Pascal Mouawad, of the famed Mouawad jewellery house, tells Aficionado all about the family business and the trio of siblings currently at its helm.
Founded in Lebanon in 1890, the house Mouawad made its name as jeweller to royal families in the Near East, but now counts Hollywood elite such as Angelina Jolie and Uma Thurman as clientele. In 2010, Robert Mouawad passed on the company’s reins to his sons, Alain, Fred and Pascal. The brothers are the fourth-generation family members to lead the business.
Pascal, who is known by the world’s media as the celebrity jewellery designer, is very much a man committed to his multi-billion-dollar family business.
“I was born in this family, and my father, who is from the third generation, is someone who I look up to. He is really the man who drove the company to the level of success that we have today – taking over from his father and turning a two-boutique operation into a multinational, multi-city business,” he tells Aficionado.
“Having always looked at my father’s hard work, I knew that, one day, my brothers and I would be involved in the business. I never really thought of anything else. I was always told by my father that one day, you and your brothers will be in charge, and so I am going to groom you into being in the jewellery and watch business,” he explains.
Pascal reminisces about holidays at factories, where his father sat them behind goldsmiths’ desks, sorting diamonds and even setting jewels onto creations, or made them watch factories to see how they all worked together; very aware of the fact that, one day, he would be part of this business. But it wasn’t just about learning the tricks of the trade; it was about making the best use of it. So he studied and earned an MBA in business administration and finance to really understand what it takes to run a company.
“I am really very proud that, today, I am actually in charge of the retail division. My father retired a few years ago, so now, my brothers and I are in full control of the business, and we are very happy. We have transformed from a multi-brand to a mono-brand, and we had some very qualified designers and architects to help us redesign our stores and create a new identity – this is really the new generation. We have opened quite a few boutiques in the last three years, we are looking to open more and expand internationally, and so, it is a big challenge for the fourth generation to take what our father has given us to the next level.
“We were known to be a brand for jewellery to royalty and celebrities – people looked up to Mouawad and thought it was too pricey – and so, what we have done since we took over in 2010, is to tell the world, yes, we have inspirational masterpieces that cost a million dollars and more, but we are very strong in the boutique range, which is from $50,000 down to $2,000,” Pascal explains. “We are not intimidating; if you see our stores, our doors are wide open with no bodyguard behind. That new concept has enabled us to generate more sales and acquire new customers.”
“Since we took over the family business, our number-one priority was to have a strong foothold in the entire GCC market and the Middle East. We have closed down non-performing boutiques and opened in different locations. In real estate, sometimes you start somewhere considered to be a good location and then, over the years, you’re suddenly in a bad one. We also wanted to make sure we were present in every key city as well – now, in Dubai for instance, we are in Dubai Mall, and we just signed a lease to be in the Palm Mall. We’ve also opened our boutique in Abu Dhabi. Granted, there is always room to have more, but we feel that we are now very close to having achieved our objective of being present in the entire region.”
Their father was also the person behind the famed Robergé brand that was set up in 1970, and son Alain followed in his footsteps with his own watch brand called Blacksand, and it led to the birth of the Mouawad Watch Division. The first line of luxury watches to carry the Mouawad signature was a collection of distinctive chronographs – the Grande Ellipse – and a collection of ladies quartz watches – La Griffe, made by master watchmakers at their Swiss workshops in Les Breuleux and Carouge.
“My brother Alain, who is the co-guardian of our watch division, was raised in Geneva. He is a watch connoisseur and is the man behind the vision, driving the creative team to come up with designs and with a master plan over the next three to five years to introduce a series of novelties in the existing range of watches, in addition to some additional new collections,” Pascal adds, admitting that he never leaves home without a watch, and his favourite collection still remains Mouawad’s launch Grande Ellipse, which includes the Royale, Sport and the Sport Ville editions.
The watches, which are 100 per cent Swiss made, sport movements that have been bought by the house, but Pascal reveals they are currently investing to bring their own in-house movements to the market as early as next year.
“Our watches are fairly exclusive, as our production is limited to 2,000 pieces a year,” he explains. “We are not looking to appeal to a mass-market audience. Our watches are sold only in our own boutiques for the simple reason that we want to maintain and