The 14th Doha Jewelry and Watches Exhibition was held between 20 to 25 February at the Doha Exhibition and Conference Center in the heart of Doha’s business district. Doha Jewelry and Watches Exhibition Auditoire Managing Director Mazen Abd Rabbo said the exhibition was organized by Qatar Tourism Authority and French company Auditoire.
“This is the 14th year of the exhibition and we tried to make it as unique as possible. This year the exhibition’s theme was ‘Once Upon A Time Luxury’. We had famous and ancient artifacts displayed at the exhibition. We also had special activities in this exhibition. There are free watch making workshops by Objectif Horlogerie for all visitors and a free photo shoot from the top photography studio in Paris, Harcourt Studio,” said Abd Rabbo.
He also said this year’s exhibition had a pavilion for young and upcoming Qatari jewelry designers.
“Fifty One East sponsored the pavilion and allowed young Qatari jewelry designers to have a platform free of charge where they can showcase and sell their work. The young designers were Fajr Al-Attiya, Ghada Al-Bouanain, Nada Al-Sulaiti, Noor Al-Fardan, Nouf Al-Meer and Sarah Al-Hammadi,” said Abd Rabbo.
He added there are also renowned international brands in the exhibition such as Davidor from France, Bellina Collection from Italy, Voyageur from Lebanon, Baheti Jewellery from India, Karun Jewellery from Turkey, Anan Anjamani from Thailand and Amber by Mazukna from Lithuania.
“There were also Qatari jewelry patrons such as Al-Fardan Jewellery Company, Al-Majed Jewellery, Al-Muftah Jewellery, Ali Bin Ali Group, Blue Salon and Fifty One East. There is more than 400 brands from 10 countries,” said Abd Rabbo.
Objectif Horlogerie Watch Expert Geoffroy Ader said their job here is to educate the people about watch value.
“Many people are interested in becoming watch collectors but they don’t know where to start and how to value watches. We offer evaluation consultation and a free workshop to see how watches work inside,” said Ader.
He said a lot of watch collectors from the Middle East visit European auctions.
“It is very important for people to understand what the watch world is. This exhibition is one of the few exhibitions where the watches are sold at the exhibition itself. There are two types of watch collectors. There are collectors that collect new watches and there are collectors that collect vintage watches which are not made anymore,” said Ader.
Baheti Jewelry Brand Owner Nettin Baheti owns an Indian jewelry brand with a focus on traditional Indian designs.
“I participated in this exhibition because Qatar is a growing market. The relations between the Indian culture and the Gulf region culture have deep historical roots. There are a lot of Qatari consumers who appreciate Indian designs,” said Baheti.
He plans to participate in the Jewelry Salon event in Jeddah in May.
Al-Majed Jewellery Media and Advertisement Senior Executive Maymoun Safia said they offer traditional designs and international designs.
“Pearling and jewelry design has been the family trade of Al-Majed Jewellery. Al-Majed Jewellery was established in 1943. We focus on maintaining traditional designs but we also offer the newest designs internationally to stay up to date with the market,” said Safia.
Al-Zain Jewellers Senior Marketing Executive Fatima Al-Arab said jewelry design is a form of art and Al-Zain Jewelry aims to expose its customers to different cultures by integrating foreign concepts into their jewelry design.
“That’s been our vision since 1930. The owners of the business are Mr. Hassan Al-Zain and his wife and kids. They are the fourth generation in the family to uphold the business. We design and manufacture our jewelry locally in Bahrain. The Sakura collection was inspired by the Japanese cherry blossoms. We also have a Mehraja collection which integrates the Indian culture and the Arabic culture. We have a collection of natural pearls with amber rocks. It rare to see this combination but we have very daring designers,” said Al-Arab.
She added we aim to see Arabs wearing our pieces which represent different cultures.
“Our vision is to make people dream. We create designs that embody what people see in their dreams and the vision they hope to live by,” said Al-Arab.
Al-Zain Jewelry General Manager Mohammad Hassan is based in Bahrain.
“Our brand offers traditional designs and modern designs. It is a family business. We participate in the biggest exhibitions in the world. We also have stores in Saudi Arabia in Riyadh and Al-Khobar and we will soon open in Jeddah,” said Hassan.
He said their brand highly depends on the Saudi customer.
“We follow up with our customers and we offer repair and maintenance services. We can restore old jewelry pieces and modernize old designs as well. We do our manufacturing in Bahrain. It’s cheaper but it comes with its challenges,” said Hassan.
He added the taste of the Gulf customer in jewelry has improved today in comparison to olden days.
Al-Mahmood Pearls Owner Mohammad Al-Mahmood said pearling is a family trade for him.
“I am the seventh generation in my family to work in the pearling business. I began since I was a child. I used to accompany my dad when he would go to the workshop. I used to play around the place and familiarize myself with how pearls are processed. When I grew older, I went to study jewelry design in London and in other places in Europe,” said Al-Mahmood.
He revealed he had many offers to work for the King and in the private sector when he returned from his studies but he refused all of these offers.
“I went back to the original trade of my family and its pearl trading. The pearling is a rare industry. It needs patience and it needs a budget. It’s my passion. I get ideas on designs at night and when I am asleep. It keeps me up until the next day when I can work on my ideas. The pearl industry is truly a unique one,” said Al-Mahmood.
He said today, anyone can be a jewelry designer and work with diamonds. All they have to do is train on how to design and use the equipments.
“But working with pearls is truly a unique process that requires the person to truly be passionate about it. One needs experience and not a degree. When I went to study in Europe, they did not know anything about the natural pearl. All they do is put it in an x-ray and analyze it. But they don’t know how to work with it. There are specific families that work with pearls as a family trade. We help each other, though. If I needed a piece of pearl and I could not get it myself, I can ask for one from someone who is in the same business,” said Al-Mahmood.
He also said the pearling community understands how hard it is to manufacture natural pearls.
“We trust each other. We support each other. I am based in Bahrain where we only trade in natural pearls. Trading unnatural pearls is illegal. We mainly design pearl necklaces. We try to modernize traditional designs. We want everyone to be able to wear local and traditional designs. My customers are from all over the world. The gulf customers are usually the ones who are able to recognize the traditional designs and are attracted to them,” Al-Mahmood added.
He said the brand’s international customers are usually attracted to Victorian designs.
“We got a Victorian piece from an auction and augmented it with a pearl necklace. We also have other collections of more internationally recognizable designs such as a duck. But we use national pearls. My designs are bought by men and women. The pearling market is very active at the moment. We have several divers every day who come to our harbor to search for natural pearls. About 10 years ago, there was barely a diver every week,” said Al-Mahmood.
He also said the pearling market offers opportunities for the jobless and those who are on early retirement. All they do is dive in search for the pearls. Then they sell their findings and earn good profit as pearls are nationally and internationally demanded.
Al-Mawla Jewelry Owner Ali Mawla said his brand is based in Lebanon but he has a store in Qatar.
“Al-Mawla Jewelry has been open for 12 years and this is our 12th year participating in this exhibition. The manufacturing and the design is all done in Lebanon. We only sell one piece of each design. Every piece we sell is exclusive. Our target consumers are gulf women and women in general,” said Al-Mawla.
He added the jewelry pieces sold at Al-Mawla Jewelry range from a few thousands to a few millions.
“We sell jewelry for women of all social classes. All of our pieces are originally designed by our in-house designers and we only produce one piece of every design, we never replicate. We know that the Gulf woman likes to be unique in her accessories, so we cater our customers’ desire,” said Al-Mawla.
Hairaat Jewelry Owner Nada Al-Sulaiti said her brand was established in 2011.
“I always aim to merge the remarkable Qatari culture and architecture with high jewelry design standards. We prioritize the needs and wants of our customers and offer quality services to them,” said Al-Sulaiti.
Ghada Al-Buainain said she is a Qatari designer who started her brand two years ago.
“My brand stands for simplicity in design. It is very contemporary and suitable for the modern youth. My first collection was inspired by the pipes’ versatility and form. You can shape the pipe however you want. So I made a jewelry collection inspired by pipes. My second collection is called the Digital Garden. It’s a digitally designed fence with roses sprouting out of it. My pieces are bought by both men and women,” said Al-Buainain.
Witr Jewelry CEO Reem Al-Shamari said her brand has a new concept that she initiated and is new in the jewelry world.
“Jewelry is beautiful but most designs lack the personal value. It is really easy to copy a design. We personalize the jewelry for the customer by designing pieces according to their eye print. The eye print is very unique to each eye. An eye print is never replicated. When a person dies, their unique eye print goes away with them. So my eye concept is a way of immortalizing someone through their eye print,” said Al-Shamari.
She added they engrave the eye print on yellow gold, rose gold, white gold and silver.
“We built a specialized studio that captures the eye print on high resolution. The second collection I have is called Bint Al-Lulu (The Daughter of the Pearl). The design is meant to describe the girl of who grew up in the pearling business. It’s a Qatari tradition to some families. The designs are all done by us but the manufacturing is in Italy. We also have a collection of rosaries,” said Al-Shamari.
She believes that even though customers from all over the world find the concept of the eye print desirable, it is only the high end customers that truly seek out the personal value.