Cara : a diamond in the desert
Over the last decade Cara Jewellers has become the go to place in Dubai for magpies seeking more sparkle for their money. Cara is a Dubai based gold and diamond retailer specialising in custom made jewelry. Its reliance on good old-fashioned word of mouth (whether through Tripadvisor or otherwise) has created a solid and loyal customer base. If you visit the Gold and Diamond Park in Dubai it is one of the few stores that is consistently full of customers.
I first purchased jewelry from Cara in 2008 and have been a loyal customer ever since. When I’m looking for exceptional quality and luxurious designs steeped in tradition I head to established high jewelry houses such as Van Cleef & Arpels, Cartier and Bvlgari. When I want more carat for my cash I head to Cara.
I recently met with Kiran Pethani (co-owner of Cara) to chat about how his business has grown over the last decade, get a tour of the design workshops and of course…try on some serious bling! Read on for my interview with Kiran, top tips for shopping at Cara and images of the pieces that most caught my eye.
Chatting carats with Cara
HSQ : Why did you open Cara?
Kiran : I opened Cara 14 years ago. At that time I was employed at another jewelry retailer in Deira, Dubai. I built up a loyal following - it was my customers who encouraged me to set up on my own.
HSQ : How do you attract and retain customers?
Kiran : My team has recently launched Cara on Facebook and Instagram. I don’t really know much about social media. My main objective is to ensure that my customers are 100% happy with whatever they buy from Cara. We go out of our way to make sure that we deliver what the customer wants at competitive prices. I’m not interested in growing a huge business I just want my customers to be happy so that they will come back to Cara and they will encourage their children to shop with us so that we become part of their family tradition.
HSQ: The ticket price on your items is grossly inflated. The actual price that customers pay if they haggle is much lower. How can Cara afford to offer such competitive prices on high value jewelry?
Kiran: We buy diamonds in bulk so we receive the benefit of volume discounts. My brother and I personally buy all our stock. We have rigorous checks in place to ensure we only buy good quality diamonds. We are a small family business. We do not have large overheads like the big brands so we can pass savings onto our customers. We also have workshops on site so that we can design and manufacture jewelry ourselves. We save costs on the manufacturing side because we don’t have to go through a middle man.
HSQ: Where do you source diamonds?
Kiran: The main diamond hubs such as Antwerp, India and of course Dubai.
After our conversation, I was given a tour of the many workshops at Cara to see where jewelry is designed and manufactured. Each workshop has a dedicated purpose (scroll down to see images). Customers who purchase engagement rings and other pieces from Cara can visit these workshops to see stones being set into precious metal.
Cara has had its fair share of celebrity customers with supermodel Alessandra Ambrosio being the most recent star to visit the store in November 2016. However, it is Cara’s loyal customers who keep this business going through repeat trips and recommendations to friends and family. Cara has become Dubai's best worst kept secret.
HSQ’s top tips for shopping at Cara:
1. Cara is not Cartier. Do not go to Cara expecting a Cartier style experience. For those familiar with the UK, think Hatton Gardens verses Bond Street. The staff in Cara are friendly, knowledgeable and have a can do attitude. Do try the complimentary Coffee Planet coffee (100% Arabica coffee beans) – shopping for diamonds can be thirsty work!
2. Go with an idea of what you want. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the many trays of trinkets on display. If you want something bespoke I recommend taking photos with you. A picture says 1000 words. Based on my experience visual aids reduce the margin for error during the jewelry design stage.
3. Ask for a certificate: If you are buying diamonds or other gem stones insist on a diamond certificate. A diamond certificate is issued by International Diamond Laboratories. It confirms the natural character of the stone and the metal in which it is set (including full details of the four Cs - cut, colour, clarity and carat of the diamond(s)). It is a useful confirmation for insurance purposes. In some instances you’ll be offered a Cara certificate of guarantee. It does not appear to be an actual guarantee it simply details what you have purchased. When it comes to insurance valuations a Cara certificate of guarantee is as much use as a chocolate teapot!
4. Ignore the ticket price. Display items tend to have a price tag that is inflated to almost 3 times the price that you could pay. This is a store where you can haggle without embarrassment. If you're forking out for an engagement ring haggling is a great tool for softening the blow.
5. Manage your expectations on timing. If Cara makes something and it does not turn out exactly how you expected or needs some modification in most circumstances they will adjust the piece until you are happy with it. This means that you will wait longer to receive your finished piece - do bear this in mind when placing an order. If you are short on time Cara can deliver products to your home or hotel. Cara also has a pick-up service should you need a ride to the store. This element of Cara's customer service is excellent.
6. Take advantage of after care service. Minor repairs and polishing are undertaken free of charge.
7. Keep your receipt and certificate in a safe place. You may upgrade your Cara jewelry at any time. You can exchange pieces made by Cara for new pieces. You will need to hold on to the original receipt and any diamond certificates so that Cara can value your old piece. You pay the difference between the valuation of the old item and purchase price of the new item.
Cara is not the only choice in the Gold and Diamond Park there are many retailers based there so do shop around. Get the sparkling deal that's right for you.
This is not a sponsored feature, it is HSQ's honest point of view.