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Tuesday, 10 March 2009

The Tanzanite King

With the economic meltdown, investors have been turning to gold and rare gemstones as safer long term options. Enter fine jewellery designer Faisal Jooal, whose clients are so exclusive that he won't even reveal their names to me. His Kenya-based family has been trading in in gemstones for four generations, but Faisal, who studied at the London School of Economics, took the business to another level by entering the rarified world of exclusive gemstone design.

Faisal sources his gems from mines in Central, Eastern and Southern Africa, Australia, and other places. He mentions a ruby mine in Tanzania, though the highly sought coloured tanzanite seems to have become his signature stone. He describes as his favourite, a mine owned by the South African Mining Company in Tanzania as 'The most socially ethical. It is one of the most adavanced in the world.'

He told me he has built relationships with key sources so that 'when the finest pieces come out of these mines, they know who to bring them to. Consequently, we get some of the world's biggest pieces and gemstones that people don't even get to hear about.'

With pieces first available from Harrods Fine Jewellery Room in 2003, Jooal then opened a store in Mayfair in 2006. He revealed that he only needs 200-300 clients in each territory, due to the nature of his product. He plans to open stores in Dubai, Moscow, New York, Monaco, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Delhi and Mumbai.

For Asian Enterprise Magazine, I get some really interesting CEOs from different disciplines and I love using the opportunity to get into their heads a little bit and ask them whatever I want. The interview with Faisal Jooal is in Issue 6, volume 1.

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