Building Bespoke Jewelry

Kuwait-based Octium, the brainchild of partners Fahad Al Hajiri and Alanood Al Sabah, was recently chosen for the cover of Powershow 3: New Retail Design, a book that explores the “latest and greatest retail interiors from all over the world.” Using a combination of custom materials, a high-profile designer, and a love for the art form of jewelry, Octium has created a space that is both grand and personal. Octium’s creators’ goal was clear: The retail store is the evolution of a modern, multi-brand selling space as luxury destination. JCK spoke to Hajiri and Sabah to learn more about the store’s lauded design.

JCK: Talk a little bit about the concept for the store’s design and what kind of reaction you wanted to evoke from customers. 

In order to translate our multi-faceted ideas and attention to detail, Spanish designer Jaime Hayon was enlisted in 2008. The brief was to create a space with three clear principles: First, the reflection of the long heritage of craftsmanship; second, looking toward the future; and third, to clearly showcase fine jewelry as if browsing through an art gallery. To make the store a truly unique destination, each item in the store was custom-designed by Hayon and then brought to life by the world’s finest artisans.

JCK: What materials were used in the interiors and why? 

We used some of the best and most interesting materials in the world, including black Saint Laurent marble used in the store’s facade and American walnut finishing in the expansive display bar as well as portal and ceiling frames. The iconic volcano table’s legs, each one different, are hand turned and lacquered. Even the store’s solid brass doors are huge in scale, standing at three meters high. The velvet of the signature poof at the entrance of the boutique, the exquisitely stitched carpets and the leather used on the chairs all pull together to create a rich and deep experience, reflecting ultimate grandeur and elegance. In remaining unconventional in the displays, ceramic lamps suspend from the ceiling into the glass cabinets—making the jewelry that much more prominent, but with an edge.

JCK: The space is broken up into three sections: the gallery, the bar, and the VIP area. What are the functions for all three, and why was it created that way? 

The gallery is inspired by Art Deco and Art Nouveau, and reflects glamour, elegance and decadence. We use it for show pieces with their own customized display systems. The high-end section houses one-of-a-kind pieces in niche windows. The bar displays easily accessible, easy-to-sell pieces by younger designers. The VIP Room is used to meet with clients to discuss bespoke projects, closing deals, and for private screenings of jewelry by important clientele. The flow of each area is harmonious and takes the customer on a journey from entrance to exit.

JCK: What are your top three tips for other retailers looking to create a luxury jewelry destination? 

The success of our brand was dependent on several key points: To create a less intimidating space that welcomes walk-ins and engages them in a personal and intimate experience; the personalization of the space itself as well as the way everything is displayed; and the respect for the jewelry itself and the need for constant evolution.


Photos courtesy of Octium

To learn more about Octium, visit octiumjewelry.com.

Author of A Girl’s Guide to Buying Diamonds, Randi Molofsky has covered the fine jewelry and gemstone industries for 12 years. A noted contributor to fashion and business publications ranging from W to New York, and the former fashion editor at National Jeweler, she also serves as a strategic consultant for industry organizations and high-profile designers. Randi muses on personal style and design at pimpsqueak.com.