From globally acclaimed creations to crafting the extraordinary, celebrities from around the world including Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid and even royals like Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, have seen being adorned in Mouawad jewellery.

The creative gem behind the prestigious jewellery house, Pascal Mouawad, along with his two brothers Alain Mouawad and Fred Mouawad, has made his mark as a member of the fourth generation of Mouawad.

Emirates Woman was lucky enough to sit with Pascal to go inside the world of this fine jewellery brand. We also discussed what it’s like working so closely with family and the difficulties that can come with it, the design process of Mouawad’s intricate pieces and the incredible history of the brand.

Can you tell us about the story behind Mouawad– where it started up until now?

 

The Mouawad legacy began with my great grandfather, David Mouawad, when he set out from his homeland of Lebanon in 1890. He was a pioneer and travelled to North America, where he learned the craft of watchmaker, goldsmith and jeweller before eventually bringing his craft back home. With his workshop set up in Beirut he acquired a reputation for creating magnificent and intricate clocks, as well as fashioning one-of-a-kind pieces commissioned by wealthy clients. His son, Fayez, took over the helm of the family business in 1940 and carried Mouawad’s reputation to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where he was one of the first jewellers to embellish watches with precious gemstones and to bring luxury watch brands to the country. He became known for fashioning outstanding pieces and unique creations for kings and the aristocracy, often commemorating exceptional state events. Fayez’s son, Robert, my father, took over the family business with a great vision that led him to establish a presence in Europe, Asia and North America, opening manufacturing facilities, retail boutiques, and design studios across multiple cities. Throughout this time, he also acquired some of the world’s rarest diamonds and became known as one of the diamond industry’s biggest players. In 2010, the company reins were handed over to the fourth generation – myself and my brothers, Fred and Alain, and we designated ourselves as co-guardians and implemented a strategy to build on our vast heritage while carrying the brand forward into the future. Part of this was to achieve complete vertical integration as a diamond manufacturer through the DTC Sightholder designation and the establishment of the Mouawad Diamond Factory.

 

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Can you talk us through your career history?

I grew up in Geneva, Switzerland and after graduating high school I moved to Los Angeles to continue my education. After undergraduate studies at California’s Pepperdine University, I went on to obtain my Gemology degree from the Gemological Institute of America, and then followed this with an MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. I remained settled in the United States and had a vision to build on our company’s heritage of catering to royalty by giving it an innovative twist: this is how I began building relationships with modern-day royalty – A-list celebrities.

In 2010, I took over the family business with my two brothers as co-guardians and since then have been leveraging my expertise leading the business with my siblings.

What is it like working so closely with your family?

Working with family members is not an easy task. With my siblings, we agreed to put family first to mitigate any relationship friction that could result from the business. As such, we hired a professional management team to run the day to day operation while we sit at the Board level controlling the destiny of our family business. We work well as a team and have learned to compromise when needed.

In your own words, what does Mouawad represent?

I think that it is summed up by our tagline of “Crafting the extraordinary”. This embodies what the business stands for – the element of craftsmanship, which involves expertise, tradition, innovation, quality, beauty and the element of extraordinary, which is about art, imagination, exceptional accomplishments.

What goes into the creation process for pieces under the Mouawad name?

It is a long process that begins with the sourcing of the rough gems, then on to the craftsmanship involved with cutting and polishing these gems and then mounting them into beautifully crafted jewellery. Every aspect and step are produced in-house. Often, the design of a piece of jewellery is inspired by the gems that go into it, at other times it is inspired by universal themes, such as love and nature. The process is collaborative and takes place across continents, but always within Mouawad, allowing us to control the quality and assure the client.

In your opinion, what are the best pieces produced under the Mouawad umbrella?

To date, I would mention the Mouawad Dragon Suite. This suite features the Mouawad Dragon, an extraordinary polished 54.21 carat round brilliant cut, fancy vivid yellow, revered as the largest diamond of its type graded to date by the Gemological Institute of America. The Mouawad Kimberley Yellow Diamond is another recent highlight, a rough of over 100 carats that we acquired which was then cut by our master craftsmen to become two distinguished pieces: a larger 71.13 carat cushion-shaped fancy intense yellow diamond, rated VVS2 for clarity, and a 10.17-carat radiant cut satellite stone, rated internally flawless. These are only two examples – there are more and there is no such thing as the best – they are all extraordinary in their own way.

What has it been like spearheading the Mouawad brand with notable names like Heidi Klum?

I had the idea to begin collaborating with celebrities over two decades ago. This was an interesting time and it was a pleasure to nurture the creative talent of celebrities who already had a reputation for style. As part of our new strategy, we no longer do celebrity licensing agreements. Rather, we dress celebrities for red carpet occasions. Being a celebrity jeweller continues to be a strong marketing angle for us.

Looking back over your career, can you tell us about three major hurdles you’ve had to overcome?

While getting my education, I was always interested in the field of finance. I pursued an Undergraduate Degree in Business Administration and a Graduate Degree in Finance. Finance was always my passion. Had I not been born into the Mouawad diamond family, I would have ended up working on Wall Street. That said, the first hurdle that I overcame in my career was convincing myself that my path was to pursue the journey of my predecessors in the field of jewellery and watchmaking. Gladly, I learned to become passionate about my industry.

The second hurdle in my career started right when I joined my father to work with and under him. I was always worried about the dynamics that would occur between my father and I when it came to business. My father was and continues to be an inspiring business leader to me, but I always knew that working with him would be a challenge. It took some time for me to adapt.

The third hurdle I had to overcome in my career occurred in 2010 when my father decided to retire from the watch and jewellery business and have my brothers and I run the family business. I now had to find a way to work with my siblings. We all started as Co-Presidents and the structure did not work. It took us over two years to find the right structure for the three of us to co-exist in the business and not get family ties affected. We finally established a structure where we all became gatekeepers of our family business. We gave ourselves the title of Co-Guardians.

 

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On the opposite end of the spectrum, what are your top three milestones from your career, so far?

When we took over the family business, we had to set a strategy for the first decade. The first milestone was moving away from being a multi-brand retailer into a mono-brand one. We successfully terminated all agency agreements we were representing with important European luxury brands and went on to build our brand exclusively under our own label which included timepieces.

The second milestone pertained to coming up with a clear focused positioning for our brand. We were catering to different targets of the market from boutique jewellery, to object of art collectors to watch connoisseurs to important diamond buyers. We ended with the tagline “Crafting the extraordinary”.

Mouawad has always been known for its magnificent jewellery and now our company’s entire focus is geared towards the extraordinary jewellery and diamonds category. We are focused on servicing ultra-high net worth individuals.

The third milestone in my career is my personal development. After being away from schooling for over 20 years, I decided about eight years ago to pursue Executive Education. I joined Harvard Business School’s Owners President Management Program (OPM) and became an alumnus three years later. This experience led me to start a journey of Executive Education that I now purse every single year except for this one due to the pandemic. I joined YPO (Young President’s Organization) and ever since attend YPO programs at Stanford Graduate School of Business, Columbia Business School, INSEAD and more. Investing in my personal development is my biggest milestone to date.

And finally, what are the future plans for Mouawad? Any exciting things you can reveal?

We are continuing our partnership with the Miss Universe Organization. We are also continuing with our permanent philanthropic initiative, the Mouawad Diamond Impact Fund, which aims to create value by bettering lives of underprivileged communities across the world through education and skills development. Our future plans also revolve of course around continuing to craft the extraordinary. We are looking to open up new markets and showcase our brand to a wider audience of ultra-high net worth individuals looking to own very unique gems and jewellery. I recommend following us on social media to keep up to date with our latest creations and news.

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