INTERVIEW – Rise of digital trading will encourage collectors to offer gemstone treasures in new platforms, Middle East dealer says

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While coloured gemstone trading has been hard hit in the Middle East during the pandemic, collectors will now be tempted to take gemstones out of their safes and offer them in a rapidly evolving digital marketplace, Beirut-based gemstone dealer Jean Jureidini, an Ambassador for digital trading platform Gembridge, tells Jewellery Outlook Editor David Brough. 

How did you come to be involved in the world of gemstone trading?

I grew up in a family of internationally recognized jewellers and started getting exposed to the gemstone trade early in life.

I was formally introduced to the world of magnificent gemstones and jewellery by my uncle Mr. Nabil Tabbah, owner and CEO of the House of Tabbah, where I gained experience working behind the scenes of gem trading, jewellery manufacturing, and in more sales-focused and customer-oriented roles in Monte Carlo, Geneva and Beirut.

Jean Jureidini
Jean Jureidini

I fell in love with this field and have never looked back since. 

Did you study to be a gemmologist?

I knew deep inside that this career sparked an interest within me and so I decided to pursue a formal education in gemmology by attending the GIA in New York and Los Angeles, and got my Graduate Gemologist diploma in September 1991.

Training, travelling, attending fairs and seminars, meeting producers, learning the basic cutting skills, curiosity and experience did the rest.

Have you always been passionate about gemstones?

My passion for gemstones grew as I watched my grandfather Mr. Nagib Tabbah and my uncle Mr. Nabil Tabbah presenting their rare gems to their customers and guiding them on different criteria to look for in a stone.

Later on, I came to realize through my various trips to Bangkok, Hong Kong and India that each gem, regardless of its financial value, has a story of its own that makes it somewhat unique.

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Be it an emotional attachment that the owner has for the stone, or some type of mysterious or symbolic inclusion (or the lack of it) that makes the stone intriguing or extremely rare and gives the buyer the perception of some form of meaning in the stone.

What I find so beautiful in minerals is that the mere sight of them has the extraordinary ability to start conversations between people and to create bonds over stories. They are the ultimate story tellers! 

What is it about gemstones that appeals to you?

This is very hard for me to say. Stating the obvious, each gem, regardless of its monetary value, holds a beauty that cannot be found in another.

The key word is: Magic! Gemstones cast a spell when you look at them! 

What is your favorite gemstone?

As a passionate lover of coloured gemstones, I came to trade with the widest array of precious and fine stones, so answering a simple question like this one is actually not easy.

A beautiful gem is simply a … beautiful gem! However, if I have to choose, I would say, spinels.

Lately, mines are providing materials with a wide panel of colours and sizes, high lustre, high hardness, eye clean, and very little to no treatment is needed. I also think that their value on the market is still slightly underrated, so they represent a good “placement” of money.

The pandemic has changed the ways in which people live and work – and in how they trade in gemstones. You are an Ambassador for the digital trading platform Gembridge in the Middle East. What does this mean? How will your new role change the way in which you will trade gemstones? How important a network is the Gembridge community of traders?

I have to say that I am really excited about the revolutionary approach to gemstone trading that the Gembridge platform is leading.

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I always wondered why the world of gemstones was late when it came to digital innovation.

Being an Ambassador to Gembridge for the Middle East is very exciting and challenging to say the least, and my ability to be at the forefront of change means that I will not only witness new ways of trading in the digital era, but will also be among the key players.

The Gembridge network of trusted and verified professionals has added the two most important ingredients to any business partnership: security and trust!

This will allow many of the trade professionals, including myself, to engage in the buying and selling process with peace of mind, knowing there is a circle of trust on the Gembridge platform, enabling people who have never met to engage safely in the trade process, and unlocking the potential for an unmatched free flow of transactions. 

You are readying listings on the Gembridge platform. Can you describe a few highlighted pieces and say what makes them special? 

Some interesting items will soon be displayed on the platform:

A 3.84-ct untreated Burmese pink spinel.

3.84-ct untreated Burmese pink spinel

A vintage diamonds and Colombian emeralds necklace. This unique necklace has witnessed some of the most glamorous nights of Beirut’s golden era, the vibrant city that never dies!

vintage diamonds and Colombian emeralds necklace

A classic yet dazzling diamonds and Siam rubies set. High quality Siam rubies are very rare to find nowadays, and there is a high probability that the rubies are not heat treated.

A noteworthy comment to make on this four- pieces set is that it has never been worn.

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dazzling diamonds and Siam rubies necklace

dazzling diamonds and Siam rubies earring

dazzling diamonds and Siam rubies bracelet

diamonds and Siam rubies ring

Crafted by the hands of elite goldsmiths, the minutiae of its design are a testimony to its high level of craftsmanship.

Furthermore, the bed of rubies and diamonds that adorn it, give it a truly exquisite and timeless appeal. The ultimate collector’s choice!

How is the trade in coloured gemstones evolving in the Middle East, and what is the outlook for the high end coloured gemstones market during and after the pandemic, in your view?

The pandemic has definitely hit the trade hard in the Middle East, but that doesn’t mean that people are not willing to do business: it only means that the conditions surrounding this pandemic have made high end gemstones trading a little bit more difficult.

The pandemic has definitely hit the trade hard in the Middle East, but that doesn’t mean that people are not willing to do business: it only means that the conditions surrounding this pandemic have made high end gemstones trading a little bit more difficult.

Gembridge, however, has come at a perfect time to bridge the gap between sellers and potential buyers, while simultaneously allowing people to trade from the comfort of their home, avoiding the need to travel during this crisis.

The high end coloured gemstones market, despite everything, is very promising here as it has always been.

People have been hiding treasures in their safes for years without knowing what to actually do with them and Gembridge is here to change that. The future seems promising!

Jean Jureidini