Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Pearl Essence Dubai details unveiled


Jewellery designers from all over the world are set to descend upon Dubai next year for what is dubbed as the Oscars of pearl jewellery design, the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) announced on Tuesday.

“Pearl Essence” – an International Pearl Jewellery Design Programme, is a global design initiative for pearl jewellery initiated by DMCC, a government-backed commodity marketplace that seeks to revive the pearling tradition in the UAE and create a platform for the coloured stones trade.

Ahmed Bn Sulayem, Executive Chairman of DMCC, who launched the event in a press conference, said,“Dubai’s pearling industry has always been linked to the Gulf region and the outside world. It’s not a self-contained city. Dubai flourished the day it opened its doors and relaxed duties to merchants,” he said.

Highlighting Dubai’s long pearling tradition, Bin Sulayem said the event is an opportunity “to capture talent from the region and other parts of the world in designing pearl jewellery through competition.”

Organisers are expecting 1,000 entries from two categories – professionals and students of various jewellery design schools around the world.

The designs call for incorporating different categories of pearls, including Tahitian, South Sea, Akoya and Freshwater.

Two categories

The professional designer tier will constitute a custom-designed collection of pearl jewellery pieces, created by ten invited luxury brands inspired by the rich Arabian pearling heritage and represented in a modern and contemporary fashion.

The student tier is a competition for final-year students from schools that offer a minimum two-year full time jewellery design course, spanning a broad geographical market.

Bin Sulayem said: “This international pearl jewellery design programme will both highlight Dubai as a centre for the global pearl trade and increase the visibility of pearls in the fashion industry.

‘Pearl Essence’ will invite participation from the global marketplace and provide a neutral and innovative programme for the international pearl community.”

For the professional designer tier, DMCC is currently in discussions with leading luxury jewellery brands including members of the Dubai Pearl Exchange to create one unique piece each for the collection.

The entries will tour international jewellery trade exhibitions before being auctioned by Christie’s with the proceeds being donated to charity.

DMCC is also working with 44 jewellery design schools spanning Australia, China, India, Japan, Lebanon, Singapore, South Africa and Turkey to solicit entries before the early 2009 deadline.

The student entries will be judged by an international jury, chaired by DMCC and comprising trade journalists and professional jewellery designers.

The designs will be evaluated for commercial design, wearability, theme-based creativity and the use of pearls as the main design feature.

A shortlist of 10 student designs will be fabricated into finished jewelry by DMCC-nominated manufacturers and pearl sponsors.

The fledgling designers stand to win several awards including a 30-day internship with an international jewellery design house, a week's visit to the pearling operations of Paspaley Pearling Co in Western Australia, a seven-day course at Gemological Institute of America’s (GIA’s) Carlsbad campus and online pearl courses from GIA.

Gaiti Rabbani, Executive Director of Coloured Stones and Pearls, DMCC said: “Pearl Essence is a very exciting initiative. It pays fitting tribute to the gem of Arabia, while at the same time bringing together the international pearl community in a unique manner.

“Through Pearl Essence, we aim to enhance awareness and appreciation of the beauty of this gem, drawing on the artistic finesse of luxury jewellery designers as well as the budding talent in the industry. Key milestones have been crafted during the programme to create unique opportunities for networking amongst young talent and established professionals, with a view to career enhancement.

“We are very encouraged by the response we’ve had from the pearl community -- Paspaley Pearling Co has confirmed a support sponsorship role alongside official pearl sponsor for the student category.

“Damas, Dhamani, Mikura Pearls and Pinctada have confirmed participation as official manufacturers and the list gets longer as more partners sign up with Pearl Essence.”


DMCC’s two-year Pearl Essence programme will culminate in a gala event in Dubai, which will include an exhibition showcasing the pearl jewellery created by both the designer brands as well as the students and an awards ceremony to select and honour three winning students.

In addition, the final pearl jewellery collection will form part of a six-month traveling exhibition to major international jewellery shows.

The introduction of the Dubai International Pearl Jewellery programme is a vital new element of the DMCC’s comprehensive pearl strategy, which seeks to revitalise the Middle East’s leadership status in the pearl sector and re-establish Dubi as a centre for the global trade.

Pearl Essence complements DMCC’s recently announced “Pearls of Arabia”, a landmark project located on The World islands, featuring a high-quality offshore entertainment, education and retail centre.

DMCC’s dedicated Coloured Stones and Pearls Division, launched in 2007, seeks to foster relations with the international trade and develop industry services.

The current platforms in the portfolio of the Coloured Stones and Pearls Division include the Dubai Gems Club and the Dubai Pearl Exchange. These platforms are supported by other divisional initiatives such as the recently launched GemBureau Middle East and the Pearls of Arabia.


  • Pearl Essence is an International Pearl Jewellery Design programme focused on the beauty and uniqueness of the pearl.
  • A global design concept of this nature, encapsulating different categories of pearls, is being developed for the first time.
  • Pearl Essence is a two-tier event with categories for both professional designers and students.

The Theme

The rich heritage of pearling in Arabia represented in a modern and contemporary fashion

Designer Tier

  • Top international jewellery brands will be invited “by invitation only” alongside Dubai Pearl Exchange members to submit a design and go on to produce a stunning “one of a kind” finished pearl jewellery piece inspired by the given theme.
  • Designs will be showcased during a glittering gala dinner and then form part of a travelling exhibition, offering exceptional visibility.
  • A nominated charity will receive the funds raised from auctioning the jewellery at a high-end charity evening in Dubai by Christie’s.

Student Awards

  • The award is designed to encourage creativity and innovation in pearl jewellery design and offer prizes to further enhance learning and career opportunities amongst design students.
  • The award is open to final year students in a minimum of two year full time dedicated jewellery design program from eligible institutes.
  • At present 44 institutes have been shortlisted in 9 markets with over 1,000 students.
  • The award will be marketed to the institutes through appointed representatives, posters, a dedicated website which is under development, student packs and roadshows.
  • The designs will be judged by an international jury who represent the pearl trade.
  • 10 finalists will be selected and their designs will be fabricated into a finished piece of jewellery by DMCC nominated manufacturers, sponsored by pearl producers.
  • The finalists and their tutors will be invited and hosted for a glittering Gala event in Dubai in 2009, allowing them the opportunity to present their designs and network with potential employers
  • All finished jewellery pieces will form a traveling exhibition to international markets during specific jewellery events with an accompanying catalogue

The Jury

  • Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Executive Chairman, DMCC
  • Gaiti Rabbani, Executive Director, Coloured Stones & Pearls Division, DMCC
  • Tawfique Abdullah, Chairman, Dubai Gold and Jewellery Group and Damas
  • Jorg Gellner, Managing Director, Gellner GmbH & Co
  • Editors of two leading jewellery magazines
  • Two representatives from leading design brands


  • Akoya Pearls (Japanese)
  • Tahitian Pearls (French Polynesia)
  • South Sea Pearls (Australia, Philippines and Indonesia)
  • Freshwater cultured pearls (Chinese)
  • Any combination of the above


The finalists will receive:

  • First prize: A month long internship sponsored by a leading international jewellery brand.
  • Second prize: A week long trip to the pearling operations and pearl farms of Paspaley Pearling Co in Western Australia
  • Third prize: A seven day pearl course at Gemological Institute of America’s (GIA’s) headquarters in Carlsbad, California
  • Prizes for all 10 finalists: An online pearl course courtesy of GIA
  • The award-winning pieces will be showcased in a dedicated area at the Pearls of Arabia experience centre

Confirmed Sponsors

  • Pearl Essence Support Sponsor: Paspaley Pearling Co
  • Official Manufacturers: Damas, Dhamani, Mikura, Pinctada
  • Pearl Sponsor - South Sea Pearls: Paspaley Pearling Co