Posts tagged VAK jewellery

A typical display case at Jewellery Arabia, which this year was held in Bahrain on the 21st-26th November.

The 26th edition of Jewellery Arabia was held in the International Conference Centre of Bahrain from the 21st-26th November 2017.  This is the biggest jewellery show in the region, attracting over 50000 visitors from around the globe and is one of the very few that sells to the public as well as the trade.  Over 500 exhibitors took part, showcasing everything from loose gems to fantastic pieces of high jewellery.

There were prices for everyone too- with diamond set jewellery starting from as little as $100 to breathtaking unique pieces valued at several million.  The European jewellery contingent was well represented by big names such as Boucheron, Faberge and Boghossian.  The strongest representation of course was from the Middle East, with family owned Mattar Jewellers and Al Zain Jewellers nestling alongside independent Bahraini designers such as Azza Al Hujairi.  It was my first time exhibiting in the Middle East at the invitation of Azza.  The entire experience was a pleasure- the Barhainis simply could not have been kinder or more charming and there is a real sense of fellowship amongst the jewellery community there.  This is in marked contrast to London, where designers tend to be more reserved.

The economic climate was, however, challenging.  There were fewer big spenders from Saudi Arabi and those that showed spent cautiously.  This is no doubt a consequence of the anti corruption crackdown currently being conducted by the Saudi Crown Prince.  The sanctions against Qatar meant that they could not attend and there is general economic uncertainty created by the ongoing troubles in the Yemen.

None of this, however, deterred the exhibitors from putting on a magnificent display of colour and craftsmanship.  There were three designers in particular that caught my eye and my mentioning them is purely subjective- I just thought they had really lovely things. 

1.     Nikos Koulis

This was the Greek designer’s second showing at Jewellery Arabia.  His style struck me as very much neo Art Deco: beautiful, richly coloured stones with strong colour contrasts and clean lines. 

Emerald, diamond and black enamel earrings by Nikps Koulis.

Ruby, diamond and black enamel ring by Nikos Koulis.

2.     VAK Diamonds

This brand is the brainchild of Vishal Kathari, who is descended from a long line of jewellers.  I met Vishal at Baselworld earlier this year and was very much taken by the limpid, clear quality of his rose cut diamonds in their inventive light-as-a-feather settings.

Opal, diamond and pink sapphire ring by VAK diamonds.

Diamond jewellery by VAK in its signature light-as-a-feather setting.

3.     Mattar Jewelers

The pearl knowledge of this family is several generations old.  Of the current generation, four out of the five siblings are involved in the family business.  The eldest brother, Talal Mattar told me that he was encouraged to go and play with pearls in the family workshop from the age of 6- you cannot beat knowledge like this.  The sumptuousness and creaminess of their pearls is astonishing and cannot be captured in photographs.

Pearl and diamond tassel earrings by Mattar Jewelers.

Pearl necklace by Mattar Jewelers.  The quality of their pearls is impossible to convey photographically.


Jewels in the Art Deco style and strong colours were the order of the day at Basel in 2017.

Jewels in the Art Deco style and strong colours were the order of the day at Basel in 2017.

It was enormous fun visiting the Basel Jewellery Fair in Switzerland this year after not having been for 10 years.  Basel brings together a huge variety of brands and gem dealers and along with the Hong Kong and Tucson shows it is one of the most important dates in the jewellery calendar.  The standard of goods exhibited is incredibly high and sets the benchmark for standards in the industry.


Textured rose gold and rose cut diamonds are artfully put together in this ring by VAK.

Textured rose gold and rose cut diamonds are artfully put together in this ring by VAK.

An exceptional carved ruby and diamond watch by Graff.

An exceptional carved ruby and diamond watch by Graff.

Alongside the huge global brands such as Graff and Chopard Basel is also a showcase for smaller, lesser known brands.  There is a vast amount of talent and individuality, but within this it was possible to discern some direction and tendencies (I detest the word trends when talking about jewellery).  The one I loved seeing the most was the comeback of carved stones, particularly rubies and emeralds.  This craft reached its apogee in moghul India during the 18th century; it was a craft that was in danger of dying out, but some fine examples of modern carved stones were set in the creations of Graff and Bayco.  Exceptional new carved gems were also being offered by some of the gem dealers. 

Carved gemstones are making a comeback as exemplified in this emerald and diamond set by Bayco.


I love the use of flowers as a source of inspiration as much as the next designer; however, there were so many new floral motifs in so many collections that it is in danger of becoming an overused, overexposed element.  There was a lot of neo Art Deco jewellery.  The pieces I saw, such as those by Maria Gaspari and Cicada, had clearly had a lot of thought put onto them in terms of proportion and structure.


Diamonds are also being used in clever, inventive ways- there was some beautiful jewellery using chains of briolette cut diamonds which I am sure are going to become as ubiquitous as Tiffany’s Diamonds by the Yard chains.  Pieces set with rose cut diamonds are also proliferating as the appetite for vintage and antique looking pieces grows.  Rose cut diamonds are now far more readily available than they were 10 years ago as Indian manufacturers rediscover their old lapidary skills. 


It was lovely to see gold finishes and colour being experimented with- Carrera y Carrera had some lovely pieces on show, as did VAK, who had also incorporated rose cut diamonds into his matte, rose gold jewels.  It was also refreshing to observe diamond cuts being mixed up in the same piece- gone seem to be the days of rather dull layouts of round or marquise cut diamonds as emerald, round and cushion are creatively juxtaposed.

Within the gem dealers there was the usual fantastic array of world class stones.  Nothing of quality really is inexpensive any more-the opening up of the Eastern market and consequent demand has seen the prices of intensely coloured goods absolutely rocket- especially well saturated Paraiba tourmalines, rubellites, pink topazes and aquamarines.  A stone which for me has been under appreciated is clearly having an upturn: the spinel.  Stones of beautiful hue and brightness are being extracted from Africa and I hope it won’t be too long before we see more of it in mainstream jewellery. 

Exceptional sapphire and diamond bracelet by Maria Gaspari.