Once Pascal became one of Mouawad’s three co-guardians, he wanted to ensure the family jewellery empire that had caught the attention of monarchs from around the world became synonymous with Hollywood royalty too. Fast forward to 2017, after all the collaborations and fostering of friendships, his clientele list has included the likes of Nicole Kidman, Heidi Klum and Angelina Jolie.
We chat to Pascal about running the Retail Division of the 127-year-old company that creates extravagant jewels and watches, fashion accessories and objects of art, as well as ethically sourcing the most precious stones. We also talk to the Lebanese Gemological Institute of America and Harvard Business School graduate about breaking world records and those tight connections with A-list celebrities.
You were born into a family renowned in the jewellery world. What are the best and hardest things about that?
My father’s affinity and passion for jewellery has definitely been passed down to my brothers and me. It was certainly an immense privilege and, at the same time, a great responsibility to take over the leadership of the family business in 2010. We all have such a strong bond and our roles truly complement each other – Fred is the co-guardian of the Diamond division, Alain heads the Watch division, and I have taken over as co-guardian of the Retail division – and each of us brings his unique business acumen and creativity to the brand.
I would say our main challenge was, and still is, to continue the brand journey and chart a direction into the future while building upon the founding blocks of our past. In other words, it’s all about truly understanding our heritage, our DNA, and figuring how best to write the history of the company going into the future. Another challenge would probably be our hectic schedules, which makes for a bit less time for us to see each other. We are based in different countries, but we still manage to meet, whether for work or for family reunions.
The company has a signature “Flower of Eternity” emblem. Tell us about that.
The “Flower of Eternity” was the first main collection that we created as the fourth generation of Mouawad. It was inspired by the romance and secret language of flowers in years gone by, when a gift of a single stem or bouquet of blooms would convey a secret meaning. We brought a contemporary vision to this cherished tradition through the “Flower of Eternity” emblem, which combines three hearts, each symbolising a message of the past, present and future. As one flower, it represents eternal love, passion and fidelity. The result is a selection of iconic pieces, from simple pendants to ornate four-piece sets, perfect for every mood from daytime chic to dazzling evening sophistication, with of course, a beautiful hidden message. It is a collection that has resonated deeply with our clientele and continues to be one of our most popular.
'Le Soleil' yellow diamond set
It appeared on the “Flower of Eternity Jewellery Coffer,” which earned a Guinness World Record as the world’s most valuable jewellery box. What went into making that?
“The Flower of Eternity Jewellery Coffer” took weeks of hard work by dozens of Mouawad designers and artisans. It is an absolute work of art that we are extremely proud of. Crafted using 18-karat gold and sterling silver, the coffer features a profusion of 542.39 carat of white and yellow diamonds, 293.24 carat of white and pink sapphires, 20.06 carat of rubies and 1,799.75 carat of lapis lazuli, with a total stone weight of 2,655.44 carat.
It was an extreme honour to be awarded this Guinness World Record, and it is in fact the fifth world record that Mouawad has achieved since 1990. We’ve previously been awarded for creating the most valuable necklace in the world, the “L’Incomparable” diamond necklace, in addition to the most valuable handbag in the world, the “Mouawad 1001 Nights Diamond Purse.” Plus, we were feted for creating the most expensive piece of lingerie ever made, the “Very Sexy Fantasy Bra,” as well as the most expensive single pear-shaped diamond in the world, the “Mouawad Splendor.”
Are there any other special projects or designs in the pipeline?
Our creative team at Mouawad is constantly coming up with new, contemporary jewellery designs. As a diamond house, our jewellery is crafted with the finest-quality diamonds and coloured stones, sourced from conflict-free countries around the world.
Our latest masterpieces include “The Divine Muzo Pears” suite, which features five breath-taking pear-shaped Colombian emeralds from Muzo mines. The most remarkable of recent designs, however, is “Le Soleil.” As its name – ‘the sun’– suggests, it is reminiscent of the rising morning sun, as each of its pieces foregrounds a rare fancy intense yellow diamond surrounded by icy white diamonds. As for upcoming projects, keep your eye out for our next Guinness World Record!
'Divine Muzo Pears' suite
So how do you approach a new piece or collection?
I believe travel would be my biggest source of inspiration. When you immerse yourself in exploration, it pushes your imagination and lifts creativity to new heights. Sometimes it is the great universal themes of life that inspire us for a new collection, such as the heart symbol for our “Flower of Eternity” collection, but quite often it is the stones themselves. The house of Mouawad has been sourcing the finest gems from around the world for the past 127 years, and the most dazzling examples naturally take centre stage in outstanding pieces designed to pay homage to their magnificence. I also believe in setting trends and not following them, it is about having a vision that can take the essence of the classic but give it a thoroughly contemporary feel, all while ensuring a timeless appeal. In terms of processes, we are vertically integrated, which means that we design, manufacture, and retail our own exclusive jewellery and timepieces; this gives us complete control over every aspect of what we do and is how we safeguard the quality for which we are renowned.
'Grand Eclipse Galaxy' timepiece
Which materials and techniques do you tend to favour?
I tend to favour modern and unique designs that suit today’s woman who deserves nothing less. At Mouawad, we only choose to work with the finest metals, gemstones and techniques to ensure the highest levels of craftsmanship. Diamonds, of course, have always been an important part of our story, our heritage, and continue to be so today, evidenced by our status as a De Beers DTC Sightholder, an exclusive privilege that bestows on Mouawad a direct and unique access to conflict-free rough diamonds. Our passion for gems does not stop with diamonds, though, and extends to all exceptional jewels. Being vertically integrated means that we have a full repertoire of skilled craftsmen, who are dedicated to bringing out the best of each stone. Combined with artistry and an implicit guarantee of quality, this craftsmanship is what I think draws our customers to us, it is all about the values inherent in the name Mouawad.
What’s your all-time favourite piece in your archive?
Personally, my all-time favourite would have to be the “Grand Ellipse Galaxy” timepiece. I see this model as superbly embodying so much of Mouawad’s heritage and craftsmanship, combining our prowess in watchmaking with our passion for diamonds. The “Grande Ellipse” line was our first launch for timepieces bearing the Mouawad signature in our tenure as fourth-generation guardians, and therefore it will always hold deep significance for us. When it comes to choosing a watch, for me it is more than just about movements and complications, it’s about wearing a piece that is timeless and masculine, something the “Grande Ellipse” excels at. Watches are a man’s best friend, just like diamonds are a girl’s best friend.
You dress and collaborate with some of Hollywood’s hottest stars. Is there someone you would really like to see wearing one of your creations?
We have dressed many top celebrities in the likes of Angelina Jolie and Nicole Kidman. I would love to dress award-winning actress Charlize Theron. She is the epitome of elegance and would absolutely stun in a Mouawad masterpiece.
Talking of stars, which jewellery moment in cinema stands out the most for you?
I would say the diamond necklace that Marilyn Monroe wore for her performance in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” This was a breakthrough moment for the world of jewellery and it left an undeniable impression that validated the claim of diamonds being a ‘girl’s best friend’.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned since you took over the family firm with your brothers in 2010?
Working in the diamond and jewellery industry is highly challenging. I would say that the most important value for me now is family, and I do not just mean blood relatives. The number one lesson I’ve learned over the past years is that family comes first, and that you can achieve anything with the right people by your side, those in whom you can utterly trust. Building an empire requires hard work and infinite dedication, but also high ethical standards, trust and relationships.