Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Eva Mendes—they’ve all worn de Grisogono jewels. They’re big and bling, but revered not only for their unusual designs, but also for their creator’s ability to turn the “ugly” into a piece de resistance. We talked to Fawaz Gruosi, the man behind the brand, about his designs and his Indian connection.
What inspires you as a designer?
I don’t get inspiration from women, rather I get it from nature. Even as I look at this bouquet of flowers on the table, the yellow, green and orange jump out at me or that lamp over there makes me visualize a pair of earrings.
You are considered an unconventional jeweller...
I prefer a modern approach to design. I got into the jewellery business by accident. Having grown up in a very social environment, I believe in mixing work with pleasure. When I began inviting friends who happened to be famous for my launches, I realized that it helped my business, but for me it was about being with friends and having fun.
What made you decide to tap the Indian market?
We wanted to be present everywhere and this meant opening stores in countries such as Japan, China and India. We just finished the Japan launch and are now in India. We have tied up with Mirari, an Indian jewellery brand, and we thought it would be better to understand the market with them first. Later on, we plan to open our own separate outlets.
You have a connection with India also because of the black diamond.
When I first wanted to use the black diamond, I was told I was a cheat for pricing something that was worthless and ugly very high. I persisted and bought many rough stones to find the perfect one. Nobody was willing to cut the rough pieces. Finally, the diamond cutters in Mumbai came to my rescue and agreed to cut it, and it became my my signature piece. I got the Gruosi Black diamond from India in 1998; now they are famous the world over. Two years after that, the price of black diamonds rose by 32%.
And there was the icy diamond...
The jewellery market tends to get very boring; it is essential to invent and reinvent very often. After the black diamond, I discovered the potential in the icy diamond, which brought the beauty of a clouded diamond to the fore. Crystal clear diamonds had always been the revered one. There was no logic behind it, but I gave the other stones life. Today they’re in great demand.
What about watches?
I got into watches because the traffic was slow in the stores. Jewellery is expensive and we decided to get into watches to create more traffic. It turned out to be a huge success and soon we were swamped with orders. It is dangerous to grow too fast, too soon. It was a long-term headache, but now that we are entering our eighth year, I’ve got a hang of the watch business as well.
Despite so much of expansion, why are your prices so steep?
We cater to a niche market. Each piece of jewellery is a piece of art and just like an artist, I would be insulted to lower my prices for commercial purposes. We also have simpler pieces for our clients. I believe in creating unusual designs first; inevitably there are people out there who love them and ultimately that’s what matters the most.
What goes best with a diamond?
It’s an old notion, one that my grandmother believed, that jewels are only for special occasions or for the evening. Now you wear jewellery in the morning, afternoon and evening. I like them worn with semi-elegant clothes or even a pair of jeans. With denim, diamonds look the most chic and elegant.
The de Grisogono jewellery prices start at Rs1.2 lakh (basic ring without any precious stones) and that of the watches start at Rs8.8 lakh