Fierce competition has been the catalyst for Mrs. Moussaieff, who has been steering the 160-year-old family business, from gem buying to sales, since her husband retired in 2004 (he died 11 years later). “It’s very difficult to be different from other jewelers because everybody seems to be doing everything,” she said. “So we must get better and better — in design, what we find and how we promote ourselves.
“With technology stronger than ever, we have to go with the times,” she added. “We didn’t have Instagram and social media 20 years ago, so a low profile isn’t really in the cards.”
Yet a more aggressive approach is far from easy for Mrs. Moussaieff as, she said, “it is not in my nature.” Unlike most jewelers who would drape themselves in their creations, particularly for interviews, Mrs. Moussaieff does not wear the house’s jewelry. “I don’t like to advertise it on myself,” she said. (She did, however, agree to wear a titanium ruby and yellow-diamond flower brooch for a photo shoot the next day.)
At the Biennale, 100 pieces from across the collection will be on display because, Mrs. Moussaieff said, “then I can aim at everyone who comes by.” Among them will be a pearl necklace with rose-cut white diamonds and natural fancy pink diamonds, highlighting the house’s expertise in matching pearls and finding diamonds with the same color, cut and purity. There also will be a vivid diamond necklace with hanging rubies, a 43.86-carat Colombian emerald and a Sri Lankan sapphire of more than 158 carats, as well as a 56.34-carat diamond that Mrs. Moussaieff is fashioning into a ring or pendant.
Next year she plans to exhibit at the European Fine Art Fair, best known as Tefaf, in Maastricht, the Netherlands, “because it is similar to the Biennale and a different crowd still,” she said. And she is considering a stop at Art Basel Hong Kong because it is “geographically somewhere else, so more people from China can come and see us who might not go to Maastricht.”
Exhibiting in Paris lays the groundwork for the future, too. Mrs. Moussaieff plans to open the house’s first boutique in the city within the next three years because, she said, Paris is becoming more important as a shopping destination, particularly with sophisticated Chinese visitors. (The house has, in addition to the New Bond Street flagship, shops on Park Lane in London and in Geneva, Hong Kong and the French ski resort of Courchevel.
Even as she’s planning, Mrs. Moussaieff said: “There will come a time when someone else will have to do what I am doing.”
Her daughter Tamara, who has bought stones for the company for more than 30 years, might be its future leader. But Mrs. Moussaieff said she also would consider hiring a chief executive, because, she said, it is necessary to bring in new clients and keep the business steady for it to develop long term.
“The world is turning upside down,” Mrs. Moussaieff said, “and we have to turn with it.”
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