Diamond expert Vashi Domínguez on why bespoke is the only form of luxury
As VASHI opens its second store, Tempus finds out why the perfect gift takes more than diamonds alone
Vashi Dominguez wants to change the way we look at jewellery. Whether shopping for an engagement ring or a Christmas gift, diamonds are one of the hallmarks of luxury jewellery, and though one could never accuse the precious gemstone of going out of fashion, diamonds of all shapes and sizes are back en vogue in a big way.
But for Dominguez, fashion is not enough. VASHI's flagship London store on Piccadilly is a combination showroom and workshop, wide open spaces encouraging customers to choose their own diamond, setting and, for the brave, even get involved in the hand-worked process as well.
With a second store newly opened this month at Westfield London's Luxury Village, and the daring new lightning-bolt inspired Lovestrike collection out just in time for the holidays, Dominguez is ready to spread his bespoke diamond service far and wide. Here, he tells Tempus why personalization is the only thing that counts…
Vashi, you made your name selling diamonds online, tell us about the concept behind your stores?
"I created the stores around the customer. At VASHI we want you to roll up your sleeves and create the piece of jewellery yourself. We’re here to help you make the item of jewellery of your dream, not to sell you an item off the shop floor. ‘I love you, I made this for you’ will always win over ‘I love you, I bought this for you’ because you have invested heart and soul into creating your own unique and very intimate symbol of your love.
Personalisation is obviously key to a VASHI experience. Why is it so integral to your brand?
I believe when you give a piece of jewellery, you are writing a hand-written love note. It’s not about giving a ring, pendant or earrings that someone else is also wearing. It’s about giving a little bit of yourself to another, about making it for them or with them. That’s what luxury should be. The diamond itself is unique – every one of them billions of years old. The jewellery and experience around buying one should also therefore be unique. >>
Your Piccadilly store is incredibly open, with diamonds on display rather than behind glass cases. What was behind the store design?
You’ve said it yourself, ‘it’s open’. We want customers to interact with the diamonds, see them touch them, engage with the stones and all their beauty. It isn’t about a piece of jewellery hidden behind burly bouncers, intimidating shop staff or locked glass vitrines. It’s about the diamonds.
What are the benefits to having your 'alchemists' and the workshop within the store itself?
Having resident alchemists means that you can make the ring there and then. We welcome the customer who is willing to roll up their sleeves and make their own jewellery under the guidance of our master craftsmen. It also means any alteration to sizing or additional engraving can be done there and there with no time delay.
You have 20 years of experience trading diamonds, and often say there's much more to it that the '4 Cs'. What makes a perfect diamond?
This is a big question to answer, and what inspired us to run a series of masterclasses at our new store, where we’ll talk about how to assess the myriad of mysteries behind a diamond’s sparkle beyond just the 4Cs (colour, clarity, carat and cut), and why at VASHI we reject 90% of the diamonds we see. I wanted to create a hands-on experience, getting our customers up close and personal with some seriously stunning rocks, all ethically sourced and traceable back to their kimberlite origins.
This month you launched a new collection 'Lovestrike'. Tell us about that?
It's inspired by the energy and shape of a lightning bolt, and the V angle is of course a nod to the brand’s name. The pieces are fresh, modern and dynamic, and speaks to the bolt of emotion which resonates through the VASHI brand.