Mouawad Eyes Global Expansion With The Peninsula Partnership
LONDON — Mouawad, the century-old, family-owned jeweler hailing from Lebanon, has big ambitions for the Asian market following the opening of its first European flagship at the Peninsula London.
Taking over a street-facing prime spot at the hotel overlooking the Wellington Arch and the garden of Buckingham Palace, the jeweler’s boutique debuted an upbeat and contemporary design in the hues of brass gold, olive green and warm ochre with Levantine-inspired columns dividing the spaces and reflecting its Mediterranean roots.
Pascal Mouawad, the fourth generation to lead the brand alongside his brothers Fred and Alain, said the location marks the second collaborative effort with the Peninsula. Its first boutique in the Greater China region opened in 2022 at the Peninsula Hong Hong in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, a space once occupied by Piaget.
The London store carries a full range of products, from more affordable bridal and fine jewelry collections to high jewelry priced up to $1 million, as well as one-off masterpieces and timepieces, targeting the affluent local clientele and wealthy travelers from Asia, the Gulf region and the U.S.
Mouawad said while the brand is known for crafting big, fancy sets for royal households in Saudi Arabia and Brunei and sponsoring landmark pop culture events like the fantasy bras for Victoria’s Secret shows and bespoke crowns for Miss Universe with stones sourced and polished in South Africa, its more affordable collections targeting a youthful audience have been gaining ground.
“The market has shifted. There’s more pressure on lower prices, so we now have ranges like the Flower of Eternity. It’s a collection we’ve had for about 10 years. Three hearts are connected with a center stone representing the past, present and future,” he said.
He added that a new collection, inspired by the brand’s L’Incomparable necklace would do well with the brand’s followers on social media, and incentivize them to come to the store to explore the Mouawad universe. The original design, featuring a 407.48-carat yellow diamond, holds the Guinness World Record for the most valuable necklace in the world. It sold for $55 million in 2013, reportedly to Nita Ambani, the wife of billionaire businessman Mukesh Ambani of the Reliance Group conglomerate.
To raise awareness in Asia, the brand last year also launched the Venus Collection with Beatrice Ho, granddaughter of the late Macau gambling tycoon Stanley Ho, in Hong Kong. For 2024, Mouawad said he is also looking to collaborate with an emerging U.K.-based jewelry designer.
“We are transforming the brand into what is today in terms of the new look and feel. We are known for the very high-end, which we continue to want to be known for. But at the same time, we’re introducing lower price points pieces that can be sold to a younger and wider audience worldwide, both online and offline,” said Mouawad, adding that fifth-generation members are very involved in helping design and market these new launches.
There is no shortage of legendary jewelers in London, be it local suppliers to the British royal family like Garrard & Co., Asprey and Bentley & Skinner, or global players with deep roots in the city such as Cartier, Boucheron and Chaumet.
Mouawad said the brand is not in a rush to dress its neighbors living inside Buckingham Palace, even though members of the British royal family have owned pieces crafted by Mouawad.
For now, the focus is to build relationships with the hotel’s clientele from around the world and tap into certain circles in London via key gatekeepers like Richard Caring, owner of Annabel’s, Harry’s Bar and Mark’s Club.
“We are letting our customers know that we now have a location in London, which is great because many of our loyal customers in the Middle East and Asia have homes here. So they are very excited,” he added.
Mouawad counts the Middle East as its biggest market, with stores in Dubai, Jeddah, Riyadh, Manama and Doha. The brand also has offices in Los Angeles, Geneva and Beirut, with its head office in Dubai. Asia and Europe are important markets as well.
“We potentially may open in more locations. At the moment, we have these two stores [outside of the Middle East] because London and Hong Kong are very strong bases for The Peninsula.
“Our immediate expansion plans are into the Asia markets after this boutique. We are looking to open another store in Malaysia,” said Mouawad, adding that potential locations in mainland China, Singapore and Indonesia are on the horizon as well.
“We do quite a bit of sales in Thailand as well. My brother Fred is based there. So he is helping to expand in the Asian market with trunk shows,” he added.
The next phase following Asia would be the U.S. market.
“I’m currently based in Los Angeles myself, so we do some private events. It’s not a big focus of ours yet. The U.S. is its own little continent. Having a presence there means it’s a strategy, that you don’t only open in New York, you need to have full presence in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago and Florida as well,” he said.
Founded in 1890 by David Mouawad, who embarked on a journey to the U.S. and Mexico to learn the craftsmanship of watchmaking, the brand began as a small watch workshop in Lebanon.
His son Fayez Mouawad decided about 65 years ago to make his way to Saudi Arabia, where at the time the country was booming. He quickly became the jeweler to the king and the queen and was the only foreign jeweler allowed to operate in the country at the time.
Third-generation leader Robert Mouawad took the business global in the ’70s by setting up offices in Geneva and New York and launching multibrand retail operations in the Philippines, Thailand and Japan, representing brands like Chopard, Piaget and Cartier.
When the business was passed down to the three brothers in 2010, they decided to move away from the multibrand business and focus on creating a new identity for Mouawad.
“We’re fully vertically integrated. So some retailers have no choice but to represent brands, but our expertise is manufacturing, designing, and creating. So we said ‘Why are we putting our money building other brands when in fact we are a brand ourselves?’ We can even make our watches in Switzerland,” Mouawad said.
With strong in-house capability, bespoke service continues to be a key pillar of Mouawad’s offering, on top of the brand’s effort to sell to the masses. Mouawad said the brand not only can build a bespoke engagement ring within two weeks, but it is also able to deliver extravagant items like a baby carriage crusted in gold and precious stones, which was commissioned by a royal household.
Mouawad Eyes Global Expansion With The Peninsula Partnership