As fifth-generation co-guardian to one of the world’s most prestigious diamond houses, the House of Mouawad, JIMMY MOUAWAD is focused on the future, as neetinder dhillon discovers
No designation quite describes the role Jimmy Mouawad (25) has to play in building on the legacy of the House of Mouawad, so fifth-generation co-guardian it will have to be. A term both understated and powerful in its intent.
The enormity of the role and the weight of expectations it carries can only be understood by a brief detour into the history of Mouawad, founded in 1890.
Jeweller and watchmaker David Mouawad wrote the first chapter with a workshop in his native Lebanon. Son Fayez expanded the business beyond Beirut, the exquisite craftsmanship getting the patronage of the Saudi Royal family. The mantle then fell to Robert, who went international, establishing the company headquarters in Geneva. Mouawad made inroads into the North American and Far Eastern markets while adding a Geneva-based luxury watch division. Bangkok became the jewellery manufacturing hub.
Taking over from Robert, the fourthgeneration co-guardians brothers Fred, Pascal and Alain Mouawad firmly established the brand in the high-jewellery and haute horology space. Today, they are in command of the Mouawad destiny. But, unlike family enterprises that falter at passing the baton, Mouawad has a plan. The fifth-generation co-guardians – Fred’s son Jimmy and Alain’s daughter Anastasia – are working on crafting the future.
I first connected with Jimmy two years ago at a Mouawad gala dinner in Bangkok. He had just announced the Mouawad Diamond Impact Fund (education and skills development). This time, however, we connect on Zoom.
The utterly charming heir-apparent splits his time between (home base) Bangkok and Los Angeles. The pandemic kept him California confined after he received his degree at the Gemological Institute of America’s new Carlsbad campus, named after his grandfather Robert Mouawad.
In a nod to Californian hedonism, Jimmy drives a fast car; an off-white convertible Porsche 911. “In California with its beautiful weather, being able to drop the top is a plus! Not to mention when I’m driving to meetings, it gets me there faster. It’s a relatively compact car, so easy to park too.”
Currently working on an under-wraps e-commerce venture of his own, Jimmy is mindful of what being a Mouawad entails. “It is a big responsibility. I want to be able to hand it over to my children, and this excites me, and challenges me to expand the business globally. We are a truly international family and I look forward to working together to build our brand further.” Jimmy has avoided the first pitfall for all heirs: he understands that maintaining the status quo is not an option. The future is about adding to the Mouawad story.
He says, “I have the power to change my reality. If my goals are clear in my head, nothing can stop me from executing them. I believe in continuous education – that is selfempowerment.”
Growing up, Bangkok was home and where he went to school. High school took him to Switzerland, then London for a business degree and finally California for his qualification in gemology. Of Bangkok, he says, “It’s home base; it’s where my parents and sisters are.” And it’s where his favourite place to hang with friends is, Zuma. In Los Angeles, it’s Nobu’s Matsuhisa in Beverly Hills. Lebanese is comfort food, but somtam pla ra and phaad krapow come a close second.
I ask him about his contribution to the Mouawad story. “I see contribution in designing new pieces and collections, being the spokesperson for the fifth generation. I want to share our family values with our current collaborations like Miss Universe. I want to focus on continuing to build the brand and inspire the next generation.”
Jimmy sees himself adding shine to
Mouawad. “We do classic, timeless pieces, but it is important to be fashion-forward. I bring that new perspective in design.”
His style speaks volumes of his personality, bracketed by the casual, oversized hoodiesbaggy-jeans-sneakers look, and tailored suits. “My fashion is influenced by Bangkok, London, New York and Los Angeles, where I live.” As for brands, “I am all over the place. It depends on where I’m going and my mood.”
Jimmy wears a white hoodie during our conversation and as he runs his hand through his tousled hair, his gold bracelet comes into view. It’s a Mouawad with the Syrian Cross as links. “I designed this. I only wear jewellery that I design.” The accompanying smile speaks of several things: pride in his heritage, confidence in crafting a new future, effortless poise, courage and zero arrogance. His most prized possession is an elegant gold cross he wears around his neck. He inherited it from his grandmother via his father. “I wear it all the time.” He holds it to the camera, his expression, a testimony to his deep connection to his heritage. His watch? A Mouawad, of course. His first one was a Christmas present – the Mouawad Grande Ellipse Sport.
On sustainability, he says: “It is in our system, in our strategies and policies. As a De Beers Sightholder, Mouawad has access to conflict-free rough diamonds. We do the cutting in-house and control the entire process. Though I wish our industry could be more synchronised and offer the consumer more transparency.”
When did he fall in love with gemstones? “I realised as a child this is what I wanted to do. I was fascinated by gems; my father would give us siblings small gems to play with. I got curious about their origin, the colour, how the gems formed. He let me make my jewellery and it piqued my interest.” Jimmy recently attended a Harvard Legacy programme with Fred – an inspiring exercise that further cemented the filial bond.
The extended family is close-knit and that takes a lot of work. This June, Jimmy is looking forward to the pandemic-interrupted yearly ritual: a vacation with extended family on board the family yacht, this time, cruising the Greek islands.
Fun for Jimmy is meeting up with friends for a drink or dinner or long scenic drives. He loves scuba diving, has a blackbelt in taekwondo, plays tennis and runs. “I like designing and dabble in painting. In New York, I visit art galleries. There’s beauty in all types of art.”
“I HAVE THE POWER TO CHANGE MY REALITY. IF MY GOALS ARE CLEAR IN MY HEAD, NOTHING CAN STOP ME FROM EXECUTING THEM”