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Wednesday April 24, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Friday April 26, 2013 MYT 12:40:45 AM
by kee hua chee
The world’s most famous diamond purveyor has opened at Suria KLCC, its second store in South-East Asia after Singapore.
DESPITE what the name suggests, De Beers did not begin life selling a particular alcoholic beverage. It is the family name of brothers Diederick and Nicholas de Beers whose farmland turned out to be particularly loaded with diamonds. They quickly sold their property and never ran the company that bore their name.
De Beers Consolidated Mines was formed in 1888. As they controlled the world’s supply of diamonds by owning 75% of diamond mines, De Beers was the most formidable diamond cartel in history until 2000 when their modus operandi changed.
In 2001, De Beers partnered LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton to create independent jewellery company De Beers Diamond Jewellers Ltd. Its flagship store opened in 2002 at London’s Bond Street; the latest Malaysian De Beers boutique is number 48. As such, Suria KLCC joins the likes of Printemps and Galerie Lafayette in Paris, IFC in Shanghai, Landmark in Hong Kong and Shin Kong Place in Beijing.
“Unlike other jewellery stores, De Beers is a pure, undiluted diamond company,” explains Ng Sheau Yuen, 39, chairman of De Beers Malaysia and executive director of Tomei Jewellery, which is the Malaysian partner of De Beers.
“De Beers jewellery stores sell only diamonds, be they loose stones or ready-to-wear necklaces, rings, earrings or brooches,” says Ng. “There are no ruby, sapphire or emerald accents. Neither are there any perfumes, belts, handbags or accessories that carry the De Beers name. This is diamond exclusivity at its best!”
Ng’s father Tan Sri Ng Teck Fong founded Tomei.
“My brother (Datuk Ng Yih Pyng, managing director of Tomei) spoke to De Beers three years ago and after due diligence, they agreed,” adds Ng.
Tomei holds sterling credentials, so this joint venture was one waiting to happen. “Tomei has 52 stores in Malaysia and also has branches in Vietnam (seven kiosks) and China (11 kiosks). Our three in-house brands My Diamond, Goldheart and Le Lumiere have stand-alone stores. We are particularly pleased to open De Beers Malaysia this year, which is coincidentally Tomei’s 45th anniversary.”
Declares Francois Delage, CEO of De Beers Diamond Jewellers, “KLCC is the destination for luxury shopping in Malaysia and Tomei’s expertise in jewellery retail in this region makes them our ideal partner.”
Diamond lovers are in for a deliriously delightful time.
“All jewellery stores sell diamonds but De Beers stores offer exclusive and esoteric features that set us apart,” enthuses Ng.
“Most people know a diamond’s value is based on the 4 Cs established by De Beers – cut, carat, clarity and colour. To this, we must add ‘Fire’, ‘Brilliance’ and ‘Life’ as only diamonds with these seven characteristics are sold in De Beers boutiques.
“Fire is the dispersion of light into the colours of the rainbow. Brilliance is the natural transparency and brightness, the very soul of the stone, while Life is about the flash of light, the sparkle when a perfectly cut diamond moves with every gesture you make,” says Ng with a smile.
To add to De Beers’ uniqueness, there is now the revolutionary, one-of-a-kind Iris.
The De Beers Iris is named after the eye and not Vincent van Gogh’s favourite flowers. The coloured part of the eye is the iris which controls light while the centre of the iris is the pupil.
Ng shows off the De Beers Iris – a small, innocuous, state-of-the-art box. She places a diamond ring inside and points to the screen on the wall.
“You would assume two diamonds with identical 4 Cs are the same, but they can differ greatly when viewed under the Iris!”
Like magic, a heavily magnified diamond image appears, its eight spokes perfectly sharp and clear, somewhat like those in a bicycle wheel. A press of the button and another picture materialises, this time with the eight facets pointed like a star.
“This is the result of perfect proportions which maximises light reflection,” explains Ng. She then inspects another diamond ring (from a different brand). “This is a normal diamond with similar 4 Cs.”
This writer is astounded to see a sorry display of blurry pin points of light with no coherence or symmetry.
“This confusing mess is due to asymmetrical proportions and misaligned facets that cause the light to leak!” intones Ng.
“Of course, this is still a real diamond of value but when you realise there is a big gap, a De Beers diamond is so gratifying as you know you are getting the best.”
Another celebrated proprietary is the De Beers Marque.
“All diamonds over 0.2 carat is microscopically engraved with the De Beers Marque to guarantee its identity as a De Beers diamond, even if the setting is changed through the generations,” says Ng proudly.
“Don’t worry, the words ‘De Beers’ and identification number inscribed on the diamond table are invisible, cannot be duplicated and don’t affect the colour, carat or clarity. Finally, the diamond is catalogued in De Beers Diamond Registry for the ultimate security!”
If this is insufficient to the perfinicky, every purchase comes with a De Beers Passport. This booklet does not get you pass Immigration but rather gives the owner peace of mind.
“The Passport is a counterfeit-proof certification that guarantees your diamond has been ethically sourced and documents the precise qualities of the diamonds.”
De Beers introduced the 4 Cs grading system in 1939 and concocted the slogan A Diamond Is Forever in 1947, which is universally acknowledged as the best advertising slogan of the 20th century.
Though technically one would be buying direct from the owner of diamond mines who also happens to be the cutter, wholesaler and retailer, the prices sadly are not bargain-basement.
“Our prices are what you would expect. But they are not prohibitive as a small diamond ring starts from RM2,800 though the Swan Lake or Arpeggio necklace cost RM500,000 each. So there is a De Beers diamond for everyone!” concludes Ng.
> De Beers is located on the ground floor of Suria KLCC, Kuala Lumpur.
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