January 28, 2010
Eight years ago she was the name to know in the wholesale pearl business, nowadays Sabine Mazloum not only provides fresh-from-the-farm quality pearls but also delivers them in stunning, breathtaking designs to suit all tastes and budgets. Having just opened a stylish boutique in Downtown Beirut, Sabine Mazloum is something of a natural wonder herself...
Everyone knows Sabine Mazloum as the youngest Tahiti pearl dealer. How did you make the transition from trading pearls to designing jewelry?
About eight years ago, I first started as a wholesaler in pearls, not just Tahiti pearls, but all kinds of pearls including Australian pearls and Japanese pearls and I was buying them directly from the farms and selling them to jewelers in Lebanon and the Middle East. For the past five years, I have also been creating pearl jewelry, not simply with pearls but also incorporating diamonds, precious stones like rubies and sapphires and also some collections with semi-precious stones. I initially began selling pearls in a simple way, like with leather for example, and everyone always asked me to do my own jewelry because they loved my style and so slowly I started to create a collection and now each month I do a new collection.
When you started with wholesale pearls, they weren’t as popular in Lebanon as they are now. How was the initial feedback from jewelers and clients?
It was not very hard because pearls were already widely used in Europe and America -the princesses, the queens, the stars - everyone who was very elegant or famous used to have pearls. In this regard, it was very easy to introduce pearls in Lebanon and the Middle East because we have a lot of very elegant and classy women who like the status of femininity and elegance that is associated with pearls. It started very quickly and most of the women brought ten strands, each in a different color and size- white, black, gold, pink, champagne, multicolored - it was very easy for each of them to have a full collection of pearls.
What are the most popular pearls sold in Lebanon?
It depends very much on what’s in fashion. The most classical of course are the white and gray pearls. Later it became very fashionable to have a gold strand so everyone was looking for gold pearls. This year, the trend is violet so most clients were requesting violet pearls and they became very popular.
You create stunning pieces, where do you draw inspiration from?
I get inspiration just by watching women. When I admire or see a beautiful woman I get a lot of ideas so I go ahead and create my collection and then it is interesting to see if this woman who inspired me will like the piece which I created with her in mind.
How involved are your parents in the business? Do you take their opinions into consideration when creating new pieces?
My parents are not directly involved with the pearls. My father is a doctor of gemology and he is most well known in the diamonds industry, and he was also the PR for Perles de Tahiti in the Middle East so he was instrumental in promoting Perles de Tahiti. My mum has a jewelry shop in Rome so she is also in the jewelry industry. But here in Lebanon, it’s me; I’m the one who is creating and selling the pearls but I do like to have the opinion of my mum regarding my new collections because I like her taste and she knows what the ladies like. I also like to hear my fathers point of view since he is a professional in the jewelry world and he offers advice on the quality of the diamonds and workmanship.
You have recently decided to open your own boutique? What pushed you to make this investment?
I never thought that it would be important for me to have a shop, I was very happy in my office in Ashrafieh and was selling very well and doing exhibitions throughout the Middle East. It was my clients, however, who asked me to open up a shop so that they could have a place where they could go directly without taking an appointment. So, after three years of pleading on their part, I decided to go ahead with it. I chose Downtown because I think it’s a popular shopping location, it’s convenient too – easy to park, nice to walk around. I fell in love with this shop, with its old stone walls and the building is the oldest building in Downtown. I chose very modern and simple furnishings so as to focus on the colors and the light reflecting from the jewelry itself.
Should we expect to see any other boutiques popping up in the near future? What are your plans?
I have already had proposals to open outside of Lebanon, but I don’t think I’m ready just yet. I’m focusing on the new boutique now, it’s a lot work creating the collections and honestly, I didn’t anticipate such great demand for the opening so I have to create more and more. I will however be exhibiting my jewelry in the region just as I used to, in Kuwait, Qatar, Syria, Saudi, UAE, Cyprus and Jordan.
How was the opening and how has the feedback been since then?
It was a success and I was very happy to see that they loved the collection and the shop. The theme for the opening was Le Reve, it was all about the different colors of pearls. I was also sure to have something that suited all tastes and budgets, so I created pieces starting as low as $US70.
Are you preparing anything special for the upcoming holiday season?
Of course I’m doing a new collection for the holidays! Each month I release a new collection and for the important periods of the year there will be a special themed collection too. Multi-colored pearl strands are very much in fashion at the moment and are basically a mixture of all colors existing in pearls.
As an expert, what advice can you give our readers on how to look after their pearls?
You just have to remember that you have to treat the pearls as you would treat your skin and they will last forever. Oils are very good for pearls, wearing them to the sea is also beneficial. Basically, think of it this way, whatever is bad for your skin such as acidity, will be bad for your pearls. Most importantly, do not put them in a closed box because they have to breathe.
Any final words for our readers or pearl lovers?
I just want to say that everyone is welcome to my new shop, to have a look around, get more information or simply pop by for a coffee. I hope that it will be a place where all people interested in pearls will come seeing as how this is the only pearl shop in Lebanon and perhaps in the Middle East. If anyone has questions regarding their pearls I would be happy to assist them. One final word of advice is to always purchase pearls from a trusted dealer because in the pearl industry one can very easily be cheated.