Interviewed: Elena Olkhovskaya
The luxury market jealously accepts newcomers. He checks them for strength and consistency, closely monitors the ups and downs. Who knows, if Katya Abu Samra from the Syrian family of Samra, well-known in the region, did not start negotiations with representatives of the French jewelry company Korloff, we could today admire the unique jewelry and watches of this company in Dubai, and experience the joy of touching the history of the most mysterious black diamond ...
Katya, Samra chain of jewelry stores has long been well known in Dubai, but please tell me how it turned out that the Korloff brand is represented on the Emirate market by your company today?
Let's go first. When I came to work for Samra, and this is our family-owned company, we did not have a single brand that belonged to the luxury market. We traded only jewelry of our own production and several Italian factories, which are also wonderful, but wanted something unusual and delicious, such as Korloff. And since I held the position of business development manager, my direct responsibilities included searching for new brands and ways to expand the company's activities. And I decided that we need to start selling not only jewelry, but also watches in our stores.
I personally always liked Korloff products, so I went to the branded boutique of this brand, which was then in the Wafi shopping center, and said that I wanted to buy a few watches to represent them in the Samra chain of stores. The store management agreed, and I selected about thirty hours for Samra. But when she came the next day to sign an agreement on the purchase of this watch, the store manager told me: "Katya, wait a bit with the purchase, since Korloff plans to change its distributor in the region." When I found out about this, I asked for a contact number to try to discuss with Korloff the possibility of Samra obtaining exclusive dealer rights to their products in the region.
And so it happened that I wanted to represent Korloff long before they turned their attention to the Samra network. In my opinion, a good combination of circumstances! It should be noted that Korloff at that time already knew exactly who it wanted to see as its agent in the Middle East region, and even selected a group of five large retailers for the final negotiations, clearly knowing their pros, cons, number of stores and other parameters, and here I… .
And how did you manage to convince Korloff that it needed Samra as a partner?
Fair? I do not know. Nobody studied the potential of Samra as a regional distributor. I just got the courage to call the Korloff representatives and invited them to a meeting. They came, warned right away that they did not promise anything, because they did not know anything about our company and that even my brilliant presentation was unlikely to affect the final decision. And so it happened, they listened to us, but did not say either yes or no. Then there were a few more meetings, as a result of which I signed the first dealer agreement with Korloff in Egypt. After that, becoming an exclusive Korloff agent in the Emirates was already easier.
Why do you personally like Korloff? What unusual have you found for yourself in this brand, when there are so many famous jewelry houses with a rich history and extraordinary products?
When it comes to branded jewelry, it's hard for me to say right away what I like best. On the one hand, for example, I really love the classic decorations of Tiffany & Co., Van Cleef & Arpels, and other houses. On the other hand, I am attracted to unusual jewelry, in which there is some kind of “highlight” and which are not as widely known as the products of world famous brands. In Korloff, I am impressed with absolutely everything - dissimilarity to others, a game with light, shadow, edges. Their decorations, at first glance, are simple, and if you look closely, they are incredibly beautiful, elegant and spectacular. It seems to me that it is important for any woman to look unique. Korloff jewelry can help. I know that for sure.
Yes, one more nuance. When I knew about Korloff only as a customer, I admired them, and when we began to work together, and I gradually learned more about the company, I simply fell in love with this brand completely and irrevocably. I like everything about him - and how the company's specialists work with diamonds and precious stones, and the highest level of professionalism at all levels, and a sense of humor, and attention to detail. In a word, that's it.
Katya, when did you first hear the famous story of the Korloff Noir black diamond?
I heard about the black diamond when I went to France to purchase the first Korloff jewelry collection for our boutiques. Before arriving at the headquarters of the company, which is located in Lyon, I was sure that Korloff is the name of the first owner of the brand. Imagine my surprise when I learned that the black diamond is called that.
Have you personally failed to touch the Korloff Noir?
I don’t (laughs). But I’ll tell you who exactly concerned him. The queen of Malaysia, the emperor of Japan, the sheikh from Bahrain and, perhaps, everything concerned a unique diamond. They say that Daniel Payaser himself, who has owned Korloff Noir for about 30 years, saw this diamond only six times in his life, and if he touched the relic, it was only in gloves. Maybe he is just afraid to frighten off luck? I do not know. But judging by the fact that Daniel Payaser is doing pretty well, this diamond, whose insurance value exceeds US $ 37,000,000, really has the ability to bring good luck to its owners. In any case, I believe in it. It’s not easy to make yourself talk when the indestructible Harry Winston and Van Cleef & Arpels, Tiffany & Co and Chaumet reign in the jewelry world, but Korloff succeeded. Today the jewelry house is represented in 35 countries of the world, and its boutiques adorn the main streets of New York, Tokyo, Milan, and the leading shopping centers of the Middle East. At the beginning of the third millennium, the company declared itself in Russia: two boutiques were opened in Moscow and one in St. Petersburg. And from that I am especially pleased to be part of the success of Korloff.
What, in your opinion, distinguishes Korloff jewelry from other pieces of jewelry representing the luxury segment?
I think that Daniel, as the founder of the Korloff house, who became the owner of such a unique creation, has to constantly keep the highest bar: all the products of his jewelry house must correspond to the black diamond class. After all, the stone itself and the origins of the jewelry house originate in Russia, and this obliges us to a lot. It seems to me that your country, its history and culture have some special significance for Daniel. This can be seen in almost every Korloff collection.
By the way, the company produces not so many jewelry. Most of them are made to order and designs. Daniel Payaser himself and his son Olivier, the heir to the Korloff house and the successor to the family business, take part in the development of jewelry design. All jewelry is processed only by hand. First, stones of the same weight, size and shade are selected, then the frames of the products are made and ground. Manually occurring and coating with multi-colored sparkling varnish (the technology of this process is kept in the strictest confidence). This creates collections of the highest quality and impeccable style.
In my opinion, all Korloff jewelry collections are distinguished by some amazing indiscretion and expressiveness. Glitter of precious and semiprecious stones and varnish are striking, and Korloff has a fascinating sparkle not only with loose stones, but also modest, at first glance, Solitaire rings decorated with one diamond. The thing is that Korloff jewelers invented and patented their own Korloff cut in 65 facets (there are 57 in the classic cut), which makes even the smallest stones sparkle with a special light.
Today, the famous Korloff cut can be seen in many other products of the brand. For example, Daniel Payaser came up with an original collection of watches with faceted sapphire crystal, outlined with faces repeating the outlines of a Korloff diamond. And for the Arab countries, Korloff House produces unique “double-sided” watches in different colors of gold, where on the one hand you see the dial with the usual Arabic numerals, and on the other, the dial on which the clock is written in Arabic script. No one else has it!
And the famous Korloff Noir stone, which brought luck to the brand, is reflected in the new collections of the company?
Yes, black diamonds, not distinguished by a special natural brilliance, are mandatory in the jewelry collections of the Korloff house. Their master jewelers were also forced to "play" - due to skillful framing with ordinary diamonds. Made in this style Volga is one of the most famous collections of the house. Another distinctive visiting card of Korloff jewelry is shiny lacquer. Fourteen of its bright colors attract like a magnet. The varnish is used in the classic collections of St-Petersbourg and St-Petersbourg Junior, it can be plain or multi-colored.
But nevertheless, the “highlight” of Korloff is, first of all, the luxurious splendor of selected precious stones and metals. Daniel Payaser creates his masterpieces from 18ct white, pink and yellow gold, diamonds, Madagascar sapphires, emeralds, rubies and topazes. The Korloff collections use sapphires in five colors - pink, yellow, blue, blue, red - and dozens of their shades. “I love originality, a mixture of colors and different materials,” says Daniel Payaser, head of the French jewelry house. That is probably why in our boutiques today you can find absolutely stunning necklaces of black mink, white gold and diamonds. I do not presume to describe them; it is better to come to our flagship Middle Eastern boutique Korloff in the Dubai Mall and see.
Katya, I heard that in addition to jewelry and watches, does Korloff House produce other groups of luxury goods?
Yes, today Korloff is not only jewelry, and not only for women. Silk scarves, ties, scarves and even pens decorated with the same varnish as jewelry collections can be matched with any Korloff jewelry. But while this is possible only in France and some world fashion capitals. Korloff House also releases its own perfume. But a real sensation was the appearance of a collection of evening dresses from Korloff, the design of which was also invented by the tireless Daniel Payaser. “The appearance of a new brand in the high-fashion niche is a phenomenon in itself. Moreover, in the history of fashion this is the first time that Haute Сouture creates jewelry at home,” he said.
I personally admire this man and I feel lucky to meet Daniel Payaser at the dawn of my career.
Probably, the magic of the black diamond was also not complete here. It seems to me that everyone who is personally acquainted with Daniel Payaser is simply amazed at his energy and incredible erudition. For several hours, he can tirelessly communicate with a wide variety of people, telling them about the history of precious stones and explaining which of the original ideas was embodied in the latest collections of the Korloff house. I have no doubt that Daniel and his son Oliver have “hidden” a lot of projects ready for implementation, each of which will surely become a sensation in the world of luxury. This means that Samra Jewelery also has a lot of work ahead.
Katya - You are a young and ambitious woman leading a large company. Who supported you in all your endeavors, and to whom in the first place do you turn for advice in difficult situations?
The most important person in my life is my father, who founded Samra Jewelery. Without him, I would not be who I am now. I was only 25 years old when I headed the company, and still, in any situation, I consult with my father. He is well known in the industry, many listen to his opinion. Of course, my arrival in the jewelry sphere as the head of the company was not unambiguously accepted by everyone. And now, if you look, the Korloff boutique located in Dubai Mall is surrounded by stores of the most famous jewelry brands - Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Chaumet and others. But still, customers go to our boutique, glancing at others along the way. So something attracts them to Korloff, as it once attracted and continues to attract me. Moreover, today in our boutique you can buy magnificent watches and jewelery designed for any budget, and these are jewelery marked by the Korloff brand butterfly. Beautiful, defiant, spectacular ...
And by the way, I noticed that representatives of many jewelry brands with a long history have recently begun to relate to Samra Jewelery in a new way. I think the Korloff diamond, to some extent, brought us luck. Of course, you can not believe it, but fortune smiles on everyone who wears jewelry, watches or accessories from the French Korloff house. Check it out for yourself!
Thank you, Katya, for the fascinating conversation. I wish you that luck is always on your side.