Arab Weekly
Dunia El-Zobaidi

London - International Jewellery Lon­don, Britain’s leading trade event for the industry, at­tracted Arab and interna­tional retailers, distributors and designers catering to Middle Eastern clientele and tastes.

The three-day event showcased product lines from more than 550 high-end, finished jewellery man­ufacturers, designers, suppliers of loose gemstones and retail services and 167 new exhibitors.

Tom Kennett, co-founder of ATOZ Distribution Ltd, which rep­resents brands such as Brera and Wolf & Badger, noted that “Middle Eastern culture wants something that’s bold and durable”.

“They (Arabs) live in a harsh en­vironment temperature-wise and are active too so they want some­thing they can wear in the board­room or scuba-dive with it or wear in the desert. The Brera products seem to fit that profile and is a lot more affordable than you think,” Kennett said.

Watches related to sport also appeal to Arab customers, mostly Emiratis from Dubai, he said.

“People of the UAE tend to like the Gran Turismo watch related to the sporty Italian cars, which is big and bold. A lot of them don’t wear the professional divers’ watch to the limit of what it is designed to but they like the fact they have a professional watch. Also the colour gold seems to appeal to Arab cus­tomers but they like the European design as well,” Kennett said.

He noted that watches with metal straps are also very popular among Middle Eastern clients. “This is because of the warm weather,” he said. “However, there is still a de­mand for leather straps and the UK is unique because we focus on leather straps, the fabric style.”

Kennett, who created his own brand, remarked that products related to British culture are also quite popular.

“I noticed Arabs like British cul­ture so we have created an afford­able range of watches for them to emulate what Britain is all about. We have named our watches af­ter streets in London like Carnaby Street, for example,” he said.

Annelies Holway, British dis­tributor for Waldmann pens, also pointed out the fondness of Arabs for British culture and explained what Arabs like as Christmas pre­sents: “We produce gifts that go in Christmas crackers and with Ar­abs it can’t be anything to do with drinking, smoking, gambling, etc… so it has to be quite conservative gifts such as pens, cufflinks, small picture frames and small trinket boxes for ladies.”

Katie Martin, head of retail at Astley Clarke, highlighted the most popular jewellery for Christmas.

“The blue diamond collection that we had last Christmas sold particularly well with Middle East­ern markets, notably Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE. They tend to really like our biography bracelets because they are colourful,” she said. “You can buy them in multi­ples so you stack them up and wear them as a stack. Each one of the charms has a meaning behind it. They like the hand of Fatima or the Hamsa hand.”

Jewellery designer Reema Pachachi produced her own brand, Kuka-Me, after becoming the first creative director of De Beers LV in 2001. She has two lines of produc­tion. One, she said, “is focused on silver jewellery, which is accessible for independent women who can buy jewellery for themselves and it works with fashion but is not par­ticularly trend-driven, while the other focuses on gem stones and bespoke pieces”.

Pachachi stressed what she called “the changing trends” among Arab women in the choice of jewellery.

“They are much more open to ac­cessorising and not so concerned with glitz like they used to be. As such, I have become more appeal­ing to Arab customers than before,” she said. “Younger Arabs tend to be more used to their wealth. For a while, people weren’t used to their wealth so they wanted to display and express it. They used to dress head to toe in one brand but now they are becoming more confident in picking and choosing unbranded things.”

Dunia El-Zobaidi is an Arab Weekly correspondent in London.

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