By David Brough
Gulf Middle Eastern collectors bidding in high-value jewellery auctions prefer signed, or branded, jewellery items featuring outsized coloured gemstones, notably emeralds and rubies which show off women’s abayas, fashionable outer garments, more than blue sapphires, Beirut-based dealer Jean Jureidini says.
Gulf Arab buyers, facing ever fiercer competition at auctions from a new wave of Chinese collectors, are accustomed to regularly purchasing jewellery which they see as stores of value in uncertain times.
“They want rare, big and beautiful gemstones and, if set by Harry Winston or another top jewellery brand, even better for them,” said Jureidini, the Middle East ambassador for digital coloured gemstone platform Gembridge.
Other popular brands with Gulf Arab collectors include Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Graff and Bulgari. At the top end of the market, they prefer Colombian emeralds and Burmese rubies.
“Women in the Gulf tend to choose jewellery set with beautiful coloured gemstones that contrast brightly with their abayas when they go out,” Jureidini said.
“This tends to be emeralds first, then rubies,” he added. “Natural pearls from Bahrain are also popular. Bahraini pearls are sought after because they are scarce.”
Fashion-conscious Middle Eastern women are developing tastes for other types of gemstones that blend well with their suntanned skin tones, such as morganites, tanzanites, spinels, garnets, peridots, alexandrites, and tourmalines, especially Paraiba tourmalines.
However, these so-called “fine gemstones” require a strong marketing push in the region, Jureidini said.
Coloured gemstones are popular in amulets in the Middle East, he added.
Vintage emerald necklace
Jureidini is preparing to list on the Gembridge platform an extraordinary vintage emerald necklace created by his grandfather, the respected jeweller Najib Tabbah.
“This unique emerald necklace has witnessed some of the most glamorous nights of Beirut’s golden era. It has been a spectator of key moments in the history of the Levant, at the heart of this vibrant city,” he said.
The necklace shows off a gorgeous old-mine emerald, adorned by 248 diamonds and 40 square emeralds, all meticulously handcrafted by elite masters.
“The design was originally conceived and drawn by hand by my grandfather, Najib Tabbah,” Jureidini said.
“This unique piece has been in the family for more than 60 years and has been a part of our heritage.”