“It’s nice to work together with your family. At the same time, the company is big enough to enable everyone to do their own thing, “says Debora Leeser, Chief Commercial Officer of Gassan Diamonds, sitting in a richly decorated room with beautiful antique furniture. This is where Debora Leeser’s great grandfather started what is now one of Holland’s oldest and biggest diamond factories. The company employs 400 people and has shops all over the world, from London to Hong Kong. But it is still a family business, as everyone at Gassan will tell you when you come for a visit.
When founder Samuel Gassan died in 1983, his only daughter inherited all the stock and became president of the company, while the two grandsons, Benno en Guy Leeser, took over the management. Benno Leeser’s wife and children all work in the company, so it wasn’t a strange decision for daughter Debora to join the team after she graduated from the Amsterdam Fashion Institute.
Debora Leeser immediately got into the creative side of things – setting up a magazine for the company and designing in-house jewelry lines. “It’s great to see how the designs go from being a drawing on paper to becoming real objects. There is always something new to do,” she told hiEurope. “I never stop having ideas. When I see trends in shop windows or fashion magazines, I think about how it can be applied to the jewelry I design here.”
One of those thoughts turned into her personal jewelry line, which she named Choices by DL. “I got this idea when I was working for Gassan at the Millionaire Summer Fair and I saw that many clients were interested in brightly colored gemstones, but very few bought them.” Debora Leeser decided that this was because clients wanted matching stones with their outfits, but this meant that they had to buy too many different pieces of jewelry.
Back at the company, Debora Leeser sat down with the goldsmiths to design an interchangeable system. The Choices by DL rings are constructed by three loose parts; the base ring, a faceted gemstone and the frame which completes the fitting. By clicking-in another gemstone or by using a frame of another color gold clients are able to create their personal mix.
After the design was made, Gassan’s specialist jeweler purchasing team developed the production process and Debora Leeser was granted a world-wide patent. “Most of the value of a ring is in the gold base, and not so much in the stone. So I decided to take the concept of a ring apart, so clients could have more variety. The concept existed with fashion jewelry, but in the luxury segment, no one had done this yet.”
Debora Leeser started with a line the Classic 1818 ring and matching bracelet, but by now has expanded to over 40 different products, including earrings and cuff links, which are all interchangeable. The jewelry (bases, frames and stones) can be bought separately. The classic rings now also come in different sizes as Debora Leeser has noticed that Asian customers prefer the smaller models.
Choices by DL is one of the top 10 most sold jewelry brands of Gassan, and customers have reason to keep coming back for more. Four times a year, Leeser decides on the newest trends and adds some gemstones, which often come from Brazil. “I always test new colors in my own ring first. When it comes to the stones, I try to offer a modern trend.”
The bases also change according to fashion trends. In the Choices by DL line, a white gold basic ring can be enhanced with a yellow or rose gold frame and then with a colored gemstone. “Up to 1995, people wore yellow gold, but in the past ten years white and rose gold also became fashionable. So we work with a mixture of the three different colors. This way, people can match their jewelry to both their outfits and the other accessories. “
TIPS: Gassan Diamonds
Nieuwe Uilenburgerstraat， 173-175, 1011 LN, Amsterdam， +31 (0)20 622 5333， www.gassan.com