Interested in buying jewellery as investment? Here’s what to look out for
From stocks and cryptocurrencies to alternative streams such as wines and Legos, investments come in different types, and when it comes to jewellery, it’s no different. While gold is one of the most popular in Malaysia, apart from the precious metal, there are diamond and antique jewellery to take note of too. To gain more insight into the world of jewellery investment, below, we speak to the managing director of Habib Jewels, Dato’ Sri Meer Sadik Habib on jewellery investment, and the group’s direction in light of the pandemic:
Is jewellery a good investment?
Generally speaking, yes. In fact, investing in jewellery means that you get to wear your investment.
What are your thoughts on investing in gold, diamond, and gemstone jewellery respectively?
Over the years, gold has been a good investment and is seen as a hedge against inflation. It is a “safe haven” during times of uncertainties due to its value. When I was young, I personally saw how the Vietnamese arrived on our shores in boats. They came without carrying much cash—instead, it is gold that they heavily depended on as a means to trade off using its high value. We are not talking about gold price here—back then, people just understood the value of gold.
When investing in gold jewellery, there are two things you need to understand—gold price and gold value, and they are different. The price is a determined price point (by weight) which we can get by referring to pricing charts or index, while the value is a subjective valuation of how much it is worth, for example, due to its rarity and demand. Note that it is because of the intrinsic value of the precious metal that determines its price point—this is why gold’s value over the years has been preserved, while its price point has been increasing due to inflation. So, when looking to buy gold for investment, ask yourself this: “Am I interested in its price or its value?”
As for diamond and gemstone jewellery, they can be very good investments but it can be tricky. It requires a lot more research and knowledge to really ascertain the real value of diamonds and gemstones. Take Paraiba for example. Paraiba is from the Tourmaline family and was first discovered in the 1980s in Paraiba, Brazil. It is considered an exotic variety of tourmaline of a specific colour. Top-quality Paraiba costs over US$30,000 per carat. Can you imagine a pair of Paraiba earrings actually sold for a record price of US$194,730 per carat!
Do you invest in jewellery? What’s your best investment piece so far?
I do invest in jewellery, but mainly antique pieces. We recently had an Instagram Live session where I showcased some of my personal collection. It’s always a joy for me to share about them with others. We sell many things at Habib, but not everything is for sale—some jewelleries are just priceless.
Investing in antique pieces is about preserving the tradition, heritage, and the history of the pieces. For example, the Kerongsang Toh which was very popular as a fashion statement during the olden days of Peranakans. The kerongsang is mostly worn with baju kebaya, hence this jewellery is considered a part of our national costume. If you are in Penang, drop by the Habib Heritage gallery located above our Habib Showroom on Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling. This is where we showcase a wide variety of antique pieces in an actual Jawi-Peranakan setting. Experience and get to know the jewellery trends from the previous century.
With more and more people turning to online jewellers these days, what’s the key to survival for you guys?
People do buy jewellery online, however, most people would still prefer to visit the retail stores. We need to remember that in this industry, there is one aspect in retail that is very difficult to replicate—the customer experience. One significant part of the customer experience is being able to touch and feel the fine workmanship of the pieces. You will need to consider different elements in the jewellery which cannot be seen through photos. You cannot understand a diamond or a gemstone just by looking at the certificate. You need to see the diamond and the scintillation and that is how it speaks to you.
The key to our survival until today is the trust in our brand. Another one of our core values is sincerity and honesty. This was the value that was carried on by my late father, Datuk Habib Mohamed since we started our business in Penang over 60 years ago. That value is well associated with our brand and had gain the trust and support of our loyal customers.
You’ve been involved in the family business for decades. What keeps you passionate about the jewellery industry?
Jewellery to me is art. It embodies the creativity of those involved, from the designers to the craftsman. There’s a certain beauty towards making jewellery that excites me. Each piece is unique and it carries its own story. I always believe that every jewellery must embody quality and creativity. But today, we go a step further in ensuring that they should also embody timelessness and modernity. It amazes us how a piece of jewellery made 30 years ago would still be matched with the latest fashion of today.
Another thing that keeps me passionate is how jewellery brings joy to our customers. We see this every day when our customers walk into our showrooms. When customers walk into our showrooms, they are there to celebrate a significant milestone in their life—weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and full moon. These are not only significant occasions for them, but they represent some of the happiest moments of their life.
Where would you like to see Habib 10 years down the road?
As a Malaysian myself, I would love for Habib to be one of the iconic names which puts Malaysia on the world map—a name that represents our unique society living with various cultures and background. We want to produce world-class products that showcase and represent us as Malaysians.
There’s a saying that goes “Jewellers are tastemakers of society”, and it feels like it is our obligation to ensure that we live up to this saying. For this reason, we will need to continuously innovate our designs whilst maintaining the embodiment of our traditions and heritage within them.