Fred Mouawad’s jewellery is coming to town soon

The stunning jewellery collection was also worn by Kristen Stewart in Spencer


Joydeep Sengupta

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Published: Fri 22 Apr 2022, 4:48 PM

Last updated: Mon 25 Apr 2022, 1:06 PM

Fred Mouawad is a global citizen, portfolio entrepreneur, and a fourth generation Co-Guardian of Mouawad, the family jewellery business founded by David Mouawad in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1891. Fred formed Synergia One, which seeks to exploit synergies across the portfolio.

The group has diverse capabilities in managing different phases of an organisation from incubating its own startups to mergers & acquisitions (M&As). Synergia One currently operates in 15 countries and operates in the following industries: diamonds, jewellery and watches, food services, food manufacturing, logistics, publishing, trade shows, and information technology (IT).

Fred is clear about how he is actively charting the group’s legacy. “It’s about constantly seeking to improve on what we have while continuing to honour the heritage that brought us to where we are today. It’s a process of being open, of listening and learning, to what is happening in the world today and the possibilities of what can happen in the future, and of collaborating and sharing ideas with our management team and with the co-guardians, not only with the fourth generation, my brothers Alain and Pascal, but also the fifth generation that is now coming onboard. Our vision encompasses emphasising on our family legacy and heritage, empowering femininity, and crafting the extraordinary,” he says.

Fred considers himself to be a daydreamer. “I love dreaming about what might be possible. I like identifying opportunities and the creative process of how the dream can be realised from the creation of the name, the design of the logo, to a full launch. My favourite part is from conception to execution. Once the venture reaches maturity my excitement wanes. Frequent daydreaming is an essential part of my days — I often do it over a 10-minute coffee break. It allows me the time to relax, reflect, and let my mind wander. This is how great ideas can be born and then acted on,” he says.

His leadership skills were shaped at an early age. “At the age of 21, I had just graduated from college, and I arrived in Bangkok, Thailand, where I took over as General Manager (GM) of the Mouawad factory, responsible for 300 employees. This was the biggest learning experience I could have hoped for. I worked in every department, putting in long hours every day to make sure I was armed with the knowledge and expertise required to lead and drive continuous improvements. I started at the top, but I quickly placed myself at the bottom to learn most roles in the factory. Mastering the details enabled me to work with the rest of the team to identify opportunities and drive change,” he says.

He devised a 22-point quality mechanism, which is an industry gold standard. “When I first started managing our jewellery factory in Bangkok, I was fascinated by how to achieve the highest possible quality for our jewels. I came up with the motto ‘quality is our priority’. I then understood that for quality to be achieved we had to make sure that we were producing it every step of the way. Not at the end of the process, as this increases rework and often defects cannot be fixed once the product is completed. The best way to proceed is to make sure we meet the highest standards at every stage of the manufacturing process. This is how I devised a 22-point quality control system that is still used to date,” he says.

Fred is clear about the attributes required to be a successful diamantaire. “It’s important to have know-how, passion, courage, and the ability to assess risk. When buying an exceptionally rough diamond or coloured gemstone, there is a lot at stake. The outcome is never certain, and a mistake can lead to a significant financial loss. Our tagline of ‘crafting the extraordinary’ relates to our passion for daring to procure, design and create exceptional jewels. As well as these attributes, integrity and ethical practices are an essential prerequisite. Our reputation is our most important asset,” he says.

So, does he have time for his own indulgences? “More recently, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic, I have tried to make more time for myself, and I’m in the process of trying to find more balance between my professional and personal life. Now, I exercise and cycle frequently, which is not only important for my physical well-being but essential for my mental health. To lead, we need to first make sure we are mentally fit, so we’re able to support others,” he says.

He explains the connection between Spencer, a new film that documented the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival last September, and Mouawad.  “With our renowned heritage as a jeweller to royalty, we were invited to collaborate on this project and to provide the jewellery that was worn by Princess Diana in the film. Among the items was a stunning blue sapphire and diamond engagement ring that closely resembled the iconic engagement ring of Princess Diana, as well as a spectacular pearl necklace and pearl and diamond earrings that evoked her status as a fashion icon whose sense of style transcends time,” he says.

He also cites the successful tie-up between Mouawad and Emirati designer Salama Khalfan. “It was an extremely successful collaboration. It’s rare in the jewellery industry to find such collaborations. So, I think it showcased the beautiful alchemy that occurs when jewellers unite. As a headpiece using date palm tree leaves, it had a special resonance with the culture in the Arabian Gulf. It was also an excellent opportunity to highlight the artistry involved in jewellery by showcasing the piece at the Abu Dhabi Art event,” he adds.

Mouawad has boutiques in Dubai, Riyadh, Jeddah, Doha, Kuala Lumpur, Bahrain and in the Robert Mouawad Museum in Beirut. A new boutique will be opened in Hong Kong at the historic Peninsula hotel later this year and another one at the Peninsula in London early next year.

Fred says, “The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) market continues to be a strong market for Mouawad. We adapted to the challenges of Covid-19, always placing the emphasis on the safety and well-being of our employees and our customers. Looking ahead, we are excited to be launching our e-commerce site this summer. Our flagship collection ‘Flower of Eternity’ will be available online across the GCC. This will make our brand a lot more accessible,” he signs off.

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