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The power of social media: How By Sarah Jewellery from Bahrain hit a note across the GCC

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Sarah Al Fayez has tapped into Instagram during the pandemic to take her brand from one region to the whole of Middle East

Tell us about your brand. When did it start and how has the journey been?

The very first piece I designed was for a very close friend. Her 30th birthday was coming up and I had wanted to make her a special gift to mark the occasion.  I was working with my mother at her jewellery store at the time, but mostly dealt with the administrative side of things. However, I had always been more interested in creative work.  I decided to design my friend’s initials in a unique form, depending on curves to make it more feminine.  I included 7 pieces of her birthstones to represent her fate number, making the piece even more personal.

This was in July of 2012, it wasn’t meant to be the beginning of a brand or business, but it prompted enough orders to push me to consider starting a brand of my own.  In May of 2015, By Sarah Jewellery was officially launched. 

The journey has been good, with continuous interest, despite the difficult period we all faced with the lockdown of 2020.  Sales did halt for a while, as with most business worldwide, but fortunately things picked up again.

Talk to us about your operations in the Middle East.

My brand grew through Instagram, which has allowed me to sell to most countries around the world, but mainly to the countries of the GCC.  Most of my customers are from Bahrain where I am based, as well as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE and Oman.  

Are there any specific trends that you notice in the Middle East? What kind of designs do you concentrate on to cater to this need?

The current trend is more towards traditional 21K and 22K gold jewellery.  People seem to be going back to collecting traditionally designed gold pieces.  This may be due to its higher resale value, especially considering the difficult financial period most have gone through since the pandemic started.

I haven’t been affected by this much, as my pieces are on the more affordable side of the fine jewellery spectrum, and so I have not felt the need to cater to this trend.

The Middle East is the hub of jewellery. How has your brand worked here and how do you plan to branch out?

My brand has done very well in the Middle East so far.  With the help of Instagram, I have been able to reach and sell to many different countries, within the Middle East and beyond. However, I do plan to eventually branch out into stores so that my pieces can be better appreciated and exposed to even more people, whether in the Middle East or elsewhere.

Talk to us about your collections. Which of these have done especially well in the pandemic scenario, especially in the Middle East? What price points do well here?

The initial collection has remained the bestseller, but all collections have done well. Sometimes certain collections become more in demand than others, but the initials are always a constant.  The last collections I launched, the Zodiac collection, has gotten a lot of attention lately as well, and sold very well within the GCC region.

In terms of price points, items between $500 and $1000 do very well.

Is there any precious stone or metal that finds itself as a signature in your designs?

The readily available jewellery I have is all in 18K gold; yellow, rose and white. I do make some custom pieces in silver upon request, usually for men for religious reasons.  As for stones, most of my pieces have one diamond which is my special signature on each piece.  The pieces that don’t have it are either meant to be without any stones, or already include a coloured stone.

Also, the coloured stones I use always hold meaning, whether they are the customer’s birthstone, or signify a certain meaning or message.

What kind of jewellery, metal and precious gemstones, in your opinion, have done well in the Middle East?

As I mentioned, currently the trend seems to be traditional 21K and 22K gold jewellery, however, there is still a market for 18K gold jewellery. My pieces in particular are still of interest as they are easy to wear and more personal, which also makes them a very thoughtful gift option.  This allows my brand to transcend any passing trends.

With regards to gemstones, diamonds are still what the majority are looking for. Interest in coloured gemstones is slowly increasing amongst those who have more knowledge about them, but the majority of customers only seem to appreciate diamonds. 

Are there any roadblocks you face while operating in the Middle East? If yes, what are they and how would you want the administration, retailers, manufacturers, and the whole of the jewellery fraternity to address them?

For me, the initial roadblocks I faced where with shipping. It was previously difficult to ship abroad, but thankfully, courier companies have addressed the problem and made it possible to reach our customers, wherever they may be. 

I can imagine that there will be more roadblocks ahead as I continue to expand my business. 

What are your plans for the future in the Middle East?  Do you see any difference in the operational measures pre and post pandemic? If yes, how have you changed and evolved?

I plan to be readily available in more stores in the Middle East and beyond.  Now, as the pandemic seems to easing, it is becoming possible to achieve that.

As I already mentioned, the pandemic pushed courier companies to be more accommodating and have thus made shipping jewellery much easier to do.  This has allowed my brand to reach farther than it ever has.

Courtesy: Retail Jeweller World News

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