MEANINGFUL DESIGNS AND ARABIC ORIGINS

The Middle East is home to many successful brands, and Damas Jewellery is one of them. With a strong presence in the region, we explore their history and plans for the future.

Stories are part of everyone’s life and brands that build their legacy with a solid path, evolving with the years, are the ones we usually want to relate to and carry close to our hearts. That’s what Damas Jewellery has been doing to establish itself as a well-known name in the Jewellery scenario in the region. A brand that was born more than 100 years ago, in 1907, it has built a beautiful story over the years, creating connections with its clientele and understanding their ever-changing desires over the past century.

We’ve taken a brief look at Damas’ legacy. In 1959, the jewellery house opened its original store at the Gold Souq in Dubai, the first of many. Well-known for its precious natural pearls, the Gulf region attracted a lot of attention and Damas is one of the names that helped it become a reference for these frosted little beads. The year 1973 marked the arrival of the label’s first diamond cutting machine for producing diamond-cut bangles and wedding bands. After two years, they introduced Italian-made diamond jewellery to the market and a new era of luxury began. In 1988 it was time to step up their game, with the launch of more lines such as Damas Classics, Vera, OneSixEight and Farfasha. The 2000s saw the label expand through the MENA region. In 2021, a new concept was born, the Bayt Damas. The impressive space is a lifestyle destination that brings together limited-edition luxurious jewellery pieces, art and fashion. All under one roof, creating a sophisticated home for creativity and craftsmanship.

Lots of other remarkable achievements took place during this period, but the truth is that they all led Damas to become an established label with its eversought-after and unparalleled opulent Arabian aesthetic. They developed the astuteness of understanding their customers and their wishes with collections that suit the Middle Eastern culture and traditions, bringing, in recent years, a contemporary twist for those looking for edgy and modern pieces. Damas is today one of the most recognisable jewellers in the Middle East, with over 150 locations. A triumph that not many brands can celebrate.

Two years ago, Damas embarked on a transformational journey with the motto of ‘from the region to the region’. Reinforcing its status as a house of jewellery design rooted in the Middle East, it now offers today’s women a unique customer experience. As part of this revamping process, they are consolidating their DNA and long-established storytelling skills. However, evolving is part of the process, and without losing their Arabic heritage and identity, they are investing in design-led collections based on worldwide and local jewellery trends – always keeping the Arab woman as the main inspiration, offering creations that instil happiness, empowerment and confidence.

The brand provides authenticity and creative designs that genuinely represent the intrinsic heritage of the Arabic culture mixed with trendy elements. The creations are locals’ favourite picks, but expats who want to take a piece of the region with them currently choose Damas pieces that will become heirlooms and pass from generation to generation together with the stories of a life lived in the desert.

The Power of Growing

During the opening of the new Damas Jewellery store, the OHLALA team had the chance to talk to CEO, Luc Perramond, about his role in the brand’s transformation.

“We want to create jewellery collections that have a strong affinity with the tastes and preferences of our clients.”

LUC PERRAMOND

OHLALA – You have had an extensive career in the luxury world, mainly in the jewellery and watch fields. How do you see your experience reflected in the work you are developing at Damas since you joined the company in 2020?
Luc Perramond –
 I think my experience has been very helpful because Damas has been on a transformation journey. The work that I have done with big luxury names previously has given me the necessary background, especially, I would say, with my experience at Hermès. I was with them for six years. My knowledge is really helping to transform the Damas brand, build the equity, build the image and create a DNA that is desirable for our customers individually.

OHLALA – What key aspects do you want to highlight at Damas? What are the most important core values of the brand?
Luc –
 When I joined Damas, I did some research. I spoke with our clients and asked them: What does Damas stand for, for you today? And the answer was very consistent. It was quality, service and trust. Because we have a long-lasting relationship with our customers and they trust us, they trust the brand. A crucial aspect in the jewellery field, because when you buy a diamond, you want to make sure the brand stands behind it. These are core values which are very important, but we needed to add the values of creativity and innovation. Because the brand is well-known and well-liked, still, it was a bit classical, conservative and conventional. We had to bring a new dimension of creativity and innovation to the products, stores and customer experience to build desirability, as the key requirement in our business is to be desirable. We want our customers to connect with the label and, to do that, we need to bring newness to product design, in the way of wearing the jewellery, the use of colours and the storytelling. And we need stores which also express our identity, spaces that are comfortable but modern and elegant at the same time.

OHLALA – What distinguishes Damas from other jewellery houses?
Luc –
 I believe that the USP (Unique Selling Proposition) for Damas is very clear. We are from the Middle East, for the Middle East. Our roots are here; the brand started in Damascus in 1907. And then we developed the business from Dubai into the UAE, then all of the GCC, over the years. But our USP is that our roots are in the Middle East and we understand the Arab customer. Our primary customers today are local Arabs or Arab expats. And we know them better than anybody. We want to create jewellery collections that have a strong affinity with the tastes and preferences of our clients. To connect with them subtly but also deeply, we want them to feel that all we do is for them. Many of our collections are inspired by Arabic architecture, the mosque dome, the Arabic alphabet and lace. So, a lot of stories, a lot of inspiration come from Arabic culture. And therefore, I think it resonates very well with our customers; they can identify themselves and connect with Damas.

OHLALA – In a few words, can you tell us the transformation that Damas has gone through as a brand in the past years?
Luc –
 The past two years have been very exciting. We have taken the brand through a very fast reinvention and transformation in all aspects, where you have to ensure that everything is consistent. For instance, we decided that all creations should be developed in-house with our team of designers. So, every collection is exclusive to Damas. We don’t sell generic jewellery that you can find anywhere – each of them comes with original storytelling. And then there is the store design and you also have to think of the staff; they need to be trained and understand the brand’s vision. It’s a lot of work to build a good experience for the client. We also believe in the power of communication – you need to reach out to all your clients. We have several million customers in the Middle East. We are a big brand with a footprint of more than 150 stores. So, communication is key. We are very active in all social media channels, whether Instagram, Facebook or TikTok. We have 1.3 million followers and the engagement rate is very high. They follow us, they like our content and we communicate in a very intensive way with them. We now have more younger clients and more women who buy for themselves. We used to sell Damas products as gifts, but now we see that women buy for themselves. They are empowered; they are independent and much younger.

OHLALA – How do you see the jewellery market in the region, and what are Damas’ plans for the future?
Luc –
 The jewellery market is very promising. I think it’s a growing category. Especially branded jewellery will continue to grow faster than non-branded options. And that’s why it’s important to strengthen our brand, to show that Damas is a powerful name. And to be more and more desirable because people want the brand to stand behind the product. And that’s the future, which is wonderful for us because we are a regional brand; there is no competition. And we offer a great alternative to all the international brands. We have a unique position to take. We will continue to have this more elevated kind of offer for our clients; we will roll out our new concept, open new stores and be very creative product-wise. Last year, we started launching two new collections every month. We are very active in terms of creativity. It’s important to surprise our clients and bring them new designs, new offerings, new ways to wear the jewellery, new colours, etc. We build new stories all the time. Our competitors might introduce two lines every year – we do two every month!

OHLALA – How do you see the jewellery market in the region, and what are Damas’ plans for the future?
Luc –
The jewellery market is very promising. I think it’s a growing category. Especially branded jewellery will continue to grow faster than non-branded options. And that’s why it’s important to strengthen our brand, to show that Damas is a powerful name. And to be more and more desirable because people want the brand to stand behind the product. And that’s the future, which is wonderful for us because we are a regional brand; there is no competition. And we offer a great alternative to all the international brands. We have a unique position to take. We will continue to have this more elevated kind of offer for our clients; we will roll out our new concept, open new stores and be very creative product-wise. Last year, we started launching two new collections every month. We are very active in terms of creativity. It’s important to surprise our clients and bring them new designs, new offerings, new ways to wear the jewellery, new colours, etc. We build new stories all the time. Our competitors might introduce two lines every year – we do two every month!

THE CREATIVE SET

To get an insight into the jewellery creation process, we spoke to Myreine Massih, Damas Group Marketing, Communication & Creative Director.

OHLALA – How do you balance all the positions that you hold in Damas? And, from your point of view, how are they related?
Myreine Massih –
 The way I see it, marketing, communication, and creativity/design are intrinsically related. It all starts with the client’s desires and needs, concerns and behaviours. The design comes next, bringing to our clientele expert craftsmanship using the most exquisite materials. Communication and marketing follow, catering to our audience on all online and offline platforms and making sure their wishes for their jewellery and personal lives are reflected both in the product as well as in the story, inspiration and creative direction. I am able to balance all of these aspects well because I realise this and I aim to merge the three by ensuring that all our messages and creations are aligned, reflecting Damas’ vision and values and having the client at their very core.

OHLALA – Do you believe that your strong managing skills and communication awareness help to give focus to your creative director role? Would you say that the creations end up closer to customers’ expectations?
Myreine –
 Absolutely. My management style is reflective of my passion for the ever-climbing success of Damas as a brand, the industry and the clients, of course. I aim to ensure that Damas functions are like a well-oiled ship, giving each person in the company the freedom to express themselves and bring their well-earned experience and expertise to the core of our designs and communication. Where our creations do not fulfil our clients’ expectations, they go above and beyond, bringing a distinct edge in terms of the overall brand experience and the products themselves. For example, we have introduced the first evolved diamond to the region, starting from a diamond seed and developed in a lab, to bring clients a taste of the future and scientific advances. I can list so many other areas and cases in which we have surpassed clients’ expectations, thanks to our continual striving for excellence, innovation and industry disruption.

OHLALA – Can you tell us about Damas’ collections and what they stand for? What is your main source of inspiration?
Myreine –
 At its core, our main source of inspiration for all our collections is, put quite simply, women and everything they represent. We believe that women of the world and the region deserve to be continuously celebrated and their achievements acknowledged as ones that are not only necessarily in theory, but also intrinsically linked to the advancement of society and the world. We aim to give the modern woman, with all our designs and creations, a reason to celebrate, feel precious, special and empowered – to feel their best and be the most authentic, genuine and elevated version of themselves and carry these feelings of empowerment with them in all their endeavours. To name a few of our latest collections, we have Farfasha, Dome, Lace, Gaia and, our most iconic, Alif.

OHLALA – Can you describe each collection?
Myreine – 
Farfasha is a legacy collection – celebrating femininity with every new iteration. Its source of inspiration is nature, with all its radiant and soft colours and elements. The latest Farfasha line uses the Arfaj flower, also known as the daisy of the desert. Dome is a richly diverse collection, inspiring awe and wonder with its dome-shaped, diamondencrusted pieces and reflections of the region’s majestic and heritage buildings, palaces and mosques. Lace is another of our most well-loved designs, representing the intricacies and underlying architecture present in nature and Arabic culture. Gaia is our evolved diamond collection, originating from a diamond seed and developed in a lab, preserving all the top indicators of quality: cut, clarity, colour and carat. A truly innovative diamond, Gaia aims to bring to our clients supreme quality without the environmental toll of mining. Following the GIA standards and certified by HRD, Gaia is a diamond for the future-minded among us. Finally, Alif is our most iconic flagship collection. Inspired by the first letter of the alphabet and representing the origin and beginning of all things, Alif is our core collection, symbolising women’s empowerment and independence.

OHLALA – How essential is it to Damas to promote women’s empowerment? Is it one of the aspects of the brand’s values?
Myreine –
 Damas’ core vision is to make women feel empowered, unique and exquisite, we are able to achieve that thanks to our understanding of women’s goals, dreams and desires. We believe that happy, confident and strong women are the future. We aim to make women feel better and express themselves with expertly crafted jewellery using the most coveted and luxurious materials. In the same vein, we aim to become the ultimate house of jewellery design in the Middle East and continue delivering an unparalleled customer-centric experience, from product design to retention. Similarly, we intend to delight all women with our collections, conceiving and crafting them with stories of real women in mind. Each new edition and iteration of our jewellery addresses a different aspect and quality of women, who remain our main source of inspiration in all that we do. As the choice house of jewellery design from the region for the region, we believe our edge is in understanding and catering to Arab women exceptionally well.

@damasjewellery

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