BY ANAAM IKRAM
It is no secret that Bahrain is home to one of the most exquisite stones in the world, the pearl, and the most precious ones at that. For as long as The Kingdom’s history spans, the exquisite stone, and the industry itself, has been pivotal in forming the island’s foundation upon which the future generations continued to build, as well as giving it the identity as the hub for finding the highest quality pearls – a perennial reputation Bahrain is still recognised by today.
From merchants, to divers, to traders, those who established and developed the pearling industry left behind a jewelling patrimony continued on by the family lineage for years to come. Whether they stayed true to pearling, or diversified their reach, the cores of the businesses remain the same: continuing the family heritage with the same passion as their forefathers, a natural quality that is evident within each new generation without fail. The Mudaifa family is no different. Starting off as pearl merchants and rising to great success, Taqi’s Jewellery have secured their names amongst those commonly mentioned during talk of Bahrain’s significant pearling families. Perle Magazine spoke to Mohamed and Basma Mudaifa, the great grandchildren of Hassan Al Mudaifa, a pearl merchant and initiator of the Mudaifa family into the pearling industry, about their family business and their dedication to the craft that has lead to its immense success today.
From his youth – Hassan Al Mudaifa’s start in pearling as a trader and establishing Al Mudaifa Jewellery
Finding an interest in the craft from a young age, Hassan Al Mudaifa delved into the world of pearling in the late 1800s and inevitably launched the family in the pearling industry. As a merchant, the divers would bring the pearls to Hassan and he would personally sort through the collection and then re-sell the pearls in the market. His commitment to the art of pearling allowed him to establish himself as a respected merchant. Through his efforts, the Al Mudaifa name echoed loudly amongst those in search for quality pearls. Dealing with the likes of legendary jeweller Louis-François Cartier who came to Bahrain and purchased pearls from him, Hassan’s craftsmanship also saw him travel to India to sell the pearls.
Hassan Al Mudaifa’s journey continued further as his business expanded and lead him to setting up his jewellery business in the 1920s alongside his son, Mohammed Ali Al Mudaifa. Working initially with traditional Bahraini jewellery as well as pearls, Al Mudaifa Jewellery soon became prominent in dealing with luxury items and pearls. Working diligently to further their reach as a luxury retailer, Mohammed Ali Al Mudaifa’s son, Taqi Al Mudaifa also joined the business and introduced the luxury watches and objets d’art, and steered the business in that direction. He set up the first store in 1971 on Sheikh Abdullah Road – which at the time was known as an area for its variety of jewellery stores, and eventually bringing in renowned jewellery brands from around the world to Bahrain, enhancing the selection and standard of jewellery in the Kingdom. Learning the craft from his father, Taqi’s sincerity towards the family business resulted in their growth and expansion, which saw no bounds over the following years and allowed the family to further open up three more shops (all of which are located in Bahrain’s plush fashion-centric Moda Mall). Following in their father, Taqi Al Mudaifa’s, footsteps, Mohamed and Basma Al Mudaifa also joined the family business and steered it into a modern direction yet ensuring that the heart of the business remains the same.
A personal touch – Mohamed and Basma’s hands-on approach to creating splendour and elegance
Stemming from a family of jewellery, it was unsurprising that both Mohamed and Basma also dove into the family business. Receiving their education and training in design and jewellery making, Mohamed and Basma are now heading Taqi’s Jewellery, and are the ones responsible for the business’ ever expanding clientele.
Hosting luxury brands from around the world, Taqi’s Jewellery is home to both high-end jewellery and watch brands such as Longines, Conchord, Ebel, Movado, Phillippe Charriol, and Dietrich Watches. Taqi’s Jewellery is also in charge of luxury watches Blancpain and is responsible for bringing the brand to Bahrain.
Truly showcasing their passion for jewellery and design, Mohamed and Basma’s hands on-approach has resulted in not only bespoke jewellery pieces, but also unique gift objects. Setting up their manufacturing factory three years, Mohamed personally makes the jewellery pieces and items by hand based on the meticulously detailed sketches and designs drawn up by Basma. Meeting with the clients and understanding exactly what they are looking for, Basma’s designing beautifully captures their ideas and puts onto paper, in a tangible form, what they have in their minds. After the meeting, clients get the opportunity to look at the multiple design options Basma creates, as well as 3D renderings to get a complete understanding of what the end product will look like. “Once the client approves a design, Mohamed then makes the wax model and casts it in gold. “For the objects and clocks, it take many hours of precision machining, as for the jewellery, it takes more creativity. I do it all myself,” he explains,“ I’d cast, polish, and set the stones myself. From start to finish, I do everything. It is what I have learnt and what I have taught myself as well, since there was a lot I learnt during my education about jewellery in the United States, but there is a lot you learn on the job as well.” Crafting in his distinguished French/European-style, Mohamed notes that due to his training in Europe, his style of work in terms of creating an item of jewellery or objects d’art has a more Parisian touch rather than a Khaleeji look.
Taking anywhere between 5 days to 2 weeks, depending on the project at hand, Mohamed explains their work is based on the needs of their clients, when it comes to creating a piece of jewellery or object, but their unique touch is also added. “If a girl walks in and says she wants something with a traditional hint,” Basma explains, “that could mean Arabic calligraphy, if she wants something modern, then I will go with modern geometric shapes”. She adds that those who come to her wanting a piece with a traditional touch, she makes sure her work is just that, it has hints of Arabic design, “touches”, rather than is ostentatiously Arabic, which makes her work more exclusive.
Taqi’s Jewellery today – Mohamed and Basma expanding the business
Working on multiple projects at a time, it is unsurprising that the gifts and luxurious items from Taqi’s Jewellery have gained international attention, and Mohamed explains that they have also been approached by designers abroad for their work. Basma’s expertise also extends onto designing clocks; of which Mohamed makes the exterior using raw materials from around Europe while the machine work is imported from Switzerland and France.
Forever in the quest to enhance their skills and their business, both Basma and Mohamed have decided to pursue their gemmology degrees from GIA, United States. To offer their clients a wider range of products to choose from when getting their jewellery made, Taqi’s Jewellery also plans to increase their already expansive selection of gems. “I think this is where we are going – fully customisable jewellery. We want the customers to get exactly what they want in a timely manner and at a very good price. Everything is custom made for the client: they choose the stone and the design, and they get the article from us.”
Finding their start in the pearling industry, and establishing themselves as one of the Kingdom’s leading jewellery houses, Taqi’s Jewellery may no longer be a part of the pearl industry, but the finesse, elegance, and luxury accumulated over the years has remained, and has only amplified. Having been in the jewellery industry for generations, and having served generations of customers, Taqi’s Jewellery and the Al Mudaifa family name is one that has become a common amongst speak of class and sophistication. With each passing generation bringing a fresh approach to the business and developing it further, Taqi’s Jewellery has witnessed a great evolution, keeping with the times and still appealing to not only their older customers, but the younger clients as well who wish to stay close to their culture and heritage with a modern twist – which, in essence, is what defines Taqi’s Jewellery today.
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