ALONGSIDE SINGAPORE AND Hong Kong, Dubai’s reputation for custom tailoring is one of the most enticing aspects of the city for those who wish to shun the ‘off-the-rack’ experience and venture into the more personalised fashion realm. We absolutely love it. The creativity exuding from various designs not only shows off the wearer’s individuality, it can provide inspiration for those looking to get in on the act. The same notion, courtesy of companies like TT Custom, can be said about cars and motorbikes. You now have the opportunity to drive something truly unique.
So why is jewellery not included in the same bracket? We’re a nation filled with gold souks, gem stores and online promotions for investing in precious metals. Why do we so readily settle for others’ creations when it comes to the bangles we wear? While jewellery stores across the land do offer beautiful pieces, surely the ultimate expression of affection (if you’re going for an engagement ring), bling (anything with iceberg size diamonds) or just a way to show off is to point to the item when someone asks where it’s from and say, ‘it’s bespoke’.
This is the thinking behind jewellery brand La Marquise’s custom service right here in Dubai. While purveying lovely pieces in their showrooms here and all over the world, their factory at the Gemplex near Jumeirah Lakes Towers will also take care of everything you need to create your one-off masterpiece. From helping with the design, to 3D rendering through to the final polishing, no job is too big or too small for the crack team of professionals. Time limits are also variable with an order, if so needed, completed in a day or two depending on the complexity and size.
“Dubai is known as the city of gold. Fewer people know it is also the city of Diamonds,” director of branding communications Julian Serrao told us as we sat in an office just off the busy factory floor, tens of thousands of precious stones and kilos of expensive metal just through the next door. ” We decided to set up our only manufacturing unit here because it’s safe and it’s easy in Dubai. It’s right in the centre of the world meaning there are a lot of people coming through simply to purchase jewellery.”
Julian said the majority of business is done in the wholesale trading of jewels and precious metal, although the retail side has expanded exponentially in the last few years. La Marquise has gone from two to 14 stores worldwide. And then we came to the reason we were there, why making your own jewellery makes sense.
“What we try and do is educate the customer. We have a lot of male customers coming in asking for engagement rings. They have done a lot of stressful research alone. What we do is have people here that can tell you exactly what is available for your budget, how much time it will take and you get to give your input on the design meaning no other ring is like yours anywhere in the world.
“The whole experience should be luxurious and comfortable. If you come to the showrooms or even down here to the factory. You’re part of the jewellery-making process. You’re part of the team.
Julian’s top reason for the custom route
“My CEO will be here three hours a day just overlooking the pieces. That’s the unofficial seventh check on everything. Quality control is what is so important to us and what we’re proud of.”
So what’s involved?
We went round the factory with manager, Bankim Sanghavi, to see exactly what goes into making your pieces.
DESIGN – MANUAL & 3D CAD-CAM
In order to produce a unique piece, the initial step is to create a design, this is the point from where the magic begins. Our very talented designers, who then make a manual sketch of the design, conceptualise an idea of the end product. The final design is a result of close cooperation between the manual designers and CAD designers, moving the pieces from two dimensional to three dimensional.
This step involves selection of the ideal material for the design: what type of metal and which stones to use.
The selected metal is melted in order to start the jewellery-making process.
Casting is a very complex process and requires upmost skilled and experienced casters for the desired final product. The wax replicas are placed in steel containers, which are then occupied with investment powder, and the containers are heated in a hot chamber, which solidifies the powder and melts the wax leaving behind a perfect effect. Liquefied metal is then poured into the flasks and allowed to cool then demolished to reveal the jewellery in casting form
Filing is an essential technique in jewellery making. Filing removes excess metal, evens out the surfaces and makes the jewellery smooth.
Every part must be polished while the mount is being made. The entire mount is carefully made clean and polished to the highest degree of smoothness.
DIAMOND/ STONE BAGGING/PICKING
After the product has passed polishing, it has to undergo the setting process. Before that, the required stones of the correct size and weight are cut and made with extreme precision and are then assorted for the final setting.
The craftsmen manually set in the diamonds and gems into the metal. The setting process involves individual hand as well and micro setting – done under a microscope.
The jewellery then goes through a final polishing process to smooth out any rough edges.
After the final polishing, the jewellery is brought to the control unit where each piece is examined with excessive attention and thoroughly checked for any defects. The Quality Assurance team makes note of any shortcomings and ensure they are rectified before final passing.
Quality check is carried out at every stage to ensure that the jewellery
is damage and defect free.